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Sung Kang On Why The Fish In Snakehead Mean More Than You Thought - Exclusive

Today marks the release of "Snakehead," a new crime thriller about the underworld of human smuggling between China and Chinatown, New York. The smuggling gangs, known as snakeheads, charge exorbitant fees of the people they smuggle over, and often give them degrading work to pay off their debts. "Snakehead" tells the story of a smuggled woman who rises through the ranks of the gang to pay off her debt sooner, all so she can freely meet her estranged daughter.

A prominent member of the gang is Rambo, played by Sung Kang. Rambo is violent, impulsive, and as much a danger to himself as everyone around him. But there's one place where he's always calm and content: his aquarium. He has a series of fish tanks in a room and he makes a point to attend to it regularly. It's clearly an important part of his character. 

In an exclusive interview with Looper, we asked Kang why — of all things — fish pacified Rambo.

Connecting with something that can't talk back

"Rambo is so dynamic and loud and big," said Kang. "When he's with his fish, it's probably the only time that he's truly himself and he's able to connect. And it's funny that he can only connect with something that can't talk back. But then there's this, methodical kind of poetry with the fish. And it's simple. There's laws of nature. If you feed and you take care, it survives. Or if you don't, then it dies. And also, the fish need Rambo."

This simple connection is important to Rambo, who speaks more via his actions than his words. Sometimes he just needs a place where neither are particularly needed. "So I think it symbolizes this place of solace. This is where he comes to unwind, and this is his temple and his hiding place. It's where he hibernates, and he's able to be the true child behind this big character Rambo."

The crime thriller "Snakehead" is now in theaters, on digital, and on-demand.