Rich Ting is a multi-lingual and extremely talented actor, rising to the top of nearly everything he puts his mind to. His college years were full of sports accomplishments, and his multiple black belts do more than reinforce his commanding physicality. He has appeared in front of the camera and behind it as well, functioning as an actor, stuntman, director, and more. Starting out in television and appearing on shows such as NCIS: Lost Angeles, Supergirl, and Beyond the Break, Rich’s portfolio only grew from there. Since then he’s appeared in projects around the world, including Korean projects like Iris 2: New Generation and the 2013 film Lone Survivor. Fans of Rich Ting can look forward to seeing him in the Cinemax series Warrior, a gritty crime drama set in an 1800’s Chinatown. We got the chance to talk with Rich Ting and ask him a bit about his life, his accomplishments, and his works.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! You’ve been all over the world, holding a variety of positions in a smattering of entertainment industries. Your newest project, “Warrior”, will be airing on Cinemax in the fall of 2018. The show is inspired by the works of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and aims to tell a dramatic crime story set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1800’s. Could you tell me a bit more about your character on the show?
The drama is inspired by an idea from the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee. “Warrior” is an action series set against the backdrop of the Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. It tells the story of Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who immigrates from China to San Francisco and becomes a hatchet man for one of Chinatown’s most powerful organized-crime families. Based on the real character and close friend of Bruce Lee, “Bolo Yeung”, I will be playing the character of “Bolo,” the universally feared fighter and top lieutenant of the Hop Wei Tong.
Speaking of martial arts, you pack quite a punch off-screen too, thanks to your multiple 1st degree black belts. What sparked your initial interest in martial arts, and what is the greatest lesson that martial arts have taught you?
Bruce Lee was the sole reason why I began my martial arts training at the age of 4 years old. I remember learning how to play, pause, and rewind my parents’ beta machine replaying and rewatching all of Bruce Lee’s films. I self-taught myself how to use the nunchucks, boa staff, various other weapons by simply watching and studying his techniques and style throughout all of his films.
Martial arts have always been a significant part of my life. It emphasizes and strives to teach self-discipline, self-control, integrity, focus, commitment, balance, and perseverance. All of these qualities apply to not only the craft of acting but to life in general. My martial arts training established the foundation of not only my biomechanics as an athlete but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual structures of having self-discipline, self-respect, self-control, and perseverance. I believe that with the culmination of both my martial arts training and the morals and lessons established by my parents at a young age, I have been able to stay focused and committed on being not only an obedient and respectful son but also a well-rounded individual. Throughout the various adversities we are confronted with and face in everyday life to our individual careers to our personal relationships, I am grateful and extremely thankful for my parents allowing me to begin my martial arts training at such a young age so that all of these values and foundational qualities could be installed and integrated into my early development as a young child. I believe that these same qualities co-exist and intersect with my training as an actor, and I continue to use all of the tools and techniques from my martial arts background to help me grow and mature as an actor.
Martial arts mastery isn’t your only accomplishment in terms of physicality; you spent lots of time playing sports in school. In fact, you even helped your team become the Ivy League Football Champions when you attended Yale. How has the team-building of sports influenced your creative philosophy?
As I continue to mature and grow as a person and actor in my craft, I realize how significant and impactful sports have been in my life, character, and overall perspective. Throughout the numerous athletic teams (football, basketball, soccer, baseball, track and field, etc.) that I have been a part of, the notions of teamwork, collectiveness, cohesiveness, and commitment have all taught me valuable lessons that I continue to apply to my personal and artistic lives. Being an actor is a very lonesome occupation. You are often alone prepping, training, rehearsing and auditioning by yourself. It is only when you arrive at a live set and production that you are able to interact and work with other fellow actors to achieve the ultimate goal of successfully completing your scenes. Having been a member of various athletic teams, I understand the importance of staying committed and dedicated to fulfilling your responsibilities as a team member. Your team depends on you and vice versa. This applies to the creative process of being an actor as well. You must take full responsibility to train and prepare yourself for your scenes with other actors, so “on the day” when cameras are rolling, you able to perform at best of your ability among your fellow actors (or teammates) in order to successfully shoot and capture that specific shot or shots. I continue to use all of the tools and knowledge that I have obtained from my coaches, teachers, and teammates throughout my life to help me in times of adversity and challenge as well as to prepare me for success on and off the big screen.
Besides acting, you’ve appeared on camera in the form of stunt work. Given your level of physical discipline, I imagine this work is both enjoyable and rewarding. However, stunt work can be highly dangerous and requires a certain kind of thrill seeker. Can you recall one of your favorite stunt scenes, and why it stands out among the rest?
One of my favorite stunt scenes involved being shot in the head by Gerard Butler and getting ratcheted down a flight of stairs to my death in the film, “Gamer”. This was actually my first “big” stunt, and I was very excited to be working with the action star himself. I remember running up the stairs with my assault rifle in hand and then, getting violently pulled back against the adjacent wall as soon as Gerard fired in my direction. We did this take about 20 or more times, and each time I came crashing down to the bottom of the staircase. Gerard smiled and told me after we finally got the shot, “I guess I can’t kill you anymore”.
You finished school with multiple degrees in business and law, yet decided to pursue acting as a career. Was this a difficult decision? What is it about acting that encouraged you to become a full-time actor?
Having played Division I college football at Yale University, I continued to maintain my physical weight training and conditioning workout regimens as well as my martial arts well after graduating from college. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate school careers, I trained (as a hobby) at different acting studios as a way of pursuing my childhood dream of being a Hollywood actor. After graduating from both law school and business school, I was coincidentally approached and asked by stunt coordinators in Hollywood if I would be willing to do stunts in some upcoming feature films. With absolutely zero knowledge or experience in the filmmaking industry, I decided to take this challenge as an opportunity to learn and educate myself on set etiquette, film and television culture, as well as just “jumping right into the fire.” I promised myself (and also notified my close friends and family that were in the stunt business) that I would work in stunts until I was able to completely cross over to the acting side of the industry. As a result, I was fortunate enough to work on various major Hollywood feature films gaining and obtaining an immense amount of knowledge and insight about the filmmaking industry.
My career as an actor began in Los Angeles, cast for “Lenny” in the TV series, “Beyond the Break” (2007-2009) and “Heatblast” in the Warner Brothers’ (Cartoon Network) feature film, “Ben 10: Race Against Time” (2007). That same year, I was also cast in the feature film, “Deadly Impact” and in 2009, I debuted on the big screen alongside Angelina Jolie in the film entitled, “Salt.” It has been not only an absolute dream come true for me to be working as a full-time actor in Hollywood but also the best decision I have made in my life thus far.
You’ve also done a fair amount of modeling, both overseas and in the US. In your time modeling, I like to assume you’ve seen some pretty extraordinary places. Is there anyone location that stuck out to you; what’s the most memorable place that you’ve visited in recent memory?
Yes, I have had the opportunity to model in various extraordinary locations throughout both Asia and the U.S. However, the most memorable place that sticks out to me in my career as a model in San Francisco, CA. In 2009, I was selected as 1 of 11 top male models in the entire U.S. to model for the Macy’s Passport Fashion Show. Even though we toured this runway event in different cities, the San Francisco show was one of the biggest highlights for me as a model as I returned to the Bay Area, where I had gone to high school and where my parents had been living. All of my friends and family members were able to attend and share this incredible honor of being selected as a top model to walk the longest catwalk runway in the U.S. wearing some of the industry’s top international brand names hosted by the late Elizabeth Taylor and actress, Sharon Stone. I will never forget seeing my mom in the audience as she witnessed me on this epic runway stage working the catwalk as one of the top male models in the U.S.
To summarize, not only are you an accomplished actor but also work behind the camera. Additionally, you’ve made a name for yourself in both the modeling world and the sports world. You have multiple degrees in challenging fields, speak multiple languages, and have traveled the world. This may sound cliché, but what’s your secret? How do you find the time to balance everything at once and walk away with such large accomplishments?
First, thank you very much for your kind words. I honestly lose track and forget about what I have accomplished in my past due to the current busy schedule that keeps me looking forward and ahead to the next day. That being said, I do not know how to completely answer this question.
Throughout my early life, I was always searching for something that would “wake me up in the morning and get me out of bed”. In college, I heard all of my classmates discuss their future plans and career goals but I still had not pinpointed exactly what I wanted to do. I always knew regardless of what I chose as a future career that I would need to absolutely love it, be it, and live it every day of my life. From being a history major at Yale while completing all of my pre-med requirements to earning a joint J.D./M.B.A. dual degree in graduate school, I still did not know what I wanted to do with my life. My parents taught me to always keep working on something and never stop. If I didn’t know what to do, then I should just keep doing what I was currently working on. And that’s exactly what happened. An offer at a law firm in downtown Los Angeles brought me back to L.A. where I coincidentally received my first job offer to work on a Warner Brothers’ feature in the summer of 2007. My dream of being an actor in Hollywood had begun and since, I continue to be motivated by the unknown factor of what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. When I was 4-years old, I began to study martial arts because of my motivation and inspiration from Bruce Lee. So many decades later, I am now continuing my childhood idol’s idea, dream, and vision he created prior to his unfortunate death. Never would I have imagined that I would be starring in a project created by the greatest martial arts legend of all time while continuing the pursuit of my dream of being a Hollywood actor. Bruce Lee was quoted saying, “Running water never grows stale, so you got to just keep on flowing”. Similar to what my parents preached and taught me when I was a child, I continue to stay motivated, committed to my craft, and to never stop “flowing”.
Finally, I want to thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s been a pleasure reviewing your work and finding out more about the things that make you tick. Before we wrap up, is there any other upcoming projects that my readership should keep an eye out for?
In 2017, I was cast as “Keith Jenloe”, the managing partner of an investment bank, on the CBS TV series, “NCIS: Los Angeles” and I will be returning as a recurring character in 2018. I have also recently completed the independent feature film, “Prisoner of Mind”, in which I play the character of “Paul Nguyen,” a graduate student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who works as a tour guide for people visiting the National Mall, including the Vietnam Memorial. Unbeknownst to Paul, Vietnam War vet, “Sgt. Matthew Medder” has been stalking and studying Paul and his family’s background. Sgt. Medder, a Vietnam P.O.W. who was a prisoner in a North Vietnamese prison camp, discovers that Paul is the grandson of the North Vietnamese commander that held him captive. Suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) as well as various other mental illnesses, Sgt. Medder strategizes and eventually seeks revenge on his former captor by kidnapping and torturing Paul. The film focuses on the numerous illnesses as well as P.T.S.D. that our war veterans suffer from and experience upon returning home from war. Throughout the intense dialogue and conversations between Paul and Sgt. Medder, it becomes evident that these war veterans continue to require additional medical care and attention throughout their recovery and assimilation back into mainstream society. The film addresses the issues of revenge, hope, forgiveness as well as the impacts and influences of religion, including Christianity.
“Warrior” is scheduled to premiere on HBO’s Cinemax channel in late 2018.
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I'm a life long gamer and an overall media junkie. In addition to writing great articles like this, I host a gaming/comedy podcast called "Super Gamecast 64" available on iTunes and Stitcher. I also watch an unhealthy amount of movies, and try to spread as much love into the world as I can. Hope you enjoyed the content!