Lucy Liu Recalls Growing Up a Comic Book Fan

For Lucy Liu, the magic word “Shazam!” had more than a familiar ring to it: it brought back fond memories of reading superhero comics as a kid.

“That’s what was available: comics. That’s it,” laughs Liu, 54, recalling growing up in the pre-Internet era and firing up her imagination with the colorful printed adventures of superheroes like the one at the center of her latest film, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, in which she plays the villainous Kalypso, one of three sister deities (alongside Helen Mirren and Rachel Zegler) seeking to reclaim the stolen magic that powers up Shazam (Zachary Levi) and his similarly powered family.

Liu tells PEOPLE that, as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, her younger self never envisioned a pathway into such a fanciful, heightened world and its unique place in American popular culture.

“I think for me it just seemed like it was unattainable at that time, just being a part of that Americana and that it was kind of like Bazooka gum — it’s just something that existed that was before my time,” she admits in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

“And because my parents were from China and they both immigrated to New York separately and met there, it just didn’t seem like there was ever going to be a connection with me and what was given in the world.”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“And so now that I get to be a part of that, it’s very exciting because there’s something very nostalgic about it,” she adds.

But playing a bad guy in a superhero epic hasn’t yet earned Liu any extra cool mom cred at home with her son Rockwell, she admits.

“My son doesn’t really know that much about superhero movies yet,” says Liu. “He’s seven and he’s very aware of things like Harry Potter, things that have magic in them, but we haven’t really gotten into that whole Superman, Spider-Man thing. And I think this will be something that he’ll be able to discover when he’s a little bit older… He’s going to grow into it a little bit. So we’ll see — ask me in a few years!”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Meanwhile, indulging her inner child does come with a degree of hard work, like learning how to ride an enormous dragon — one that would later be rendered through CG.

“It’s about learning to grip on for dear life [to] this mechanism that was created,” the actress explains. “And it was one of the first times they were using it, which I don’t know if it was good or bad, I was a Guinea pig for it.”

Gareth Cattermole/Getty

But after years of working with Hollywood’s increasingly sophisticated and complex special effects in films like Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Liu says she feels like an FX veteran ready for anything. “I never think too much about the visual effects of something,” she says. “Whatever they toss at me, I can do it because I’ve been there before. I’ve done it.”

Shazam! Fury of the Gods flies into theaters March 17.

Fore more about Liu, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Source link