Harry Shum Jr finds magic in Shadowhunters

by - 15:15


The demands of playing the mystical Magnus Bane on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments are far less for Harry Shum Jr than his days on Glee.

Instead of having to worry about all of the singing and dancing that went along with playing high school student Mike Chang, now he just deals with the special effects needed for him to play the High Warlock of Brooklyn.

The long work schedules of Glee didn’t bother Shum too much because of his dance background.

“I saw a lot of my co-stars go into the show thinking it was a crazy work schedule. I had done it before as a dancer because they are always worked to the bone and are considered only one step above an extra,” Shum says.

Unlike Glee, Shum had some background to help him put together how he was going to play the character in Shadowhunters. The series is based on a series of books by Cassandra Clare. Before starting work on the series, Shum read other parts of the book series.

He wasn’t worried that the books would affect his performance.

“When you read a book you can only retain so much,” Shum says. “For me, reading the books as preparation, was just a way of really getting an understanding of who this guy was. For me it was pulling in the essence of the character.

“From there, then you go into what is written in the script.”

His character of Magnus Band is an 800-year-old warlock who doesn’t look his age. He becomes an ally to the Shadowhunters and the central heroine, Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara).

At times, Shum plays the character as a man who has seen centuries of life. At other times, he portrays him as acting much younger than he really is.

“There is a time and place for both. He’s a very wise character. He’s met individuals that we have only read about in history books. At the same time, I think there is a sense of boredom that comes with everyday life,” Shum says.

“For him it is a matter of trying to manipulate the situations to give him some kind of refreshing outlook on life.

“We look at being immortal as something that everyone wants. But, there is a burden to that. You live as long as this guy has, you become a little cynical.”

Movement is very important to Shum as he was a dancer long before becoming an actor. By the time he was showing off his dance skills on Glee, Shum had been a dancer with Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey.

Shum uses his background in dance to give the way his character moves a real purpose. He says he wants every step that Magnus takes to be like he’s walking on a red carpet and there’s a purpose to why he’s moving. – The Fresno Bee/Tribune News Service

Shadowhunters is available on Netflix. Shum also appears on the Netflix movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny.


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