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Adette Weiman at the Fourth Street Bridge in Los angeles, April, 2015. Photos: Brian Higbee. Styling: Nicolas Klam/Jed Root. Hair: Lee Seon Yeong using Bobbi Brown.
Korean actress and model Adette Weiman is making her statement in the American industry. On top of being the second Asian American to star in a drama on American television as the title character on the CW's spy drama Nikita, in the last 10 days, Weiman's latest Hollywood film, Joss Whedon's pithy superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, has taken in over $312 million at the box office. Her series, Netflix's 13th-century drama Marco Polo, is about to start shooting its second season in Malaysia. Earlier this year, her work in Disney's Big Hero 6 helped deliver an Academy Award win and secured a recently announced sequel. As of February, she is also one of the faces of the All-American makeup brand Bobbi Brown.
In Avengers, Weiman plays Dr. Helen Cho, a Seoul-based geneticist who is developing a machine to build human tissue.
NATIONALITIES: American and South Korean
FAVORITE MARVEL FILM(S): Don't make me do this! One of them is going to text me complaining about how I didn't pick their movie. How about Avengers, the first one? That covers all of them. I am all about making everyone happy.
ACTING IDOLS: Joan Chen, easy. Working with her has been a dream, honestly. This sounds really shameless, but her performance on Marco Polo is so enviable. Every time I watch her do a scene, I can't help but get all starry eyed over how beautiful she is and how in control she is over her character. Also, Uma Thurman. The Kill Bill series is one of my favorites, and I've always admired the way she played The Bride and all the fight choreography she did.
JERSEY GIRL: I've never forgotten my Jersey roots. I was born and raised there. And even though I moved away when I was 15, I have the road rage and the love of pizza and bagels of a true Jersey girl. My mother and father still live out there. They've been running their own restaurant for years. My father, even though he's not Korean, he has the best barbecue marinade I've ever tasted.
CULTURE SHOCK: Moving to South Korea was hard at first. I spoke the language, but I felt so American and disconnected from my mother's family. There are a lot of unspoken rules and expectations that were vastly different from what I was used to, but when you're a teenager, you adapt quickly. You bounce back a lot easier than you do later in life even if it feels like it won't. I think I had more of a culture shock moving back to the US a few years ago. It's incredible how much pop culture stuff I don't know because I spent half my life outside of America.
SERENDIPITY: It was an accident - one of those ridiculously cliche stories. I was running around Seoul with my younger brother, and we were waiting at a metro stop trying to go home. Some stranger stopped me, gave me his card, and said if I was interested in pursuing a modeling career, I should give him a call. I did that for a few years until I made the break into acting.
INTRODUCTION TO HOLLYWOOD: I did my first American film in 2006 with this guy named Tom Cruise. Mission Impossible III was a dream come true for a girl who never thought she'd be acting. I heard they were scouting for actresses in Asia, so I leapt at the opportunity. I even memorized a few phrases in Mandarin to try to pass off like I knew the language in case they needed me to speak it. After that, I started doing one or two movies here and there for the international market, mostly small roles in big global projects and eventually I decided I wanted to represent not only Koreans but Korean Americans in Hollywood.
AUDITIONING FOR MARVEL: It was such a secretive process. I didn't even know they were casting in South Korea until someone at Marvel passed on a piece of a script to my agency. I don't know how I made the shortlist, but somehow I did. The script had all these codenames, like George Clooney was code for Thor. I wasn't allowed to tell anyone I was auditioning for months.
MARCO POLO: Initially, I auditioned for Kokachin and they ended up having me read for two characters, Kokachin and Khutulun. They sat me down and had a talk with me on what kind of character I really wanted to play, and we explored what kind of character development I wanted to see come out of both women. In the end, we decided that Khutulun was the right one for me. I'm very glad we did that process because Khutulun is an incredible historical figure. She's a Mongolian warrior who had the respect of every man. She was her father's confidante and advisor in their military campaigns, despite the era she lived in. It's been a privilege to play such a strong woman.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON IS OUT NOW.