At the recent press conference for the new Paramount Pictures DOWNSIZING actress Hong Chau had the chance to speak about her character Ngoc Lan Tran, a Vietnamese refugee that becomes very important to the story and its protagonist, Paul Safranek, played by Matt Damon.
Find below some of the most interesting soundbites that Chau shared.


On making the character her own:

“Of course my parents and the Vietnamese and refugee community, that I grew up with in New Orleans, are certainly and inspiration. But, at the end of the day, the character is mine. She is mine. I feel that people don’t put certain limitations on other actors: when British or Australian actors perform American characters, we talk about how great it is that they were able to do this other accent that it’s not their own. Americans have different relationships with different accents: the way we view a Spanish speaker from Spain is different from how we view a Mexican person, because Americans have different relationships with these people. With the Vietnamese accent, we usually tend to have occupations where we are servicing people, in some manner, and that rises the race and class issue, inequality and discrimination.”

On her character having a strong accent:

“When I look at my parents I don’t see a stereotype […] I am not quite sure why some people is flabbergasted to hear someone with an accent. We are surrounded by people that speaks with accents. We are a nation of immigrants. In Los Angeles, and other major city, we have people doing labor that other people don’t want to do. So the movie shows the machinery, the apparatus, the value system that allows for that inequality, and I don’t think that showing it is problematic.”

On the comedic side of her role:

“A lot of itwas in the script. I couldn’t believe that they came up with this character, because we are all struggling to find the way to tell these very important stories about people. When people think about the story of an immigrant or a refugee, they immediately think that it’s going to be very sad and depressing. When dealing with difficult topics, we need to try to humanize them, and laughing is part of being human. Immigrants and people of color have a sense of humor and laugh. When I read the script I didn’t see the character being written stereotypically and, hopefully, if I did my job right, she shouldn’t come across as a stereotype. I think it’s OK to laugh if someone you love says or does something peculiar. My parents made laugh, and cry, more than anyone. I love my character, and I feel that the writers love her. Hopefully, the audience will love her too, and if they are laughing is out of deep affection, and none of the other things that people are saying.”

The film, written and directed by Alexander Payne (Nebraska, The Descendants, Sideways), also stars Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, and Udo Kier.

DOWNSIZING will be released in theaters on December 22.

“Downsizing” follows a kindly occupational therapist who undergoes a new procedure to be shrunken to four inches tall so that he and his wife can help save the planet and afford a nice lifestyle at the same time.