We had the opportunity to interview Taiwanese actress Ellen Wu, one of the main leads from HBO Asia Original science fiction TV series Dream Raider, which recently debuted its first episode last Sunday on 16 August 2020.
She spoke about everything from her role as the strong and independent Dr. Anya Cheng, what distinguishes from the show from other science fiction shows or movies like Inception, and what the future holds for Dream Raider.
Check out our full non-spoiler review of Dream Raider here. A new episode premieres on a weekly basis every Sunday at 9pm GMT+8 exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Channel 411 HD).
Here’s what she had to say to the questions we asked:
Q: What were your inspirations when undertaking the role of Dr. Anya Cheng?
Ellen Wu: I felt as if I had won the lottery! I had read the script and really loved it because the theme, involving consciousness and dreams, have fascinated me for a long time.
I could also see from the script that this is a strong and independent woman. Though she seems distant and cold on the outside, it is, in fact, her defence mechanism to protect her warm and loving nature.
Furthermore, I personally relate to Anya’s father-daughter conflict with her dad.
Playing this role and going through her problems seemed like a cathartic journey for me and helped me look at my own family story in a new light.
Because of all this, I was more than excited and thankful when I learned that I had gotten the role.
Q: What separates Dr. Anya Cheng from similar characters in other science fiction movies?
Ellen Wu: I think Dr. Anya’s back story and her personal struggles are what sets her apart from other similar characters. She is not good at getting along with people that she is not familiar with.
However, when she speaks about science, you can see that’s where her passion an expertise lie. It’s important to understand that the main reason she became a scientist was to be closer to her father, who is also a scientist.
She follows in her father’s footsteps in order to better communicate and relate to him.
There is a specific reason why this character is studying to find the source of consciousness, which the audience will find out when they watch the conclusion to Dream Raider, when Dr. Anya’s struggles will be revealed.
Q: What do you think distinguishes Dream Raider from other science fiction shows or movies like Inception?
Ellen Wu: First and foremost, Dream Raider is HBO Asia’s very first sci-fi show.
Second, it’s not a simple showcase of sci-fi special effects, but there are also layers of human emotional entanglements, which make this show more well-rounded and spectacular.
Q: Now that you’ve delved into the science fiction genre with Dream Raider, would you be interested in future roles in the same genre? If so, why?
Ellen Wu: I would love the opportunity to play other roles in sci-fi as the personality and back story of the characters will be very different.
This would help me to challenge myself and try to interpret roles and characters that are different from Anya’s.
Moreover, I would like to try and explore more diverse ways of acting in front of a green screen.
Q: How would you like to see the story in Dream Raider (and your character) evolve and expand in the future?
Ellen Wu: I would like to see the story evolve in a way that allows this character to mend her relationship with her long-lost father, so they could continue to have a good life together.
It would also be wonderful if the plot around her love life could be expanded.
As for the bigger story of the show, I would like to see all the characters face their hardest conflicts and strive to solve them.