Kelly Hu signs photos for fans at MEFCC. Victor Besa for The National
Kelly Hu signs photos for fans at MEFCC. Victor Besa for The National

MEFCC: The Scorpion King and Arrow’s Kelly Hu on being mistaken for Lucy Liu



What's the worst thing about being Kelly Hu? Being mistaken for Lucy Liu and asked to sign autograph. Hu, the star of The Scorpion King and X-2, and a villain on the DC Comics superhero TV show Arrow, star says she is asked for the Kill Bill star's signature "more often" than her own.

"That happens a lot," says the American actress. "You can tell when a person looks at you and they know you're someone, but they don't know who you are exactly. So when they stop me for an autograph I'll ask, 'Who am I?' – and more often than not I'll get 'you're the girl from Charlie's Angels, right?' I just write 'Lucy Liu', and they go away thinking they met Lucy Liu."

Isn’t it against the law to impersonate someone else?

“Is it? I don’t think I can get sued for that,” she said. “I think Lucy’s got a pretty good sense of humour – I’ve met her and she’s a cool chick.

“As Asian girls we get mixed up all the time – I’ve been called Ming-Na [Wen], Tia [Carrere], Maggie [Q] – we all look alike. I mean, I know we don’t really, but ... you can’t take it personally, it’s never personal.”

It’s a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude from a Hollywood star, who was in Dubai to meet fans at the Middle East Film & Comic Con.

“It’s been great,” she smiles. “What surprised me most was just how big this convention is, in only its fourth year, how many people have come in from outside the country for this event, from all over the world.”

And what about the city?

“There’s a lot of brand new buildings in Dubai, and it seems they’re all competing with each other to be the fanciest.”

The “pretty fancy” building Hu was staying at is the Fairmont Dubai – although the room she saw most was the gym, with a rigorous workout regime in place to prepare for her role in a forthcoming comedy-thriller.

Reportedly the first US-Russian co-production to be shot in Moscow, the as-yet-unnamed project will reunite Hu, who plays a secret agent, with Cradle 2 the Grave director Andrzej Bartkowiak – to play a scantily clad secret agent.

“I found out that I have to wear a little crop-top and miniskirt for three-quarters of the film, so there’s no better incentive to lose weight than public humiliation,” she laughs. “It’s humiliating to be on screen in front of millions of people and have a little bit of fat hanging out the sides. It’s work, let me tell you – and the older you get, the harder you have to work at it.”

Now 47-years-old – but looking younger – Hu found fame in her teens as a model. An early acting break came in 1997 with an 18-month stint on the US police drama Nash Bridges, before hitting the big screen in 2002 alongside The Rock in The Scorpion King.

Today Hu remains a cult favourite from TV series including The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, on which she stars as lethal mercenary China White.

“I always seem to get cast as an assassin or a gun-wielding cop – I’m always killing people or getting killed,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve been killed so many times on film, one day I’m going to get all my death scenes together into a video and have it played at my funeral.”

One "death scene" stands out as her favourite – Lady Deathstrike in 2003's X-Men sequel X-2. "Getting shot up, leaking out of eyes, falling to the bottom of the tank – that's pretty epic".

But despite the drama of her demise, Hu doesn’t rule out a return to the franchise.

“I always said my character has regenerative powers, so she could always come back – in this kind of fantasy world, anything could happen. I’m not keeping any secrets.”

As fans flock around Hu in Dubai, it’s easy to imagine such recognition can be a drag – even when she is correctly identified.

“If you get tired [of the fans] you shouldn’t be doing this – don’t come to conventions,” she says, “and don’t be an actor.

“Maybe it’s because I haven’t had such a huge career that I’m not bothered by it. I have such a great balance, a perfect position that I have enough recognition, that I have a fanbase and can go to these events, but I’m not so famous that I can’t live a normal life. If there is paparazzi taking pictures of me, it’s a really slow day.”

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

Biography

Favourite Meal: Chicken Caesar salad

Hobbies: Travelling, going to the gym

Inspiration: Father, who was a captain in the UAE army

Favourite read: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter

Favourite film: The Founder, about the establishment of McDonald's

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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The Africa Institute 101

Housed on the same site as the original Africa Hall, which first hosted an Arab-African Symposium in 1976, the newly renovated building will be home to a think tank and postgraduate studies hub (it will offer master’s and PhD programmes). The centre will focus on both the historical and contemporary links between Africa and the Gulf, and will serve as a meeting place for conferences, symposia, lectures, film screenings, plays, musical performances and more. In fact, today it is hosting a symposium – 5-plus-1: Rethinking Abstraction that will look at the six decades of Frank Bowling’s career, as well as those of his contemporaries that invested social, cultural and personal meaning into abstraction. 

Mica

Director: Ismael Ferroukhi

Stars: Zakaria Inan, Sabrina Ouazani

3 stars

The five pillars of Islam

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2. Prayer

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5. Zakat 

Paris Agreement

Article 14

1. [The Cop] shall periodically take stock of the implementation of this Agreement to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of this Agreement and its long-term goals (referred to as the "global stocktake")

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UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

STAR WARS JEDI: SURVIVOR

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
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Consoles: PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X and S
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