THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE – Deborah S. Craig & Kheng Hua Tan Gush Over How Inspir-Asian-al The New Film Is

THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE interview with Deborah S. Craig & Kheng Hua Tan
The Tiger's Apprentice

Paramount+’s of The Tiger’s Apprentice, a film that weaves the rich tapestry of Chinese mythology with contemporary storytelling, stars Deborah S. Craig and Kheng Hua Tan bring their unique cultural and astrological backgrounds to the forefront. Their recent conversation with Kevin Fenix from the Illuminerdi sheds light on how their personal connections to their Western and Chinese Zodiac signs influence their approach to their roles and their views on this culturally significant project.

A Blend of Eastern and Western Astrology

Both Craig and Tan express a deep connection to their dual astrological identities, finding characteristics of themselves in both their Western and Chinese Zodiac signs. This duality not only shapes their personal lives but also enriches their performances in The Tiger’s Apprentice.

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Kheng Hua Tan, a Capricorn born in the year of the tiger, finds herself aligning with the traits of both signs. She describes how the Western horoscope’s monthly focus and the Chinese Zodiac’s yearly perspective both play integral roles in her life.

“Okay, I align with both. And this is the absolute truth. So, there’s a difference though. And that is, on a monthly basis, I tend to want to read the Western horoscope, okay? Because in a year, the Western horoscope is demarcated by months, right? On a yearly basis, I tend to read the Chinese zodiac.”

-Kheng Hua Tan, Mrs. Lee in The Tiger’s Apprentice

Tan’s embrace of both zodiac systems underscores the multifaceted nature of identity, reflecting the complex interplay of cultural influences that individuals navigate in their lives. This nuanced understanding of self, mirrored in the layered characters of The Tiger’s Apprentice, adds depth to the film’s exploration of identity and heritage.

The Tiger's Apprentice
L-R Sherry Cola as Naomi, Sandra Oh as Mistral, Bowen Yang as Sidney, Henry Golding as Hu and Brandon Soo Hoo as Tom in The Tiger’s Apprentice, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Paramount+.

Deborah S. Craig identifies as a Gemini tiger, embodying the strength and multifaceted personality traits of both signs. Her description of being “strong and silly” captures the essence of her dual astrological identity, which she sees as a source of strength and creativity in her life and work.

“Yes, well, I would meet people and they’re like, oh, what are you? And I would be like, I’m a Gemini tiger. And they’d be like… So I really am because Gemini’s are a little wacky and tigers are real strong. And so I am both things.”

-Deborah S. Craig, Pig in The Tiger’s Apprentice

Craig’s alignment with her Gemini and tiger signs highlights the dynamic interplay between her personal characteristics and her approach to her role in the film. This alignment allows her to bring authenticity and depth to her character, enriching the narrative with her personal experiences and cultural insights.

The Power of Cultural Richness in Collaboration

The Tiger's Apprentice
Kheng Hua Tan as Mrs. Lee in The Tiger’s Apprentice, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Paramount+.

Working on The Tiger’s Apprentice, a project that celebrates Asian culture and mythology, has been an enriching experience for both actors. Craig speaks to the freedom and creativity that come from collaborating within a culturally aware team, where shared understanding eliminates the need for explanations of cultural nuances.

“It’s super inspirational, hashtag. Yeah, it’s super cool. So when you go into a project and the team is Asian, you don’t have to go through all these explanations of things that are culturally appropriate or things you do or don’t want to do.”

-Deborah S. Craig, Pig in The Tiger’s Apprentice

This environment of mutual understanding and respect fosters a space where actors can fully immerse themselves in their roles, exploring their characters’ depths without the constraints of cultural stereotypes.

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For Kheng Hua Tan, the film’s focus on the Chinese Zodiac resonates deeply with her Singaporean Chinese heritage, making her role in the film both personally and culturally significant.

“What’s that? For me, you know, the Chinese Zodiac, I’m Singaporean Chinese, right? It’s so much a part of my life, real life, you know, so much a part of my country. And so to be a part of a movie, you know, that has the Chinese Zodiac as a central theme is wonderful.”

-Kheng Hua Tan, Mrs. Lee in The Tiger’s Apprentice

Tan’s connection to the film’s thematic elements highlights the importance of cultural representation in media, allowing stories that are deeply rooted in specific traditions to reach a global audience. This representation not only celebrates the richness of Asian cultures but also underscores the universal themes of identity, heritage, and belonging that The Tiger’s Apprentice brings to life.

Now Streaming

The Tiger's Apprentice
L-R Sherry Cola as Naomi, Jo Koy as Rooster and Greta Lee as Rabbit in The Tiger’s Apprentice, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Paramount+.

The Tiger’s Apprentice stands as a testament to the power of storytelling that bridges cultural divides, offering audiences a glimpse into the world of Chinese mythology through the lens of characters who navigate the complexities of their dual astrological identities. Deborah S. Craig and Kheng Hua Tan’s reflections on their zodiac alignments and their experiences working on this culturally rich project underscore the film’s significance as a milestone in the representation of Asian narratives in cinema.

The Tiger’s Apprentice is now streaming exclusively on Paramount+ on February 2, 2024

About The Tiger’s Apprentice

The Tiger's Apprentice
Photo credit: Paramount+.

Release Date: February 2, 204
Based on the novel The Tiger’s Apprentice, by Laurence Yep
Director: Raman Hui
Co-Director: Paul Watling and Yong Duk Jhun
Screenplay: David Magee and Christopher Yost
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Executive Producers: Maryann Garger, Kane Lee, Carlos Baena
Producers: Jane Startz, Sandra Rabins, Bob Persichetti
Production: Paramount Animation
Distribution: Paramount+
Cast: Henry Golding, Brandon Soo Hoo, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Michelle Yeoh, Bowen Yang, Leah Lewis, Kheng Hua Tan, Sherry Cola, Deborah S. Craig, Jo Koy, Greta Lee, Diana Lee Inosanto, Patrick Gallagher, Poppy Liu

Based on the popular children’s book series of the same name by Laurence Yep, THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE follows Chinese-American teenager Tom Lee (Soo Hoo), whose life changes forever when he discovers he is part of a long lineage of magical protectors known as the Guardians. With guidance from a mythical tiger named Hu (Golding), Tom trains to take on Loo (Yeoh), a force that is as powerful as a Guardian but with evil intentions to use magic to destroy humanity. To have a fighting chance against Loo, Tom must reunite all twelve Zodiac animal warriors and master his own newly discovered powers.

Have you watched The Tiger’s Apprentice? Which Zodiac set do you most align with? What’s your go-to dim sum order? Let us know what you think on Discord!

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Picture of Kevin Fenix

Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.