Iron Fist, the latest show in the Marvel/Netflix universe premieres this upcoming Friday. While the date rapidly approaches, Build.AOL got a chance to sit down with Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing. Henwick’s character will be appearing in both Iron Fist and the upcoming The Defenders. If you didn’t know, Wing is a martial arts expert who runs her own dojo in New York.
While her show’s debut in the Marvel universe may have been panned, fans are still excited for the upcoming The Defenders miniseries which will see all of our Netflix heroes coming together a la Avengers. Henwick, understandably, didn’t give any details surrounding the show. She did, however, have a geek out moment that we can’t blame her for.
“It’s really cool. Luke Cage and Iron Fist meet each other and that scene made me jump for joy.”
Jumping a bit ahead, she was asked what her most unforgettable filming experience was outside of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones, and lucky for us, she spoke about a scene from The Defenders.
“In Defenders. Can’t really say much but it’s a helicopter scene and I’ve never been in a helicopter before and it terrified me because of the heights thing. But getting to fly over New York, you just kind of go ‘Wow. The opportunities that my job gives me..’”
A major part of portraying Colleen Wing is being familiar and proficient at martial arts. Seeing as the role was physically demanding, Jessica made it clear that she walked away with a few battle scars/injuries. It seems as though it was all worth it in the end, as she gained a better appreciation for the arts.
“For the show, I mainly learned Japanese martial arts. I’ve since discovered my love of Chinese martial arts. So I’m starting to learn straight sword which is so polar opposite to katana but I do love doing the katana. And I have to say, I was very tempted after finishing the year off to disappear for a month and just go to Japan. I just thought, ‘You know what? I just want to live in the mountains in Japan and learn to use the katana properly.’”
While learning an entire fighting style is impressive enough in and of itself, she also had to learn how to use the katana, a traditional Japanese sword.
Katana was easier to pick up but harder to get to a decent level. It’s easy to look like you’re swinging a baseball bat. Whereas the other martial arts I was doing, I learned aikido and a little bit of karate, a bit of Krav Maga. It was easy in that we got to pick and choose different moves from martial arts, specialties. Our stunt coordinator Brett made a style for Colleen. So I didn’t have to dive too deeply into those things. But the katana, I mean this is meant to be her ancestral sword. It’s a big deal. She had to be phenomenal. I definitely think that as the series goes, you can see that I improve. I have a katana fight that I think is amazing in episode 8.
Fighting and stunts aside, Jessica really wanted to get into the character’s roots and mythos. Absorbing herself into Colleen’s personality was just as important as nailing the physical aspect of the role. Lucky for her, she had an entire backlog of comics to look into.
When Finn got cast, I hadn’t got a callback yet. But I happened to be at a convention and went hunting for Colleen’s first appearances in the comic books. So I bought that and still have that at home. I read a little bit more into her storylines. There’s real depth to this character that I’d love to see moving forward. I also researched Japanese customs and hierarchy and things that she would know. Dojo etiquette, those kinds of things.
Iron Fist stars Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Rosario Dawson, and David Wenham. The series premieres all of its episodes this Friday, March 17th, on Netflix.