We recently got the chance to talk with Glee‘s Harry Shum Jr. while he was busy promoting his new movie. You probably know him as Mike Chang in New Directions, but he is also reprising his role, Cable from Step Up 2: The Streets, in the latest installment of the Step Up series, Step Up 3D. We chatted over the phone with him about everything from Step Up 3D to The LXD and even asked him about working with the new Glee cast additions, Chord Overstreet and Charice. We had a ton of fun with the interview and hope that you enjoy it. Make sure to check out Step Up 3D in theaters everywhere on August 6th.
Ok, first question. Step Up 3D is a dance film shot entirely in 3D, so how was filming a 3D movie different from filming a normal 2D film or TV show?
You know, it’s a lot different as far as how they film it. They have to use 2 lens special cameras and they try and not change our movements too much. They want us to be as organic as possible, but at certain moments, if you spin too fast, the camera might not read it in a sense of the 3D technology, but definitely pulling us in and out through depth and making the audience feel like they’re there. What’s cool is after you get done filming a dance sequence, you can go around to the monitors and put on some glasses, and they have this big HD monitor where you can see the playback in 3D, so that was the coolest part of it.
Any ‘let’s reach right into the camera’ moves?
No, they try to stay away from that. I mean, there is one or two of those, just for the fun of paying homage to the Captian EO’s of the Michael Jackson old 3D ride, you know, but most of the time it just throws you into the action and makes you feel like you’re there. Like, they have a camera shot where they’re panning behind a guy’s head and it looks like you’re one of the audience members trying to look past the guy and see the action happen. So it’s really cool. It’s like people dancing on your lap.
What was it like getting to film in New York City?
Oh, it was so cool. I mean, at that moment, I was filming Glee at the same time and I literally was just going from the set of Glee all the way jumping onto the set of Step Up 3D as well as working on LXD at the same time. It was definitely a heavy multitasking, but there’s something about the energy of New York that gives you this energy to want to dance, especially because it has so much history. That’s where hip hop originated from, so I love it there, man. You know, I think it was the right idea to bring Step Up 3D to New York.
Yeah, another question I had was what was is like having to balance working on LXD, Step Up, and Glee all at the same time?
I got confused a couple of moments. When we’d start doing certain rehearsals, and ‘uh, where am I at right now? Oh yeah, I’m at LXD’ — a little bit of scheduling and just having the love of being a part of these projects. You know I just feel so lucky and blessed to be part of all these projects and especially Glee for what it represents and Step Up 3D for being so innovative, and LXD just being able to be in all aspects of the creative process. It’s really been a dream to be a part of all these projects at the same time, so I think that’s what keeps me going and to be able to want to make all across the board, everything I do for all the projects, giving it my all. So that’s the passion that definitely keeps me going.
When I was taking questions from people for what they wanted to hear, something I got a lot was what inspired you to get into dancing?
For me, I didn’t start dancing until high school. Something to let everyone know, it’s never too late to try something. You should always just test out the waters and see if you’re able to do it or if you love to do it. The thing that drew me towards dancing was I saw a dance team perform, and I just saw joy in there dancing. They looked so happy. I just wanted to see why they were so happy, you know? I wanted to see for myself. It’s just like if you see someone eat some really good food, and they’re like ‘mmmm – it’s so good’ and you’re like, ‘damn, I want to try that,’ you know? I did, and I caught the bug and from there it became a passion. I started learning more and more about it and I just wanted to learn more and how I could manipulate my body to move in different ways and from there it just got trickling on and on and snowball effect.
That’s awesome because the passion behind the dancing is such a huge part of the Step Up series. Could you tell us a little more about you character? I know you’re reprising him from Step Up 2.
Yeah, in Step Up 2, I play Cable. He’s in the MSA crew. He’s the tech guru of the school and he you always look to him to fix all your gadget stuff and he’s part of the yearbook at school, but outside of that we found out that he has an ability to freestyle and unique dance style that would have fit well with the MSA crew. In Step Up 3D, you have Moose and he’s reprising his role from the second one. He’s a great character in it, and in the movie, he brings us back to kind of help his crew out a little bit for the final battle. So we come back and take initiative and do what we can to make sure they win.
Now we are a Glee fansite, so we have a couple Glee questions. I know you just started working on Season 2, so have you gotten to meet any of the new people yet?
We worked with the new guy, Chord. He plays Sam Elliot and he’s great. He’s a really cool guy and we’ve only worked on one scene, but overall, he’s really cool and I’m looking forward to work with him. I met Charice, but we haven’t done any scenes with her yet. We’ve only been shooting for like, 3 or 4 days. But yeah, I’m looking forward to this season, man, and I keep hearing all these great guest stars that aren’t confirmed yet, so I don’t know if it’s true or not, so we’ll wait to see when they get on that stage.
So Ryan Murphy said that at the beginning of Season 2, Tina has left Artie and she’s now with Mike. What’s going on with that?
Oh, man. Yeah, Mike Chang kind of steps right in and takes Artie’s girl [laughs], but he doesn’t really take her, but there is a little love triangle going on and I’m just happy that Mike Chang is getting some lovin’.
Yeah, do you get to talk more? We haven’t really heard too much from Mike.
Yeah, I think they’re hinting at that. They’re hinting that Mike Chang is going to get more screen time, and not just dancing. That’s what I’m looking forward to. You know, I love dancing on the show, but I also love the fact that [we’re] going to get to know him a little better and not just knowing him as the dancer in the glee club.
Step Up 3D is directed by Jon Chu, who also created LXD and most of us Glee people, we know LXD because it opened for Glee Live! concert tour, and I saw it live in New York and it was amazing. Was it really fun getting to work with some of your LXD cast mates and crew on Step Up 3D?
Oh yeah. I think it’s a family and I’m so proud of the accomplishments that everyone has done together. You go from Step Up 2 and then it trickled into LXD and then it came into everyone doing Step Up 3D and then when Glee tour happened, we were able to bring the LXD family, and now everyone is a big circle and it’s so awesome. It’s great because it shows what the arts can do. If you create something, hopefully it’s innovative and fresh, and people respond to it well, then look at the unity that can happen out of it. I’m just so happy that people are really appreciating the arts now. Not that they haven’t before, but I think that it’s definitely magnified.
Now even though they’re both dance series, the Step Up series and LXD, just the look and feel of them is so completely different. So to you, what are some of the differences between working on something like Step Up which is so huge and then LXD which seems to be a little smaller and more intimate?
Yeah, Step Up 3D is a franchise. It’s a Disney movie. You definitely have different budgets going on there. Step Up 3D you have a little bigger budget [laughs], actually a lot bigger budget. You know, the basic things of film making– you have the massive, expensive cameras, and you have a large crew, and you have your trailer, and you have these different things that come along with making a movie, which is awesome. It’s like when you were a kid and you go, ‘Ah, I want to be part of that!’ Then you go to LXD which, like you said, it’s more intimate, but what’s great is you don’t have anyone telling you what to do creatively. We have our own circle, like Jon Chu and Chris Scott, the other choreographer, and we sit there and if we all agree on what we want to do, then we do it. That’s what’s cool about it. We don’t have to go through a whole bunch of different avenues to get to that place. Definitely what’s great about this is that we get to showcase these amazing dancers and we create characters out of them, and film it in a way that it’s stylized in a sense that we get to create different scenes like film noir, to a black and white picture like a silent dance movie, and comedy that involves physical comedy with dance. So, it’s really cool when we get to create these little stories, but LXD is definitely a passion project that hopefully will turn into something that people really love in the future.
Yeah, we love how unique every episode of LXD is and one of the upcoming episodes is your character’s episode. Could you tell us a little bit about your character?
Yeah, I’m really excited about this. I’ve loved watching everyone in their own episodes, and mine I hold dearly because, I never really told too many people this, but physical comedy was something that I just loved watching when I was a kid– from Charlie Chaplin to Steve Martin, even Jackie Chan, and what they do is basically kind of a dance, but a comedic dance. That’s kind of where I started because I wasn’t a dancer before. In the episode I’m in, I play this character, Elliot, who inherits this house and finds these shoes that are hidden inside the house and ends up putting them on and finds out that they take over him and give him this extraordinary ability through dance. What’s nice about it is, I got to put a lot of physical comedy into it and a lot of different styles of dance that I’ve kind of collected throughout my dance career and put it into this episode, so I’m really proud of it and I can’t wait for the world to see it.
Yeah, we got to see a little bit of a taste of you episode at the Glee concert and I just want to say that it was hilarious getting to see the shoes take over a person, so you did a great job on that.
Ok, this is one of our last questions. We did this with most of the cast at The Gleek Tour in the summer of ’09. The question we asked everyone was: What is a random quirk that you have about yourself that most people don’t really know?
A quirk about myself… hmm…
I know that Cory told us his love of breakfast and, let’s see… oh, Lea talked about her crazy coffee obsession.
I can get sucked into gadgetry. You know how girls love shoes and they go goo goo ga ga? I will go gaga over gadgets. I’ll see something that can feed you or something like that [laughs] and I’ll go nuts over it and I’ll try and tell everyone, and everyone will give me this crazy look like, ‘what is wrong with you?’ I just love little inventions and gadget stuff. Anything cool just really excites me.
Yeah, my friends always joke about how they have retail therapy with clothes shopping and I say that I just go to Best Buy and just spend hours there.
Huge thanks to Harry for taking the time to talk to us! We hope you guys enjoyed the interview and will check him out in Step Up 3D.