[fade]British-born American actor, model and martial artist Lewis Tan has come a long way since he first studied acting under John Kirby. Having studied martial arts for over 15 years, his desire to perform his own stunts, using various styles such as Ju-jitsu and Japanese Katana swordplay, was the one that really caught the world’s attention. He started off in small supporting roles in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Word’s End, Hangover 3 and Olympus Has Fallen. From there, Lewis then received opportunities to work on big television shows such as The Protector, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii 5-0, 24, and Rush Hour.
His first big break came in 2016; Lewis was cast as Zhou Cheng, a recurring character in the first season of the Netflix television series Iron Fist. A year later, it was announced that Tan will be appearing in the AMC martial arts drama Into the Badlands as Gaius Chau. Starring Daniel Wu, the television series is currently in its third season.
His acting career continues to blossom in 2018. Starred as Shatterstar in Deadpool 2, Lewis will also be part of the lead character in Netflix’s latest series, Wu Assassins. Apart from that, Lewis is also working with Tucker Tooley writing and developing his own series based on his father’s (Philip Tan, a martial artist, actor and stunt coordinator from Singapore) childhood.
How was it like growing up with a martial artist for a father?
It was a centerpiece to my upbringing and identity. I would spend hours stretching in front of the TV watching films with my father or learning martial arts from him. Him being a national champion and acclaimed action choreographer, it was a lot to live up to; but I traveled the world with him and my mum and fell in love with cinema at a young age.[/fade]
Describe your earliest memory of superheroes (fiction or non-fiction).
I was a kid on the set of Tim Burton’s Batman, watching Michael Keaton in the suit and it scared the shit out of me. Until one of the producers gave me some Batman toys, that's when I have been hooked ever since.
You are known for doing your own stunts in films. What was the craziest stunt you’ve ever done?
The stunt industry is incredible, we would not have any of the game changing films we all love if it wasn’t for the incredible athlete performers that risk their lives to bring these stories to the big screen. I respect it highly and try to do everything in my ability to give the audience the most out of my performances, I have done a lot of crazy stunts, once on Pirates of the Caribbean 3, we did a scene where we were escaping off a boat by climbing upside down on a big thick rope that was suspended about 30 feet in the air and stretched to reach another boat 50 feet away. Davey Jones comes and cuts the rope, we fall backwards into the water, in the Bahamas, at night, in shark infested water. My leather boots were full of water and slipping off, it was one of my first experiences on a film of that magnitude and I will never forget it.
Tell us about the filming in Ireland for AMC’s Into the Badlands with Daniel Wu. Any scenes you are particularly excited with?
I think the work we did on Season 3 is some of the best action ever achieved on television. Working with Daniel, Master Dee Dee, Andy Chang, Stephen Fung and the action team was an honor. Towards the end of the season there is a chaotic finale battle scene, where everyone fights, and everything is completely destroyed. I think it is a stand out scene for the show and one of the craziest, creative and complex scenes I have ever been a part of.
You’re also writing and developing your own series based on your father’s childhood. How is the progress going? Why did you choose Tucker Tooley to collaborate with?
Tucker Tooley is an incredible producer and I am a huge fan of The Fighter. His taste in cinema, background in high concept film making and action genre makes him perfect for this project. I had to take a small break from development to complete Into the Badlands and Deadpool 2, now we are back at it and things are moving very fast. We are looking forward to bringing a dynamic and diverse story to life. There have been very few original Asian American scripts with well written and fully developed characters, we are very excited to share ours with the world.
What’s been your biggest challenge in the entertainment industry so far?
This industry demands a lot of sacrifices. Physically, mentally, in personal relationships and on the ego/psyche. Dealing with failure and loss, learning when to stand up for what you believe even if it means turning down jobs as well as balancing a career that puts food on the table without losing love or passion is an essential element. It is easy and justifiable to become tainted, but that energy does not create beautiful work. I focus on legacy and I follow my heart, that keeps me happy and satisfied with my work.
Walk us through your fitness regime when you’re preparing for a project.
Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. That is the key. I stay training at all times regardless. It is something that helps me balance energy and emotion. Martial art is an expression; feeling not thinking, same as acting. You don’t act with words, it comes from a place deep inside that is interconnected to the universe. We all know love, pain, truth and fear. If you are in tune with your body, your instrument as an actor becomes stronger. If you start preparing once you begin a project, it is too late.
What is something we might be surprised to learn about you?
Jazz, Blues and Classical piano is my favorite type of music and I use music to prepare for all my roles.
When the time comes, what do you want to be remembered for?
How I loved and treated people, my films and work, how passionately I lived life.
How would you associate #WatchBeyond with your view in life?
The great beyond. The stars and universe, just by looking up it is a constant reminder that we are made of the same material as the stars, we have endless potential and are ever evolving just like space. It is frightening and beautiful at the same time.