MOVIES | “Gran Torino” interview with Bee Vang


Acknowledging an early release date of Dec. 17 with limited screenings in select cities, Warner Bros., is hoping the film will net Academy Award recognition, something that seems to follow Eastwood like a magnet.

In an USA Today interview, Eastwood referenced the possibility that this may be the last film he appears in.

“Yeah, it’ll probably be my last,” he says of Gran Torino in the USA Today interview. “I’ll be drummed out of it after this one.”

He goes on to elaborate on acting in GT. “It was fun. But I’m not destined to do too many more. I’ve been happy doing the ones I haven’t been in.”

Hmong Today caught up with the other male lead in the film, first time actor Bee Vang, 17, from Robbinsdale, MN about his experience in filming with Eastwood and the rest of the crew of GT.

The following is an excerpt from that interview:

Hmong Today: So how did it feel when the studio called to let you know that you had gotten the part?

Bee Vang: Well, they had told me earlier that I was one of two people they were considering to cast. So when they called later that day to let me know Mr. Eastwood had chosen me, I was so happy I jumped up and down and I don’t think I’ve landed yet!

HT: Is it true that Clint Eastwood himself hand picked each of the 10 Hmong actors?
BV: Yes, it’s true. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Mr. Eastwood and his wife went through all the candidate’s photos and chose the final ones. I guess we were chosen for a specific reason, something to do with the way we look.

HT: Can you describe your first meeting with Clint Eastwood?
BV: When I first met Mr. Eastwood, I was so nervous. I turned to my older sister (who went with Bee as a chaperone during the filming) and asked her how I should act. Mr. Eastwood was all business, talking all about the film and his approach. Eventually, I just realized that he was human just like everybody else, which helped me to finally relax.

HT: Clint Eastwood has announced that GT may be the last movie that he acts in. With all the legendary films under his belt, including the multiple Oscar Awards, how does it feel to know that you may be a lasting part of his legacy?
BV: Honestly, I’m feeling nervous. I’m hoping I don’t ruin it for him!

HT: So how about yourself? Has this experience opened new doors for you in terms of the film industry?
BV: Actually, yes. I mean, I never thought I’d be in the film industry, but after being in this movie and having worked with Mr. Eastwood, I have a whole new appreciation for the movie industry. And also, I do plan on taking film classes in college.

HT: How was it to work with the rest of the Hmong crew, being that most of you were first time actors?
BV: Oh, it was really fun! Getting to know all them was a blast. We all are busy in our own worlds, but to have that one special time together will be with me for the rest of my life. Actually a couple of the guys have some film experience, especially Doua Moua who has been in a number of films before. We all learned a lot from him.

HT: Did Clint Eastwood ever reveal to you guys why he chose to do this movie? I mean, to basically come out of retirement to act in this movie must mean he really liked it for some reason.
BV: I think we may have talked about it, but I can’t really remember too clearly. But from what I can recall, I think he said he and his wife really liked the script [written by Twin Cities native Nicholas Shank] and I think he said something about admiring the Hmong people too. That’s what I can remember, anyway.

HT: One last question. It was revealed that all the lead actors would be making Screen Actors Guild (SAG) type money. Can you tell me how much you made for this film?
BV: (Silence)
HT: OK, give me a range.
BV: I can say it was somewhere between $15,000 – $20,000. Not too much, but for a month’s work, I think it’s cool. It’s just in the bank right now being saved for the future.