Margaret Cho Explains Why 'Face/Off' Took Almost a Year to Film & What It Was Like Making a John Woo Movie in the '90s


Cho also highlights John Travolta's unique lunch choices.

/Off isn’t just a hot topic at the moment because of that recently announced Adam Wingard remake; it’s always in the spotlight for being a wonderfully bonkers 90s action movie featuring two all-in lead performances from John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. That being said, even though Margaret Cho’s got a resume down to the floor, talking Face/Off during her episode of Collider Ladies Night was an absolute must.

Travolta steps in as Sean Archer, an FBI Special Agent who survives an attack that takes the life of his young son. After the incident, he becomes hellbent on catching his killer, Cage’s Castor Troy. Ultimately, the day does come and their encounter leaves Castor in a coma, but not before Castor reveals he’s hidden a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles. In order to figure out where that bomb is Sean is asked to undergo a face transplant so that he can pose as Castor and extract the information from his brother. Soon thereafter, Castor wakes and takes the face Sean left behind.

Cho plays Wanda in the film, an agent in Sean’s division who gets caught up in the face-swap chaos. How exactly did she score her role in the movie? Here’s how she broke it down on Collider Ladies Night:

“I got cast in the film Face/Off because of John Woo who is a hero of mine and he directed that. It was his second American feature after Broken Arrow. He was so incredible, and I had been friends with Chow Yun-fat who’s the star of many of his Hong Kong films and an iconic Chinese actor. So them along with Michelle Yeoh and I were in San Fransisco together doing a big event for Asian actors, Asian storytelling - this was in the 90s - and so I was really lucky to get to be involved in Face/Off.”

In addition to the initial casting excitement, Cho also highlighted the thrill of being part of a classic 90s action movie - a movie that incorporated real explosions instead of the effects-heavy sequences we often see in more modern films.

“What a big production! I know that the film actually takes place over a week, but it took us almost a year to shoot. It was many, many, many stunts. They actually explode a plane, and they really did. This is like 90s action filmmaking where they could actually explode a plane without CGI. This is before so many of these things were created with CGI. We had none of that. We only had planes and explosives!”

On top of that? Cho got the opportunity to participate in a training camp and had a kick-ass stunt double:

“There was a lot of going to training camps where you would learn how to properly shoot a gun, properly look like you were in the FBI. And John Woo had a lot of input on making sure that actors were comfortable with how they were physically portraying these characters. You also had a stunt double that was pretty much the physical perfection version of yourself, which is really strange. So I had a stunt double, and I think John Travolta had like five or six of them, as did Nicholas Cage.”

As for working with Travolta in particular, Cho dubbed him a “modern day king” and explained:

“There’s not really American monarchy, but there is in Hollywood if you think about it, and he’s sort of in the last era of the golden age of Hollywood. He’s sort of the last movie star in a lot of ways. And so he had this sort of court around him of different people that he had worked with, his particular crew, whether they were his stand-ins or his stunt doubles or his crew that he would bring from movie to movie. So you would see sort of the skeletal remnants of different films he had done over the years, so that was really interesting. He was a really jovial guy, really fun."

To top it all off, Cho got to witness Travolta perform quite the feat - and it had absolutely nothing to do with the movie itself. Here’s how she put it:

"We had lunch one time in his trailer, he and I, and he ate an entire nine-inch boysenberry pie with a fork. No plates, no knives.”

There are plenty more stories from where this came from! If you’re looking for more from Cho on her rise in the industry, her experience working on some of the hottest reality shows out there, her brand new FX documentary Hysterical and more, check out Cho's full episode of Collider Ladies Night below: