One of the good resolutions 2017 for Anvaya: sum up the interviews! We are starting the year with Jean-Paul Ly, starring in Jailbreak movie.
Hello Jean-Paul, can you please introduce yourself ?
My name is Jean-Paul LY, I’m a profesional actor and stuntman since 3 years now.
I was born in Lyon (France) from a chinese cambodian family. I currently live in London (United Kingdom). Since the age of 5, I’m practising martial arts and I also belong to the Identity Drama School and Agency London.
We all can watch you perform on movie « Jailbreak », can you talk about this amazing experience to us ?
Jailbreak was a real adventure. First for it is the first cambodian action movie of all time, with biggest budget and its big deal strikes me immediately. It was an ambitious project, ever done in its own way.
In 2O14, Producer Loy TE asked me about this project and I came to meet him in Cambodia during few days. Meanwhile, I also met Director Jimmy Henderson and Bokator Stunt Team leader Dara OUR in order to study the terms of my potential contribution.
Jailbreak shooting was quite rough but i twas no surprising because i twas obviously expected from an action movie. I had to face many shots, many scars, but finally everyone was successfully safe ! The hard work was actually to keep everyone safe, to keep the shooting going on well, to look after the right angle to shoot during fights scenes. We also had to train the actors and the stuntmen, extras in a short period within a month. It was really tough but we di dit.
Regarding the action, the challenge was to value unknown Bokator’s beauty in a martial art movie. We successfully mixed several martial arts styles to make a very synchronized performing. The stuntmen team was directed by Jammy CHHUN who did a very good work, as best as european stuntmen. I really do consider them at this point.
I also remember that one day, I came with a bag filled with all the protect materials for the stuntmen and actors, these materials we actually used for all the dangerous performing takes, and it came that it wasn’t not enough for the scene we had to shoot which had to be longer than usually. Then I saw all the Bokator squad help each other in cutting boxes into slices to make plastrons, rolling newspapers to make protections for elbows. It was awsome to see how they invested themselves fully, I was amazed by their passion and this was not rare to see.
Jailbreak was an amazing professional and human experience, the most difficult of my career so far, but the most significant because it remains a project which belongs to Cambodia, for my small contribution to our culture, and I hope, for the earning of the Cambodian Pop culture !
I really thank producers Loy Te and Michael Chai, and the director Jimmy Henderson, who believed in this project and to make it come true.
We have seen that you are living in London, how are you related to Cambodia?
Yes I currently live in London because most part of my work is here.
(My link with Cambodia is in the answer below)
How did you know Anvaya?
I met Anvaya thanks to my cousins Christine Ly and Khemanita Sok, I attended to one of your event just before the shooting of Jailbreak in Phnom Penh. I had a very warm welcome, and I was very happy to see so many implicated French Cambodians for the country, I found it very hopeful.
What means to you the return to Cambodia?
As most of the diaspora’s young members, my parents had known this terrible war and came to live in France. They always used to tell me about their stories and experiences, which made a very mystical halo upon the country, which turns to be very abstract to me.
In 2011, I went to live in Cambodia or 2 years and a half, when I was working in marketing for pharma industry, which allows me to discover Cambodian culture in a pragmatic way. All the stories of my parents came real and allowed me to discover more about myself, and that was a very instructive experience.
When I decided to become an actor, I went to live in London, where I started my career and I went back to Cambodia to shoot Jailbreak. I know it was meaningful to my parents, especially my father, to work on a project which could make an impression for Cambodian Art history in arts.
During the shooting I remember to have met Cambodian students who came to ask me some advices on how to “succeed in life”, which was very theoric!
My answer to them was « to go to school, to go on the studies, to have a dream and to do everything to make it come true, to search for excellency in everything they intend, and the meantime, be there for their families.” Maybe it seems idealistic, but this is what I try to accomplish every day, thanks to my father teachings.
It is a return to the motherland, but this is also what I can give to my country, symbolically through a movie like Jailbreak, which is much more than a regular action movie. This movie is a message to the youth, to value the self-improvement; and in a more intimate way, this movie is dedicated to my parents, believing that they will be proud of it!
Will you recommend anyone to come back ?
Of course ! I truly know that there are many french Cambodians from the diaspora who wonder about what is Cambodia nowadays. Having made this big step, I can guarantee you that it will bring you a great human experience. Cambodia is amazing and it must be experienced once a life time.