Actors keep having to know (or fake) new skills.
They must ride and shoot, perform surgery, spout words that only doctors or techies would understand.
Now consider Elodie Yung (shown here), whose “The Cleaning Lady” debuts at 9 p.m. Monday on Fox. She plays a Cambodian doctor who becomes a Las Vegas cleaning lady, then works for a crime ring.
She had to learn how to do emergency first aid, but that wasn’t the hard part. “I had to learn how to clean,” Yung said in a Television Critics Association virtual press conference.
That’s no exaggeration, co-star Oliver Hudson said helpfully. “Her trailer was a disaster zone. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – like a tornado, a daily tornado.”
That also applies to co-star Martha Millan, said writer-producer Melissa Carter.She “I can attest to the fact that Elodie and Martha are the worst cleaning women ever. I had to show Martha how to vacuum; she was literally ramming the vacuum over the cord, on camera.”
They had to be like their characters, who are good at new skills. Yung plays Thony, a doctor who moved from Cambodia to the Philippines, then found that her son needed a transplant that was only available in the U.S. Leaving her husband behind, she move to the U.S. with her son; now she lives with her sister-in-law in Vegas, where both do cleaning.
This is complex turf, requiring Thony to adapt and adjust. That’s a skill held by the actress who plays her … and by the actor (Adan Canto) who plays the mobster who hires her.
Adapting used to be a daily task fo Canto, who grew up along the border. He lived on the Mexican side, where his dad was both a dentist and a cowboy, on Adan’s grandfather’s ranch. But Adan went to a Catholic school in Del Rio, Texas.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, crossing the border a dozen times a day was no big deal … I had a group of friends on both sides,” he said.
He’s American here, he said, but “I go back to Mexico and I’m fully Mexican, whatever that means, and fluent in Spanish.” He falls into “the beat, the rhythm of that culture” – a skill that helps actors.
Yung is familiar with the notion of adapting. “My dad is Cambodian,” she said. “He’s the eldest of 10 kids, but he lost everything during the genocide, between ‘75 and ‘79 …. He’s the only one who managed to escape.”
He eventually reached France, as did his uncle, aunt and cousins. Yung, born in 1981, was French in school, Cambodian at home. “I’ve always been closer to this side of my family than my mom’s (French) side, and I think that’s enriched my childhood.”
Her skill set kept evolving. She started learning karate at 9, landed some French TV roles in her early 20s, but got a law degree. At 29, she enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Afterward, she ended up mostly in the U.S. “In France, it’s a lot of networking, which I’m not really great at,” Yung said. “Here in America, I felt they … just wanted to see what you could give.”
She could give action-adventure skills and more. She played Elektra in the second “Daredevil” season and then in the “Defenders” miniseries. She showed that she can save the world; and now, she also knows how to clean.