The Scorpion King: Rock-ing.

22 April 2002 | 12:00 am | Chris Ryder
Originally Appeared In

Sting When You’re Winning.

More Melodyssey More Melodyssey

The Scorpion King opens in cinemas on Thursday.

Kelly Hu was just four years old when she told her mother that she was going to Los Angeles to become a superstar. Thirty years later and the Hawaiian-born actress, who was the first Asian American to be crowned Miss Teen USA, may finally have superstardom in her sights. The former model, who also has a black belt in judo, is a cast regular on such television shows as Sunset Beach, Martial Law, and Nash Bridges. Currently Kelly is generating masses of advance buzz for her performance opposite The Rock in the forthcoming action adventure, The Scorpion King.

“I play a sorceress, Cassandra, who is held captive by an evil warlord,” Kelly explained recently. “I wear a lot of gold body paint and long green long nails and not much else. I'm pretty much half naked through most of the movie to be honest. Anyway, The Rock kidnaps me and we develop this relationship. Everywhere I go, people keep coming up to me, and they know I'm in this film with The Rock. He's like the most famous person in the world right now.”

In The Scorpion King pro wrestler The Rock revisits the role he played in the 2001 production The Mummy Returns, itself a sequel to Brendan Fraser’s star vehicle The Mummy. But the Scorpion King isn’t a sequel. Much like the about to be released Star Wars flicks, The Scorpion King goes back and fills in the surrounding storylines in the pseudo-imagined world of The Mummy.

“I don't quite know what you call this movie,” she muses. “A spin-off? The Rock plays a character in The Mummy Returns called Scorpion King, and this movie tells the story of how he became the Scorpion King in the first place. What it has in common with The Mummy Returns, apart from The Rock, is a great mix of action, comedy and sheer spectacle.”

The Scorpion King also represents Kelly’s big break into the Hollywood mainstream. But the role was not offered to her on a platter, rather she found herself in a casting call.

“I wish it were that easy. I had to audition with probably thousands of other girls. I did the first audition with the casting director. Then I went in to meet with the director, then The Rock, then twice for the director again, and then a screen test. I mean, I really worked hard for this role”

“It was a really huge deal for me, because I've never had such a large role in such a big film before. I've had moments where I felt I was never going to work again. Before getting Scorpion King, there was almost a whole year that I went without work and I was seriously having doubts that this was the career for me to be in. I couldn't figure out what else I would do though, because I wasn't trained to do anything else. I only ever wanted to perform or be on stage in some way, whether it was acrobatics, tap and jazz, whatever. I used to tell people when I was really small that I wanted to be a ballerina. I can't even type.”

“Anyway, I got a phone call and I started screaming and jumping around the room. The only person at my house was the cable guy and I was just started hugging him. I think I'm going to get free cable for a year.”

Although set in the sands of Egypt, production for The Scorpion King was done at home in the USA.

“We shot most of the film in the desert around Los Angeles and in Arizona and it was physically demanding. There were record-breaking temperatures and walking on the sand, the sand would burn your feet. I also had to deal with snakes, which I wasn't too keen on. There's a scene where I reach into an urn and I'm holding a cobra, but the cobra is all done by computers, thank goodness, but we did have real snakes on the set, including cobras. Apparently the cobras couldn't de-venomed, or whatever the technical expression is, because that would be cruel, so we had to be really careful around them. It was a little bit nerve-racking. I saw them strike out at people.

Nothing to deter The Rock, however.

“I don't think he'd take any chances. He's a very level-headed guy, you know. Not like the WWF character he plays. I only discovered who his character was on WWF after we started the film and someone gave me a tape.  He had struck me as this very well mannered, soft-spoken guy. He's very much a gentleman. So the WWF stuff was a shock. I suppose it just goes to show he really is an actor.”