EXCLUSIVE: Marvel starts filming several Iron Man 3 scenes in Beijing on Monday. And I’ve learned from my Chinese-based movie biz sources that the studio has just cast leading Chinese actor Wang Xuequi as a new character playing “Dr. Wu”. The highly secretive Marvel has been prepping for the shoot for a week in Mainland China. DMG Entertainment is Iron Man 3’s Chinese distributor, and is working to help staff the shoot on the ground. Marvel still intends to file for co-production status – but apparently they have a permit to film and are ready to go on that front.
It was rumored a few months ago that Hong Kong actor Andy Lau would be joining Iron Man 3 as an ally of billionaire inventor Tony Stark, but he quickly backed out. Then several online comic book sites claimed 64-year-old Xueqi would be a last minute addition taking on the role that Lau had been circling: Chen Lu who is the civilian alias of Radioactive Man. But I’m told Xueqi’s “is not a huge part”.
With a film career that has spanned over 25 years in China’s film industry, Wang Xueqi is what many call the Sean Connery of China. He was often cast in early Fifth Generation films, such as Chen Kaige’s Yellow Earth (1984) and The Big Parade (1986), Huang Jianxin’s Samsara, and Zhang Yimou’s Codename Cougar (1989). He has since carved out a niche in the Chinese market as a character actor. He has recently appeared in award-winning roles in Forever Enthralled (2008) and Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)
Xueqi joins the cast that already includes Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, James Badge Dale, Ashley Hamilton and Rebecca Hall. Shane Black is directing from a screenplay by him and Drew Pearce; This third installment of the billion-dollar franchise now owned and distributed by the Walt Disney Co is produced by Marvel topper Kaven Feige and scheduled to be released in the U.S. and China on May 3, 2013. It will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in all territories worldwide except China where it will be distributed by DMG Entertainment, and in Germany and Austria by the Tele München Group.