Brow Beat

Simu Liu Is Having the Time of His Life

The future Marvel superhero is already a star to Thirst Aid Kit.

Liu walks across a Comic-Con stage, smiling and waving to the crowd
Simu Liu at San Diego Comic-Con on July 20. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Simu Liu is best known for his role on the sitcom Kim’s Convenience, but you’re about to see a lot more of him—he’s playing the superhero Shang-Chi in an upcoming Marvel movie. On a recent episode of Thirst Aid Kit, Bim and Nichole got a little “upset with how beautiful this man is.” This transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Bim Adewunmi: OK, Nichole. We started the show with Yahya [Abdul-Mateen II]. We went a little bit wild because he does tend to inspire that in a lady, or anyone to be honest. We’re now going to move a little bit. We’re going to cast our gaze to another up-and-coming, truly-can’t-take-your-eyes-off-him kind of guy. I’m talking, of course, about Simu Liu.

Nichole Perkins: He’s so adorable. And in the same way that we talked about Yahya as kind of a peacock who does all these thirst traps, Simu is the same way. He has no shame about himself—which is fine, you should not. But he puts out these little videos of himself on his Twitter, on his Instagram. He is fine as hell.

Adewunmi: I mean, listen, this is Thirst Aid Kit. We talk a lot about physical appearances alongside all this other stuff, of course. But every so often there is a face that is so arresting that you start doing that uncontrollable giggle. You’re just kind of like, “Oh, that’s your face. All right. OK.” It’s not something you can control—it just comes right from your diaphragm. It’s just kind of like, “Oh, this is taking pleasure at symmetry in the world.” The same way I would smile at a perfectly shaped tree or the way I look at a really wonderful mango, and I’m like, “Oh, that shit looks juicy as hell.” The fact of Simu’s face is just like, “Oh, it’s pleasing to me.”

Perkins: He’s funny, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he’s able to poke fun at himself. This is just from what I’m seeing from his Twitter presence and social media presence. I would want to hang out with him. I would want to go to a bar and just chill with him for a little bit. Not even on some “come home with me later” kind of stuff, but just flat-out “let’s go hang out and just chill.”

Adewunmi: Right. He has the vibe. He looks like a good-time boy. And I don’t mean that in the sexy way. I mean it as “let’s spend time laughing and joking.” Particularly in the summertime, I can see him in a beer garden. I can see him in a park. He looks like the kind of person who is born for the outdoors, and you guys would just have a laugh the whole time. And the older I get and the more I want to sit down, the more I think to myself, Well, who’s going to sit beside me? I want people who seem like they are good company and they are funny and they are kind and they just seem to be engaged.

There is a thing that I’ve noticed in all of his interviews—and he’s been doing a lot more interviews, of course, for reasons we’ll get into. He does this thing where he maintains a really remarkably engaged listening face. So he doesn’t look like he’s bored, he doesn’t look as though he’s waiting for you to finish so he can talk. He doesn’t look as though he has literally got a list of answers, and whatever he says, it’ll make sense somehow. He leans forward, and that really is a small, subtle way that lets you know a person is involved. He does that thing where he has a smile on his lips, so he’s kind of like, “Uh-huh, I’m hearing you.” He nods, but never too much, just enough. And then when it’s time to speak, he refers to your question, he refers to points you’ve made. He just seems—again, wild projection here—but you know when you can see someone engaging with you as a human being?

Perkins: Yes.

Adewunmi: That shit is hot. I’m sorry, but it is. And the bar is underground. I say this, I admit it freely. But it just feels like when a person treats you like a human being, shockingly, that shit feels nice.

Perkins: We’ve heard so many different celebrities over the years talk about how they know that these interviews are just selling themselves, and sometimes they just check out a little bit and they’re not fully engaged. And they’re saying the same things over and over again, so they’re not able to really bring their personalities fully into some interviews sometimes. But Simu—when you have somebody who can sit there and repeat the question back to you or fold it into their answer so clearly and so thoughtfully, it’s just like, “No, we’re still on the same level. Just because you’re interviewing me does not make me a better person than you. We can still have this good conversation, and it can go from there.”

Adewunmi: Exactly. It’s hot, Nichole. Say it. Say it with your chest. It’s nice to see.

Perkins: Yes, yes. And yes, the bar is underground. But these things still count for something. Even with the bar being in hell.

Adewunmi: One of the things I enjoy also about Simu is he understands that right now is a really purple patch for him, and he is happier than a pig in shit. He is just like, “Listen, it’s great! My life is great.” For one thing, he did that thing which can be cringey and/or effective, and in this case it clearly was—he has been @-ing Marvel for literally years saying, “Hey. Hey.” He’s basically the annoying kid tapping you on the shoulder going, “Excuse me. Excuse me!” And he did that shit for literally five years. And the answer was “Guess what, bitch? I’ve now been cast as Shang-Chi.” So you know what? It worked. Persistence pays off. And listen, you know how much I hate when people @ celebrities on Twitter, especially if they involve me. I’m like, “Please, I know how to @ someone. Don’t do it.” In this case, he was @-ing them himself. He wasn’t going, “Hey, guys, @ Marvel and tell them to cast me.” He was doing the work himself, and I respect that.

Perkins: He knows what he wants and he went after it and you cannot do anything but respect that. I really like that you said that he recognizes that he is in this purple patch because that’s what makes it endearing and not cringey, that he is so thirsty a little bit, because he knows that everything is fleeting. He knows that he’s not going to always have this body around. He knows that he’s not always gonna be a fucking superhero in a Marvel franchise. He knows that, and that makes perfect sense. Let’s just be present, enjoy today, and go from there. Because that’s all we have, today—as we have learned through all of this stuff. [laughs]

Adewunmi: Oh, wow.

Perkins: I’m sorry!

Adewunmi: That started out so light, and then it ended in an existential crisis. As we have learned, kids, death is coming.

Perkins: [laughs] I’m sorry. It’s starting to weigh heavily on everything now.

Adewunmi: A patina of dread everywhere you look.

Perkins: I finally started watching Kim’s Convenience, which you have told me about for years. And I just was like, “I’m gonna put it in my Netflix queue, and I’m gonna get to it,” and I finally started watching it. This man’s face is the fucking sun. What?

Adewunmi: So when you told me you started watching it, I released a breath I wasn’t even aware I’d been holding. Like, Finally, this bitch. You say it, and you hope people take on your recommendations in their own time. Of course, everyone has lives and whatnot. But then when you started it, a weight was lifted off. Because I love the comedy of the show, obviously the comedy is top-notch. I love so many of the lines—some of the line delivery, you can tell there’s just perfect synergy between the writer and the performer. I love so much about it. I love the ease with which the characters embody themselves. It’s lovely. But he plays a character called Jung, and the first time I saw him … [sighs] Nichole, you know when you do a stereotypical double take?

Perkins: Yes.

Adewunmi: Literally I think I said out loud, “What?” The barf of this remains Lin-Manuel Miranda looking at Manny Jacinto and going, “No, that can’t be right.” But that’s not far away from where I was. I saw him and I was like, “Wait a fucking minute. This dude is just in Canada, just walking around?”

Perkins: Right!

Adewunmi: What’s going on?

Perkins: Do I need to go to Canada again? What is happening? What is happening? His character works at this car rental agency, and so he’s in a uniform, and he has to wear this robin’s-egg blue shirt—

Adewunmi: That shit is beautiful. Nobody has ever, ever looked good in that color in a polyester fucking shirt, and Simu said, “Actually, I’m going to look amazing in it.” It’s going to offset all the undertones in my skin brilliantly.

Perkins: Oh, my God. And the lighting, of course, it’s very bright sitcom lighting. I’m just so upset that I waited so long to watch him. The first time the camera sets on his face, I was so upset with how beautiful this man is.

Adewunmi: You’re at a loss for words, Nichole.

Perkins: He has this really sweet, caring look on his face when we first see him. He’s talking to his sister, and then his boss comes in, and his boss has this clear, awkward crush on him. And so he takes a little pity on her, because he sees that she’s trying to put some moves on him, and no, baby, it’s not gonna happen. But he still is kind to her. It’s all there in his face, and I’m just like, “Wow, come see about me.”

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