Cung Le is a Man of Many Talents
Interview with Cung Le by Penny Buffington
The multi-talented Cung Le discusses his decision to give up his belt in order to concentrate on his acting career. "I decided to vacate my belt. I have been out of action in the cage for the last 17 months. I felt like the right thing to do- the honorable thing to do- is to vacate the belt so the top competitors in the Strikeforce middleweight division could compete for the actual belt, not the interim belt. Because I don’t feel that it is right for me to keep doing movies while everyone is waiting around or fighting for an interim belt. I sat down with my promoter Scott Coker and we worked it out."
Coming to the decision was not easy especially considering his long standing relationship with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. "It was a very difficult decision. I have been fighting and competing in martial arts since 1994. I turned pro in 1998. I have been with Scott Coker since 1998 when I signed with him. He put me on ESPN 2 on Strikeforce Kickboxing and made me fight for titles in super fights. Also we went over to K1 USA to do super fights and then when he opened up the mixed martial arts Strikeforce division I was part of his first show and my last show with him was against Frank Shamrock."
"Just because I vacated the belt does not mean I am retiring I plan to come back early next year. With everything that has been going on with me the last year and a half I have been able to do movies at the same time fight but as the parts get bigger and the rolls get more demanding I came to that fork in the road where I basically had to make a decision and my decision right now is to strike while the iron is hot and do the best I can do in the world of entertainment, movies and stuff."
In fact one such movie Cung is in, Pandorum will be released this Fri. September 25, 2009. Le explains, "Basically the movie starts in this massive space ship. The 2 min. trailer talks about there are 60 thousand people and 500 years. It’s like a Noah’s Ark going to a livable planet. They have every nationality on this ship in sleep chambers that will keep them young and healthy so when they do get there they will wake everyone up and re-building begins. But, somewhere along the lines during that time frame people start waking up and the 2 crew members Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster when they wake up they think they are alone. They don’t remember anything of what they were supposed to have done because they have been asleep so long. So Dennis Quaid is guiding Ben Foster through the vents. Along the way Foster notices there are other people and craziness going on and I save them in my opening scene and we team up and we explore the ship."
Obviously Cung Le did not just walk on to a set and snatch up a movie roll without putting in a whole lot of effort. "I have been taking acting lessons since 1998 off and on. I have gotten more serious in the last 2 years. I have been working with private acting coaches. I knew when I got the part in Pandorum that it was going to be no easy task. Most of my scenes were shared with Ben Foster. My manager told me he has known Ben since he was 17 and they call him the scene stealer as you can see in Alpha Dog and 3:10 to Yuma he stole the show from whoever he shared the screen with and I did not want that to happen to me. I made sure that even for the audition I had time to prepare for it. I trained just like I would be training for a fight. Morning and night putting myself on tape, getting with my private acting coach and doing scene study. When I got to the audition I knocked my audition out of the park and they cast me for a roll that was supposed to be Japanese. They couldn’t find the right Japanese so they opened it to all Asians and I beat out all the top Asian actors that went out for the part. The director Christian Alvart told me a lot of people auditioned. I was excited and I knew that was just the beginning of a lot of really hard work because now it’s "go time". I get to go toe to toe with Ben Foster so it was pretty awesome." You can view a complete list of movies Cung Le has been in and will be in the coming year at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1087183/
As with many professionals Le has a family he has to distribute his time to as well. "I have 2 boys, Cung Michael is 8 and Anthony Ryan is now 4. I got married in August to Susan. She was my rehab therapist before we started dating. I had a major hamstring injury. She was the therapist at Score Clinic. We became friends and one thing lead to another and now we are married."
Cung Le may have given up his Strikeforce middleweight title spot but they will never actually take his belt. He told me, "They make new belt every time lucky for me I have a nice Strikeforce Middleweight belt really no one can ever take."
"When I come back I plan to be in the best shape and hopefully not to have too much rust. I will take it one day at a time one fight at a time and one movie at a time right now it is all about promoting Pandorum. I’ve got a few days before it gets released and Overture Films was kind enough to do a little premiere in San Jose for me at the AMC Mercado. They added a Q&A after for the media. It starts at 11:30." Media please contact AMC Mercado for the date.
Here are 5 things you may not know about Mr. Le "I think I’m a funny guy. I let my sons win every day when we play either baseball or football. I have sweet tooth for chocolate. I am grateful everyday I wake up. I’m a Round 5 -series 4 -action figure. It’s pretty cool"
Wrapping up the interview Cung thanks his supporters. "Thank you for all your support and for sticking by me. When I come back I will make sure that I am in shape. I always come in ready to fight; and win, lose or draw I will be ready to put them spinning back kicks with full affect when I get back into the cage."