Violinist Alice Hong doesn’t believe in boundaries that confine classical music to any one type of audience. A versatile performer, she doesn’t confine herself to those boundaries, either. Hong, already an international concert violinist, composer, and photographer, has expanded her resumé to include acting. She’s making her debut in the new Netflix original movie “Red Notice,” starring Dwayne Johnson, Gal Godot, and Ryan Reynolds. Hong joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share about her wild ride playing a violinist on a multi-million dollar movie set – a surprising way to stay busy during a pandemic that kept so many musicians on pause.
Hong said the role as a violinist in “Red Notice” seemed to fall into her lap. “What I’ve learned about the film industry, is that everything is a little more spontaneous than I’m used to. So I just randomly got an email that was forwarded to Michael Kurth of the ASO. He’s a bassist. And he just sent this off and said, ‘Maybe some of you can do this – it looks legitimate.’”
So Hong sent in a short video of her playing the violin, along with her age and height. “I didn’t hear anything for a month… But then, I got another email from the casting director, who asked me to be ready to move into a hotel tomorrow, with three weeks worth of luggage. And I did it.”
Hong gave a detailed account of the hectic experience of working on a movie set. “It was nerve-wracking, because the first time on set, they cleared everyone out except for the band. And we had these probably multi-million dollar cameras flying in on us at once. We only got two full takes of the song, and they also didn’t give us the music to what we were playing, so we were figuring it out by ear, and making sure that we mastered the recording that was playing in the background,” said Hong. “Just to know that this director of a multi-million dollar film only has us, right now, on their agenda – it was pretty exciting.”
In “Red Notice,” Hong plays a member of a band, hired to perform at a masquerade ball by the movie’s villain. She was thrilled to be in the movie, but doesn’t make any claims about being especially well-briefed on the project. “I’m not quite sure what it’s about, besides the fact that the three main characters are art thieves,” laughed Hong. “While we’re performing on stage, there is a dance number done by the Rock, and I believe, Gal Godot. And I guess they’re discussing their next heist.”
For safety precautions, the scenes were filmed with separate groups of actors and then composited together in post-production. Hong’s scene was shot with the musicians performing, but none of the rest of the cast was present. The cast then did their work separately, to be edited together later. “That’s why it took so long to film because we were technically done with our scene the first day that we were on set, but we were there for four more weeks because they had to do all this layering and reshooting of that same exact scene, to make sure everyone was included.”
Next up for Hong, she plans to return her focus to her photography business and to perform in Atlanta’s Candelight Concerts, which feature classical music in gorgeously candlelit venues like City Winery and the Trolley Barn. She also started a venture called Project Mainstream, a classical music video series. With projects like these, Hong hopes to keep classical music alive with younger, ever-diversifying audiences.
It’s hard to imagine she’ll drop acting from her repertoire, however, after such an unforgettable time working on “Red Notice.” “It was the craziest experience because I had never been on a set in my life. But now I’m living in a hotel with all these incredible people of that field, and all these performers,” said Hong. “I just fell in love with the fact that I was able to perform even though it wasn’t the medium that I’ve always performed in… I loved that I could contribute in a way that I had never contributed before as a performer.”
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