Korean American actress, model, comedian, and fashion designer Hana Mae Lee may have been sacrificing teenage boys in the Netflix summer hit, The Babysitter, but she’s taking one last bow in the more family friendly flick, Pitch Perfect 3. The film takes fans to various locations overseas as The Bellas compete for a chance to open up for DJ Khaled, but can they keep up when other groups challenge them by using instruments?
Hana plays the soft spoken beat boxer Lilly who by the end of the film has a memorable scene that magnifies the brilliance of the actress’ comedic talents. Sure to make waves in the future as a character actor, and designer Screen Rant was able to speak to Lee about The Babysitter, whether she actually does her own beatboxing, and growing up in an Asian household.
SR: You have had a very busy year, and one of the standout films of 2017 in my opinion was The Babysitter.
Hana Mae Lee: Oh, thank you.
SR: You were awesome in that. I just love your comedic timing. How did that come about, and were you surprised by how successful it was?
Hana Mae Lee: I always wanted to do horror and I always wanted to play the villain and my agents like yeah, whatever girl, you’re doing comedy. It took me like 3 years, to even get a horror script, and then when I got The Babysitter from McG, I was pretty stoked. Yes, I get to play the satanic villain, and it was pretty fun. A lot of the monologues I had were improvised. Some of the subtitles on Netflix are incorrect which is really funny. I’m a huge horror fanatic, so I love movies like The Human Centipede. McG was fantastic, there was a lot of blood, a lot of explosions, he loves to go big with all of the explosions so that worked out really well. It’s like the number one viewed movie in all of Netflix, ever. And that was pretty exciting news. I like that people really like it. It’s campy, horror, like good time, good music, and, I’m glad you liked it.
SR: Campy horror in a good way. It’s a good quality movie. Not like 70’s campy horror.
Hana Mae Lee: Sure. Exactly.
SR: Between singing and beatboxing, which is your favorite? And are there different vocal warm up techniques for either one?
Hana Mae Lee: Yes. Yeah. I really wanted to do my own beatboxing, cause with the first movie half of it was not me, and then half of it was. Then with the second movie I did about half of it as well, but since this movie was the last one I wanted to do everything. The beatboxing, your throat, it scratches a lot, with certain different beats that you do. Certain noises you make, frog beats you do, deep down base and all that stuff. If I don’t do warm ups, and I have to sing after the beatboxing, it’s just awful. Like the worst thing, so, I would have to do vocal warm ups, and then, go from there. And I don’t have tonsils, so everything is a little bit more scratchy.
SR: Have you ever injured your vocal cords in any of these movies?
Hana Mae Lee: Um, yeah. Well like, for the beatboxing, luckily we pre-record. I always ask them if I could sing first, and then beatbox after, just cause, I can’t go backwards. It’s like if you were screaming at the top of your lungs, and then you talk normal. It’s kinda like that. It just puts the weird scratchiness in your throat. I just kinda have to really be careful, especially if I have to do a Lily voice after, and I have to like do her like, quiet voice, I can’t do both. I just sound like a grandma.
SR: So, your kind’ve doing the most work here. You know, besides Rebel and her whole heist scene. You have to do 3 different things with your voice.
Hana Mae Lee: With Lily, I have to get her right because sometimes it doesn’t sound like her if I don’t get the right pitch in there. In the second movie my voice had changed from the first movie. So, she sounds a little more mature.
SR: Well you did an amazing job because it sounded really professional. I don’t know how much is Hana Mae, and how much of it was someone else. So that’s really good to hear.
Hana Mae Lee: Thank you. Yeah, Deek and Ed worked really hard with me. They did a great job.
SR: So in my experience, the last day on set feels like the end of summer camp whether it’s a 2-week shoot, or 2-month shoot. So, did the last day of Pitch Perfect 3 feel any different than the 2 before it for you?
Hana Mae Lee: For the first film I knew Adam Devine, we had just shot Workaholics, like literally the week before. So I only knew him, and then we all built a friendship. So, when it was over, it was, 3 months is like a long time, now we’re used to 3 months. For every Pitch Perfect film we have a month of boot camp, which is exercise, dance, singing, and recording. So that was a little faster this time. So it is like summer camp where at first you don’t feel like being there, and then towards the end realize that you do actually love being there. It’s almost a quarter of a year which is a long time.
SR: It is a long time. You know, to film a movie, but you guys prepare really hard for it, and I heard you ladies are really, really close in real life. So, what’s the best offset experience you’ve had in your opinion?
Hana Mae Lee: So this year I’ve been an aspiring recluse. Not just with these girls, but I just don’t go out as much as I used to. We used to go out all the time after filming the first movie, went to all the birthday parties, and concerts. It’s just been kind’ve really nice for me to not go out as much. I’m at that moment in my life.
SR: Oh, welcome to my life. I’m like a homebody.
Hana Mae Lee: I used to go out so much. And then, now, I’m just like, I don’t know. That sounds great. And then, I’m like, mmmm, have fun guys.
SR: Yeah. Like, please somebody cancel. Please. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on you lately, and, at one point you said that your parents didn’t want to really support your choice to start acting, and then your mother had come around after Pitch Perfect. And that your dad was getting there. Has he started fully supporting your career choice yet? And what advice would you give someone facing the same obstacle?
Hana Mae Lee: Yes, he has fully supported me now. He went to a couple of my premieres, and he’s going to come to this one which I think is the biggest premiere he’s gone to. He didn’t come to the second one, cause he wasn’t doing well. And when he came to the other two premieres, it was for a movie I did called Unleashed. And, for The Babysitter, he was just like, so proud, and like, so happy for me. And now he brags to his friends, and I’m like, hey, you don’t get to have bragging rights [laughs]. I’m realizing that I need to be easier on him. Now he’s supporting me, so I should be really happy instead of being stuck in the past and angry about it. It’s like the best feeling, because it took both of my parents a long time to come around. I wasn’t booking a lot of things for awhile, and then I would just do commercial and print. They’re like “you have a fashion degree, and you’re just doing commercials and print when you could be building a career and running a company”. That was really hard, because growing up in an Asian family is different from growing up in an American family where you can just live a life of your own. You’re very connected with your parents, their thoughts, and their goals for you. It was very hard to break out of that and not feel ashamed. Now it’s full blown support, and they’re so proud. That just makes me super happy.
- Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) release date: Dec 22, 2017