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Marvel's next blockbuster, Doctor Strange, promises to welcome us into the world of the supernatural! Unsurprisingly, the film features a number of cameos — and one of the most promising was a cameo from Linda Louise Duan, a British-born Chinese actress who's playing the part of Tina Minoru! Sadly, I can confirm that Linda's scenes didn't make it past the final edit, but that doesn't necessarily mean her Marvel story is done. You see, the character of Tina Minoru is a particularly important one...
Who Is Tina Minoru?
Tina Minoru is potentially a bridge between Doctor Strange and Marvel's planned Runaways series; she's the mother of one of the Runaways, Nico Minoru. Naturally, Linda wasn't able to give any indication whether or not she's expecting to reprise the role in Runaways, but fans are eagerly awaiting news. That said, Linda's knowledge of the original comics quickly shone through when discussing her role in Doctor Strange. She observed:
"The Tina in Doctor Strange is obviously a younger Tina than in The Runaways, so that gave me space for my own interpretation of who she is. She has never been explored before at this point in her life, not even in The Runaways comics."
It's a fascinating teaser, making me dearly hope that we'll see Tina in the Deleted Scenes of Doctor Strange. It also shows that Linda clearly did her homework when preparing for the role! What's more, although the fact Linda's scenes have been cut from the final film is very disappointing, she's actually already made her MCU debut - she was the model for the character's depiction in the official Doctor Strange Prelude comics!
Who Is Linda Louise Duan?
Linda's journey into an acting career is fascinating. She originally intended to study Architecture at University, but for fun she signed up to a week-long course in Mime with Desmond Jones. At the end of the course, he suggested she pursue it as a career; soon she was studying at what she happily describes as "the best Mime school in the world", the International School of Corporeal Mime. The summer after she graduated, Linda went to Edinburgh Festival, where she learned of Philippe Gaulier - a world-renowned teacher who she fondly describes as "the Ancient One of theatre!"
Soon Linda was studying under Philippe in France. Curious, I asked for her best memories of the time and she replied:
"Oh, definitely Philippe himself. He’s the sweetest and funniest guy and I miss him so much. I definitely want to go back to visit him when I get a little less busy. Also the bread. Nothing beats a freshly baked baguette from the Boulangerie."
Linda was working with the Russian judoka Oleg Maltsev when she got a call from Doctor Strange's crowd Assistant Director, Holly Gardner. Amused, she remembers:
"I didn’t know what I was auditioning for at the time, so I kind of was like “I’m in Israel at the moment, can’t I just send a self-tape in?” And I was sent an NDA with the Marvel logo on, and when I saw that, I phoned her back and told her that I’m booking my flight back to London!"
Her Martial Arts skills seem to have been an essential part of getting the role - they were 50% of the audition! Although Linda has a great deal of Martial Arts knowledge, she specifically trains in Shotokan Karate with the Japan Karate Association of England.
"I train as much as I can, really. Three times a week max. Obviously I have to miss sessions here and there if things come up, and I stopped training a bit when I was at Mime and Theatre school, but since I graduated, I’ve been training more. Shotokan Karate is great because it’s so safe. As an actress, I don’t want to injure myself, as that will put me out of work for a while!"
It looks as though that training has really paid off in a big way!
Doctor Strange And Beyond!
Doctor Strange was Linda's first experience of film, and she describes it as "magical".
"I remember being blown away by the sets and the costumes. Alexander Byrne made the most beautiful costume to my measurements, which was such an honour, and everyone on production is just so nice! Special shout out to the Hair and Makeup ladies, especially Spob who worked her magic on my hair, and to Holly and Daisy too."
Moving on from Doctor Strange, Linda's been working alongside Feature Film Director Jamie Weston, who hoped to cast her for a music video for a local band. The two clicked immediately, and were soon working on a project called Sinners. This is a néo-noir detective film set in modern-day London, due to be finished in early 2017. It's about a detective, Nathan Obie, who specializes in the Occult and investigates a series of murders; the trail leads Nathan to Linda's character, Black Lotus. Linda describes Black Lotus as "a tough character who is used to fending for herself, although inside, like everyone else, she just wants to be loved."
Early in October, Jamie Weston Films produced a brief short film called The Realm Beyond - made as part of the MCM Comic Con film race. The brief was received on Friday October 7th, to be submitted on Monday October 10th by 7am! Amusingly, the subject was "Magic and Mysticism" and the title they were given was "The Realm Beyond". It's no surprise that Marvel fans will recognize quite a few nods to Doctor Strange in the finished short, which stars a character who was named Tina as a bit of an in-joke.
Excitingly, The Realm Beyond was shortlisted for the finals on October 16th, with winners to be announced on Sunday October 30th at the London Comic Con, where it will also be screened. If you're there, don't miss it!
As a fellow Brit, I couldn't help asking Linda what it was like growing up in the UK from a Chinese background. To my delight, she said that she hadn't experienced any explicit racism at all. Reflecting on it, though, she added:
"I think role models is the main issue I had as a kid, though, because I had Barbie dolls which I loved but I guess they skewed my view of beauty as a child. I remember wishing I had blonde hair.
That’s what I hope to be and provide. A great role model for Chinese girls growing up in the west, because there aren’t very many."
I have to be frank; in everything Linda's said, one thing consistently stood out to me: her work ethic. Whether in Mime, Martial Arts, or in her new acting career, Linda is clearly the kind of person who always gives 100%. Given that's the case, I'm confident that she's already achieved that dream, and is already a great role model.
I don't know what the future may hold for Linda; I admit that I'm really hoping the role of Tina Minoru continues on into Marvel's Runaways. Whether it does or not, though, this is one woman to watch. I wish her the very best of luck!