Rain stars in Ninja Assassin

The K-Pop singer moves to action films with Ninja Assassin.

Fred Topel by Fred Topel

Rain stars in Ninja Assassin

Rain may be the most famous person I've ever interviewed, and all I really know about him is from The Colbert Report. The superstar of K-Pop had a dance-off with Colbert after he beat the satirical pundit on a list of most influential people. Now he's becoming a movie star with a part in Speed Racer, and a starring vehicle in next year's Ninja Assassin. Directed by the Wachowskis' protégé James McTeague, Rain will play an orphan who becomes a ninja warrior.

Q: So I first heard about you on The Colbert Report. I loved your dance-off with Stephen.

Rain: It was so fun. Thanks.

Q: The dance/off wasn't live though, right? Did you have to tape it after the audience left?

Rain: Well, we didn't go live because Stephen had to learn his moves too. Then the rehearsal time was a little longer than expected so they just went on tape.

Q: How into ninja mythology are you?

Rain: From when I was young, I wanted to be an action hero. I always dreamed about being an action star. So finally I made it.

Q: Did you watch Ninja movies or read books?

Rain: Yes, maybe when I was seven years old, yeah. I saw ninja animation, ninja cartoons. I loved ninjas when I was younger.

Q: Ninjas are Japanese. Are there Korean ninjas?

Rain: Yes, we have Korean ninjas but they're very different. It's different than the Japanese ninjas. It's sort of a traditional martial arts clan.

Q: So in the movie, are you a traditional Japanese ninja?

Rain: No. Actually, I play an orphan that was picked up in the streets, so I'm not actually a Japanese ninja. More like an international Asian orphanage kid. So the role was not a typical Japanese ninja.

Q: Was the physical training and action at all similar to dancing?

Rain: Yeah, I think everything is almost the same, but martial arts is harder because I ate only chicken breast and vegetables. It almost killed me. It was so horrible.

Q: Did your dance background help you learn these moves?

Rain: Dancing did help me learn the martial arts moves better, easier, so it did help me.

Q: Exactly how famous are you?

Rain: I debuted in Korea six years ago, so I've been working for quite some time. You'll know if you come to Korea how big I am, just by coming there. I was big in Asia but now I want to do more here with Ninja Assassin, so wait for me.

Q: It's definitely happening. Did it take six years to build up to this fame?

Rain: Well, I was big as soon as my first album came out, so ever since, luckily, I've had that fame in Asia. Now it even led me to a big Hollywood martial arts movie.

Q: What would you like to be able to do if you could have privacy again?

Rain: I want to read a lot of comic books. I want to watch movies. I want to rest. I have a lot of work in Asia so it's not easy.

Q: What sort of new music are you working on?

Rain: Right now, I'm interested in electronic pop music but I love all kinds of music. Hip hop, R&B, so whatever. So I'm working on my new album, my music is based on hip hop and R&B, rap music, pretty sweet.

Q:Where do you get your inspiration?

Rain: I don't get my inspiration from a specific source. It's more like if you listen to a good tune, it gives me inspiration to write a better tune.

Q: Has that changed over the years?

Rain: Nothing has changed. It's just good music or a good movie always inspired me to be better, learn more.

Q: What inspires you in movies?

Rain: It's not that different. If I watch a sad movie, I get inspired to write a sad tune but if I watch a cool movie, I get more upbeat. So it depends on the movie.

Q: Why were Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin the right movies for you?

Rain: I chose Speed Racer most of all because of the Wachowski Brothers. Then also I was a big fan from when I was really young of the original Speed Racer. So that's why I chose the first one. Second one, it's because James McTeague, I've worked with him before and I had faith in him. Working with him was such an honor. So that's why I chose Ninja as my second movie.

Q: What were your favorite weapons in the movie?

Rain: My favorite is the sword. The sword is very funny. Then my second, my second girlfriend is Ninja chain.

Q: Do they have different uses for different bad guys?

Rain: Yeah, it depends on the bad guy. The sword is better for, obviously, cutting and the chain is better to strangle them. So it's different.

Q: How different was playing a character from beginning to end than doing a short video?

Rain: I think they're very different. For a music video, you just play a role that people can watch you and just enjoy the music with. But versus in a movie, it's actually a character living the whole life in that movie, so it's different.

Q: How about a small part in Speed Racer versus playing the main character?

Rain: Most of all, I take on a heavy responsibility for the main character. I had to put more effort into it than the last one, definitely more.