She owns Morgan's heart, she prefers Linux and Star Wars, and she just might be Chuck's future ally in the secret agent wars - Julia Ling talks to about playing Anna Hu and holding her own on Chuck.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Julia Ling

Julia LingShe owns Morgan’s heart, she prefers Linux and Star Wars, and she just might be Chuck’s future ally in the secret agent wars – Julia Ling talks to about playing Anna Hu and holding her own on Chuck. Ms. Ling, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. We here at are really enjoying watching Anna become an integral part of Team Bartowski.
Julia Ling: Thank YOU !

CTV: What is it that drew you to the role of Anna? How much of you is in the character?
JL: I wish I could be as techy as Anna!(laughs)

I struggled in engineering. Sometimes through frustrating hours just to find a tiny stupid programming mistake. Anna totally makes computer-fixing a piece of cake. What’s really cool about her, though, is not her computer-building expertise, but the strongly grounded confidence she’s got in herself. Although she may feel socially incapable of expressing her deep emotions, she will never succumb to societal norms. Anna isn’t the type of person who will try to dress a certain way or pretend to say certain things just to “fit in”. She’s got a take-me-or-leave-me attitude, a part of her which was inspired from Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”, novels I particularly bonded with in high school and college.

Anna may seem intimidating or indifferent with her nonchalance and heavy makeup, but she’s really just another computer geek who loves RPG and feels right at home with the boys. She works at the Buy More not because she needs the money, but because she loves her friends. Come to think of it, them Chucksters at the Buy More are family to me too.

And the moment of truth… I’m SUCH a geek. Reasons why Anna and I could be good friends: Anime, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Counsterstrike, Munchkins, Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Duty, etc.

One thing Anna and I have in common is that we’d both say “Linux Ownz!” I’m more into chemistry than Anna is though. Last year for Christmas, I thoroughly enjoyed buying someone a coffee mug with a caffeine molecule on it. Thought I was particularly clever until the mug’s handle broke. I was also attracted to the useless but adorable R2D2 and mini Yoda robots, and Mara Jade’s pink light saber.

CTV: Is there anything you don’t like about Anna, or just don’t identify with?

JL: I had a hard time figuring out why Anna was so jealous of Ellie. How silly. I cannot think of a time that I ever felt jealous like her. I guess I’m lucky that always been able to trust my guy completely, even if he was alone with someone else or halfway around the world.

Now here’s a thought I actually rather enjoy: Supposing there really is something fishy going on between Morgan and Ellie. Anna might just find a way to hook up with Ellie instead, then run off with her while leaving Morgan to wonder what had just happened. Okay, I’m really not THAT evil, but I gotta admit, that would have been cooler than jealous-Anna!

CTV: That would be an awesome twist! I’ll bet the guys would love it.

JL: Anna is crazy! (laughs) She believes in maintaining the balances between forces of good and evil. She may go out of her way to practice this conviction. Crazy girl.

CTV: What would you like to see happen with Anna in the future? Based on your own impressive set of accomplishments (languages, martial arts, leadership), I think Anna should become a secret agent herself!
JL: Sometimes, I wonder whether Anna truly is so oblivious to all that’s going on. She strikes me as the type of person who will pick up on clues around the Buy More. Anna is smooth and dangerous when her job calls for it, but yet so sweet and almost naive in her relationship with Morgan.

She can definitely be a great ally of Chuck’s when it comes to hacking into systems. She’s also keen and quick to respond. And she’ll stay calm and keep her composure in emergencies, which allows me to believe that she’s got what it takes to be a secret agent herself, and would be a very good one too.

CTV: What is Anna’s specialty in the Nerd Herd? How do you feel about playing the only female Nerd Herder?
JL: Anna is proficient in all OS, but is an absolute Linux snob. She’s efficient in many languages of computer programming, algorithms, debugging, hacking, etc. She understands in detail the anatomy of each hardware piece that goes into a computer tower.

As for playing the only female Nerd Herder, I don’t really think about it. I feel comfortable with all the boys, both as Anna and as Julia. The thought just never crossed my mind.

CTV: It’s been fun to watch the Anna/Morgan relationship develop. Do you think Morgan realizes Anna is actually in control?
JL: Anna, in control? I like the way you put it. Yeah baby! (laughs) They’re a really cute couple to watch. Morgan doesn’t seem to believe Anna is in control. She’s generally very cool with Morgan, for the most part, letting him do whatever he wants.

CTV: Rumor has it someone on the show is getting engaged soon. Will we be seeing Morgan in a tuxedo featuring shorts anytime soon?
JL: With shiny, polished tennis shoes and a decorated bike reading “Just Married”?

CTV: That is not an answer! Okay, moving on… You guys seem to have a lot of fun on camera – what is the chemistry like off screen? The Nerd Herders seem like the group that would play practical jokes on everyone else.
JL: Oh the chemistry is absolutely GREAT. The Nerd Herders probably would play AWESOME practical jokes! But we haven’t done anything yet. Still trying to be good. I get the feeling some shall soon cave in to their mischievous impulses.

CTV: We’ll have to check back with you later on, then. Between Lost, Heroes, Cashmere Mafia and other new shows, Asian actors seem to be getting noticed far more than before, and are finally being given chances to take center stage. Have you seen this make a difference in the roles you are playing?
JL: Absolutely. One of the biggest difficulties in this business was trying to convince the world that we’ve got something to sell other than our stereotypical values. And I suspect it’s the same for other “ethnic” groups as well. But all of that’s rapidly changed. Over the last couple years, the variety of roles for Asian Americans has really expanded. Asian women are no longer just the smart nerd or the kung fu dominatrix. The Asian American filmmakers in the generation before me have really showed a flexible range with their innovative ways in story-telling. They’ve created all kinds of interesting, fun, powerful and unforgettable characters.

CTV: You had a recurring role on last season’s Studio 60, which ended too soon, in my opinion. As a viewer, the show looked a little chaotic as a behind-the-scenes account of putting on a sketch show; was it chaotic in real life as well?

JL: There was definitely a lot going on, hundreds of extras, tons of things. But my overall experience of the show was that it was a lot more exciting and fun than chaotic. You saw the greatest in leadership. You saw the best in filmmaking. Producers and directors made great on-the-spot decisions. Everyone knew exactly what they were doing. They were well-organized, hardworking, punctual, responsible, funny… Always positive. The scripts were brilliantly written and easy to follow. Directors and actors came prepared but with an open-mind. Crew guys were strong – I couldn’t help it… I’m a woman – and they were very quick and efficient. We were in great hands.

CTV: Your role on Studio 60 required you to speak Mandarin and play the viola; how much of that did you have to learn for the part vs. what you already knew?
JL: Mandarin is one of the languages I speak, so it wasn’t difficult to learn Kim Tao’s lines for Studio 60. I did script out everything in Chinese for continuity purposes. And for accuracy, I reviewed my written translations with a few Chinese experts. There were scenes where Kim was to read from a newspaper column to her father. The jargon for a newspaper column is definitely different from the everyday conversation I was used to, so I purchased a Chinese magazine and compared the syntax, and got further help from language experts.

As for playing the viola, I was lucky I wasn’t asked to do it on the show. I talked to a viola player and asked her to show me how it was done. I did some research on being a musician and learned how to hold an instrument, how to hold the case once the instrument is inside, how to walk, talk, etc.

CTV: Well, we think you’re just amazing! Thanks so much for talking with us; we look forward to seeing more of you soon!

Like this interview? Learn more about Julia at her website. And check out our exclusive chat with Sarah Lancaster, too!

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  1. Nicely done Mel!

    Julia seems like a great person.

  2. I think I have been looking for something interesting to read about various topics, but I try to include you every day I read, because you have, I look forward to an interesting blog entry.Here’s hoping there’s a lot more great material coming! Here is hope that more great material coming!

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