An actor’s first-ever role is something they can’t easily forget and for Jayden Zhang, that rings true. He gets to play the young version of Marvel’s first Asian superhero on screen for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. But more than that, he also gets to work with Hong Kong acting legend Tony Leung. Before we see Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, we’re first introduced to Jayden as the young Shang-Chi, helping shape the characteri that we see in the bulk of the film.
He might be a newcomer to the acting scene, but the young actor already proved that he can lift his own, sharing emotional heavy scenes with other veteran cast members while portraying the young Shang-Chi that the audiences need to see. “I also wanted people to think of him as a curious little kid who just wants to be taken seriously,” he says.
In an exclusive interview with Tatler Hong Kong, Jayden Zhang chats with us about bringing young Shang-Chi to life, sharing scenes with Tony Leung and other cast members, representation for young people like him and which superhero is his favourite.
(Warning: There may be spoilers ahead!)
You’ve only started acting seriously over the past year and a half. What made you decide to do acting?
When I was younger, my greatest dream was to be like all the characters that I saw on TV, and my parents told me that they were just actors playing parts. Back then, I didn’t even know what actors were, I just thought that they were all very cool and that they could trick my little three-year-old brain into thinking that they actually had superpowers!
Can you tell us about the acting showcase you put in that got you noticed? How did life change for you after that?
The showcase was arranged by the acting school I was attending at the time, and I was performing a scene from the film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when my agent spotted me and signed me. Afterwards, she started sending me auditions, and my life got much busier with memorizing lines and recording self-tapes.
Coming into your first role, what was the audition process like? What made you decide to audition for the film?
My agent sent me a self-tape request so I taped it, sent it over, and kind of forgot about it afterwards. At the time, I didn’t even know that I was auditioning for a Marvel movie. When I received the news that I had gotten a role in an upcoming Marvel film featuring the first-ever Asian superhero, I was so surprised, I ran five circles around my house!