Does that pressure inspire you then?
I do think it does, to a certain extent. I wanted to do justice for them, and I hope in the success of this film that we can change it in terms of them being allowed to stay in this country.
I saw in one of your recent Instagram stories actually, that you mentioned about films being machines for empathy.
That’s from you guys! That’s from Roger Ebert! Yes. I totally forgot where I picked that up from, but I just remembered today. So, I gotta start saying, “Just like Roger Ebert said …”
He would want you to have it! Especially as you started directing more, did empathy become more of a guiding principle? Do you think about empathy first and foremost?
Oh my god, it’s what rules everything for me. One of my goals is to bring empathy to my community, which is Asian Americans, and then secondly to all of us. I’m always trying to find how we can coexist in this country through my films, and that requires empathy. You look at “Blue Bayou,” and I even try to bring empathy to the cop, the dad, to the real biological father, and even to an ICE agent. That’s because I don’t want to alienate anyone, I want us to all know at the end of the day that we’re in this together. It’s just that we sometimes come from different walks of life.
Was there an evolution script-wise in how you wanted to present the cops? Or was it from the beginning that you wanted to show that not all cops are bad, so to speak?
Yeah, you know, my brother-in-law is a cop, my sister’s husband. They are not all bad, I promise. I know for a fact they’re not all bad. And at the same time, my family has dealt with the L.A. Riots, we got looted. That was also a direct response to the Rodney King beatings. We always have to play a little bit of devil’s advocate, right? We speak of empathy and we have to step inside other people’s shoes, maybe consider why they do what they do, or what they are feeling? Because we are all human. Even the most evil and vile of persons, I’m sure they have some sort of twisted justification for what they do, and nonetheless some of their own moral compass or justification that they operate by.