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Meng'er Zhang Dishes On The Intense Prep She Needed For Shang-Chi - Exclusive

Looper recently spoke with Meng'er Zhang, who plays Xialing in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings." This is Zhang's first-ever movie role, having spent the last decade or so performing theater in China. Like many fellow MCU performers, she had no idea she was auditioning for a Marvel property when she first got word of the audition.

"I didn't know I was auditioning for a Marvel film when I sent my self-tapes," she revealed. "I didn't even know. I just saw an audition call in a group chat and it said they needed a girl who can speak Chinese and English. So I thought, well, I can be that girl. So I sent my self-tapes without knowing anything. And when I got a call back and when they flew me to do a screencast with Simu, I found out while I was auditioning for 'Shang-Chi.'"

Given the intense nature of her role, we had to ask a little more about how she prepared for it.

An amazing, intense process of preparation

"I didn't have a martial arts background before the film," she said, "so they flew me in four months early to train. And I can tell you the training progress is, like, amazing. It's very intense, but fun. You can hear Simu and I screaming on the stunt stage from a mile away." Indeed, she noted that when she showed up for her audition, "Simu showed up in his slippers and his training suits because he had already started his training."

All that training came in handy with her very first scene, which sees Xialing fight Shang-Chi.

"I did punch him in the face when we shot the fight scene," Zhang revealed. "Because before that I was nervous. I don't want to hurt anybody, even though we practiced a thousand times, but I was still nervous because I'd never done anything like this before. And Simu encouraged me. He said 'It's fine, if you hit me or anything you're not going to hurt me.' So I just got into my character and I went for it. I didn't mean to punch him, but I did and I kind of enjoyed it." She let out a laugh and revealed that he was fine but "after that scene, we got so many bruises all over our bodies."

"Shang-Chi" is now in theaters.