“Martial arts keep me grounded, providing me with the discipline I need to become a successful actor and human being.” – Morgan Benoit.
Recently Ecuador Times had the opportunity to interview Morgan Benoit and talk about his upcoming film BRUTAL, which was written and directed by indie-film maker Donald L. Flaherty. The story is a mixed martial arts tale that involves an outer space arena and the human aspect of average people who are submerged in a deadly fighting tournament.
Morgan Benoit, portrays Trevor the main protagonist of the film, the actor started training martial arts since he was 9 years old, but Morgan’s real training began at 15 when he changed from studying Tae Kwon Do to Northern Shaolin at the Vermont Kung Fu Academy in 1995. “Something about Shaolin struck something deep inside me. I took it right away.” Morgan became interested in the philosophy and history behind the martial art, Benoit sees the martial arts as a pathway to understanding and knowing himself.
Chang Quan is a style of martial art that was developed after 1949 by the Chinese government. Long fist is a very acrobatic and dynamic martial art which combines elements of several northern Chinese Styles and Peking Opera. “It is an extremely difficult martial art to master, but provides an excellent foundation for screen fighting,” says Morgan. In 1999, the actor moved to China and started training Long Fist at the Shi Cha Hai Sports School (the training grounds of Jet Li).
In order to start working on his dream, Morgan knew he had to start in China and Hong Kong, since they have always been at the forefront of martial arts cinema. “I understood that the only way I could take my training to the next level and gain experience with some of the best stunt coordinators and action directors in the world was to move to China.”
Morgan shared the screen with his idol Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), here’s what he had to say, “I had a scene with my idol and I was so nervous I would forget my lines or mess up in some other way, but Jackie was cool on set, he had his old man makeup on and immediately put me at ease by being in character and acting like an arthritic old man but then jumping up and throwing some playful kicks at me. After our scene Jackie moved me into the wing of the hotel he was staying in with his stunt team. I trained with them, ate with them and we played badminton almost every day. On one occasion it was incredibly hot and I was playing a round of badminton with Jackie. After we were all sweaty Jackie threw me a Jackie Chan t-shirt and a set of new underwear. I still wear the underwear anytime I have a big audition, for good luck!”
After being in China for 10 years, Morgan established himself as an action actor, however he wanted to expand his career and hence decided to move to Los Angeles in 2008. It was a difficult choice and a
tough move since Benoit arrived during the writers-strike so it was almost impossible to get an agent, manager or find work as an actor. One thing that he learned from martial arts is to persevere and so Morgan did, he stayed in America, build up a network and found a good manager. Soon Morgan started his path to success in Hollywood.
Finally Morgan talked about his newest film, BRUTAL which is a movie that explores human nature that has a story of hope and compassion in most desolate and desperate circumstances. For the actor it has some brutal and exciting fight scenes he has ever seen. “It’s a great action movie with a beautiful story and I am very proud to have been a part of this amazing film.” ( AV )