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Interview with "Annapolis" Star Roger Fan

Roger Fan Reunites with Director Justin Lin for "Annapolis"


Interview with

Jordana Brewster, James Franco and Roger Fan in "Annapolis."

© Touchstone Pictures
The star and director of the critically acclaimed independent film "Better Luck Tomorrow" reunite for the big budget drama, "Annapolis," the story of an outsider (played by James Franco) who wins a coveted spot at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Roger Fan and director Justin Lin both broke through with "Better Luck Tomorrow" and the success of that smaller budgeted film allowed Lin the opportunity to helm a $35 million studio project for Touchstone Pictures. It also afforded Lin the opportunity to help cast "Annapolis." At his suggestion, one of the film's central roles went to "Better Luck Tomorrow" star Roger Fan.

Roger Fan on Researching His Role: “Annapolis” wasn’t shot at the actual Naval Academy however Fan says some of the cast did go and visit the school. “We were there for about a month beforehand to do boot camp training. We actually took a day or two where we actually drove down to Annapolis to do a reconnaissance mission. So what we did was it was like me, Jordana Brewster, McCaleb Burnett and a couple of other folks and we just went down there and we walked around the campus. They didn’t even know that we were there. We were just hanging out, talking to like the Naval midshipmen and all the students. We were hanging out with them and having a couple of Cokes with them and trying to pick their brains to see what life was like down there.”

Roger Fan on the Physical Preparation and Finding the Heart of His Character: Interestingly enough, it wasn’t what the students told Fan or the research he did on the academic aspects of Annapolis that most influenced Fan’s character Loo. Fan said it was the physical preparation that really shaped his take on the character.

“It was funny. The character I played was actually born more out of the physical exercise of it all - four months of boxing training and one month of Naval boot camp. It was that hardship that the center of my character came out of. I spent a couple of nights – well, actually many nights – reading all the Naval Academy stuff and it was all academic and stuff like that. But I didn’t really get it until I was marching with a rifle over my head for six hours a day in the rain that I finally got it. ‘Okay, this is about discipline. This is about wanting something bigger than what you are.’ Because physically you’re not meant to survive it, really.”

Roger Fan Put His Body Through Hell to Play a Boxer: “I think the tough part was probably the boxing because my character is an exceptional boxer. We are all supposed to be 18-year-olds in this Naval world so struggling through the physical rigors of the Academy is natural. However it looks is fine. But in a boxing ring, you really have to know what you’re doing. It was a four month process of going from never having boxed to really making it sort of first nature within my muscle memory. That was really, really, really tough because I’d never done a really tough, full-contact sport.”

The 6’2” actor may not have participated in contact sports while he was growing up, but he’s always been athletic. “I swam my entire life or I ran. I swam for 15 years so, in fact, that’s actually at the opposite end of the spectrum [from boxing]. I have a lot of gaps between all my joints because of the elongation necessary to swim, which is horrible for boxing. Most boxers, their joints are filled up with a lot of hard cartilage to take the impact. So for the first month and a half I literally had to go home, back to my hotel room, and just stick my entire body into a bathtub of ice. Everything was hurting. It was not muscle pain, it was just pure bone pain.”

Although Fan was mentally prepared for the challenge, he didn’t fully realize the impact learning to box would have on his body. “You know, when Justin came up and said, ‘Your boxer is going to be good,’ I embrace challenges like that. I’d embrace if it required me to be a race car driver or race a motorcycle. I really look forward to that aspect of acting, but I mean it was of a pain that I never experienced before. Was I ready for it? You know, I don’t think anyone can be ready for boxing training because in many ways it’s a very unnatural act in terms of a sport. I mean it’s your job. Your whole job is to be able to walk in there and take out the enemy – or whatever you want to call him.

It’s something that I’ll take with me. Now I can actually go into a boxing ring and do the sport. I mean, I’m not exceptional. If I walked in with Mike Tyson I’d last for about 30 seconds (laughing). But it’s actually part of my DNA now. I can hit a speed bag. I can jump rope like no one’s business. It was really cool.”

Page 2: Roger Fan on Fight Scenes and the Film's Theme

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