‘Dragonball Evolution’ Stars Talk Fandom

'He's a die-hard fan,' Justin Chatwin says of co-star James Marsters.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA — How do you shoot the feverishly anticipated adaptation of a 25-year-old Japanese manga, a hugely successful cartoon phenomenon and a franchise that has given birth to several dozen videogames all over the world? First, you hire some very brave actors — and then you hope that nobody drops the Dragonball.

“The first time I heard the word I said, ‘Dragonball? Who is that person?’ ” laughed “The Day After Tomorrow” actress [movieperson id="261317"]Emmy Rossum[/movieperson] recently while discussing [movie id="373843"]“Dragonball Evolution,”[/movie] which hits theaters April 10. “I didn’t even know what to think … I used to watch the morning cartoons on the weekends — I think it was ‘Dragonball Z’ — so I kind of knew a little bit about the characters. That is why, when I heard they were making it into a movie, I kind of remembered the character — and the ‘tude.”

That ‘tude permeates Rossum’s badass Bulma, as well as characters like Lord Piccolo ([movieperson id="263688"]James Marsters[/movieperson]), Goku ([movieperson id="267743"]Justin Chatwin[/movieperson]) and Chi Chi ([movieperson id="1002638"]Jamie Chung[/movieperson]). And it remains intact for the film from “Final Destination” director James Wong, which tells the story of Goku’s awakening to his mysterious past — and the high-kicking adventures that follow after he sets out on a deadly mission to collect all seven Dragonballs.

“I’ve seen most of [the 'Dragonball' media over the years],” grinned “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Marsters, admitting he was probably the biggest fan of the series on set. “I’ve seen about two-thirds of ‘Dragonball,’ about 99 percent of ‘Dragonball Z,’ and about two-thirds of ‘Dragonball GT.’ I’ve seen the Cell cycle like seven times. I don’t know more than anybody — but I know enough.”

“He is so into it, you don’t even know,” Chatwin said of his co-star. “I mean, we’re fans, but he’s a die-hard fan. He’ll sit there and he brings it — like, he is Piccolo, there’s no one else that can play Piccolo but James. … If you ever have a question, ask him about anything that you’re uncertain about, who’s related to who in the family trees of Dragonball? You’ll just ask him and he’s like, ‘Oh, Vegeta. Episode seven, season three. Yeah.’ And then he’ll act out the whole thing.”

“Initially, for me and Justin, it was a little intimidating,” Rossum remembered of her initial fear of portraying a character long worshipped by die-hard Dragonball fans like Marsters. “You know you are taking on and bringing to life for the first time this character that everyone knows and feels they know personally, and feels like they know how it should be played. It’s a little intimidating. … But I think you have to get over that and just feel flattered to be picked for the role and forget about all that and do the job you were selected for.”

“We just hope that fans enjoy the first one,” added Jamie Chung, hoping all the intimidation and hard work will pay off. “Not just the die-hard fans, but hopefully it will revive a new generation of ‘Dragonball’ fans.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Dragonball Evolution.”

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