June 24, 2020 Interview – Ellen Wong
Everyone has a different story to tell. For Canadian born Actress Ellen Wong, it all began with direct inspiration from the storytelling aspect of film. Now living her dreams, over the last 15 years she has taken on an abundant amount of roles ranging from Knives Chau in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to Jenny Chey in the popular Netflix series GLOW. Also a part of the SyFy series Dark Matter, Wong has shown a diversity to play different characters in various genres.
Thus is the case in the fun new Horror flick Good Boy, the latest entry in Hulu’s Into the Dark series. Starring alongside Judy Greer, Wong had the time of her life and recently sat down to chat about the experience, her career as an actress, future roles, and plenty more.
Cryptic Rock – You began your professional career in acting 15 years ago. Starring in a list of films and television series over that time, first, tell us what inspired you to pursue a career as an actress?
Ellen Wong – I just always knew that I wanted to be an actress. The first film that really solidified that for me was Titanic (1997). I was just so obsessed with the chemistry that Kate (Winslet) and Leo (DiCaprio) had on that screen. I was so amazed and totally lured into their story. I wanted to do that: tell stories that I really care about, help others to feel seen through my storytelling. It’s so powerful, and intimate, and can be life-changing.
Cryptic Rock – Movies certainly do have an effect on us and inspire our lives in certain ways. Following your passion, you would go on to star in both film and television. How would you compare working in the two different mediums?
Ellen Wong – In TV, my characters’ journeys are usually more unknown. I don’t usually know what’s going to happen next until maybe a week before or a few days before shooting. In film, you have the whole story laid out already, and there’s time to figure out the arc of a character. I like TV for the unknown, but I also love film for the known. I guess a balance of both is good, and there’s so much amazing TV and film these days.
Cryptic Rock – It is great to have the ability to do both. Speaking of TV, you recently starred in the movie entitled Good Boy from the Hulu series Into the Dark. Taking on the part of the upbeat Annie, how did this role come about for you?
Ellen Wong – I heard about it because I’m friends with Tyler McIntyre, the director. I thought it could be fun to work with Tyler, so I auditioned for Annie and it worked out!
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. In Good Boy you play an old friend of Maggie, portrayed by Judy Greer. What was it like working alongside Judy, as well as the rest of the cast?
Ellen Wong – Most of my scenes were with Judy, and she was super fun to work with. Everyone told me leading up to the shoot that she’s really lovely, and it’s true! She makes the set environment feel very warm and welcoming. At one point we were laughing at how our chats between takes that were starting to sound like Annie and Maggie’s.
My first day was the café scene that McKinley Freeman was in, as well; he’s so sweet and thoughtful. I remember we all just chatted a bunch and shared crazy YouTube videos when we were shooting. So it was lots of fun all around.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a nice experience. The story of Good Boy is quite interesting. You have this little dog named Reuben, that could not be more than 10 pounds soaking wet, that looks harmless but is not. What were your thoughts on Reuben and what he really is?
Ellen Wong – In my mind he’s very much an alien not from this world, and it is possibly the beginning of a plan to wipe out humanity through the disguise of cuteness via a tiny fluffy puppy. I think I have this alien idea because I think there was an early draft of the script that might’ve pointed to that.
Cryptic Rock – That is interesting insight! What is also compelling about Good Boy is Judy’s character appears to be frustrated with the modern dating scene, and a bunch of guys who have no interest in settling down or who are just playing games. Then your character comes along: someone much younger than her who is married and preparing to have a child. However, your character is not ready for a child yet either. All this said, why do you think many people are fearful or disinterested in starting a family nowadays?
Ellen Wong – I think any time we start something new it can be scary. But starting a family in particular means you have all these extra responsibilities – for the rest of your life! And there’s just so much unknown as to how that journey may play out for each individual.
Cryptic Rock – That is very true. Beyond working on the Into the Dark series, you have done Horror-related films in the past. Do you enjoy working in the genre?
Ellen Wong – Yeah, it can be enjoyable only when you’re working with fun people. Sometimes it’s like having a safe place to let go, transcend reality, scream my brains out, and then go home and feel like phew, I got it all out whatever that “it” is. Sometimes we just need to scream a little.
Cryptic Rock – It is funny you say that because many Horror fans view the genre as a therapeutic release, as well. Obviously a lot is going on in the world today and a lot of things are on hold due to COVID-19. That in mind, what are some other projects you have coming up?
Ellen Wong – I just shot a film called Best Sellers, starring Aubrey Plaza and Michael Caine. That was so much fun to work on; we all had a blast shooting in Montreal just before the holidays. I’m very excited for the world to see it.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look out for. Many people are going through a rough time right now, whether it be because of the pandemic or the ongoing struggle against racism and injustice. What words of encouragement and support would you give to others at this time?
Ellen Wong – I think there’s still so much work to do. It’s time to listen and learn about systemic racism and the criminalization and violence against Black people. I encourage people to talk to their friends and families about this.
Just keep the learning and conversations going, while also taking care of yourself. But keep doing the work! I’m still figuring out how to find that balance that gives me space to absorb while continuing to hold myself accountable. So I’d say find your balance. Hold yourself accountable. Take deep breaths. Then keep going – and wear a mask!
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Feature photo credit Kayla Rocca