Interview To the Actor Robert Lin

By Kalent Zaiz

KZ: How did you become an actor?

RL. Heavily influenced by my art-loving mother, I grew up by doing school productions and Peking Opera shows in Beijing. Although majoring in Journalism in college, I’ve never given up my passion for acting so later I went to study with Professor Richard Schechner in NYU’s Tisch School of the Art. And after graduation with a master’s degree, I started doing theaters in NYC, followed by films and TV works.

KZ: Do you think actors should take other jobs to make ends meet while building their career?

RL. It depends on different individuals. I started by doing acting part-time, and still kept a side job while I was working on “Kundun”. Then later I moved to become a full-time professional.

KZ: Please tell me about your personal life. What are you doing in your time off from acting?

RL, Now I split my time between East and West, and have been busy with different projects set up in different parts of the world. So I travel a lot, which I enjoy very much. And I like to meet new people, and always research on something, and take a lot of photos anywhere I go. Finally, I have to say, I love to watch movies more than anything else!

KZ: What is your goal in the entertainment industry?

RL. Hope to work with more great people and have opportunities to create some characters that will hopefully be memorable. I do believe that I have some takes in terms of doing a couple of those historical figures so I will strike forward to make new movies based on them. Being creative and imaginative is always the joy of my life, and it will be continuously so in a foreseeable future.

KZ: Who is Robert Lin? Please describe yourself.

Actor Robert Lin

RL. I am a Chinese-American actor/writer/producer based in New York and Beijing. Born and raised in China, my 20+ year living experience in US has given me a distinctive view on different cultures and histories, which has further helped me in terms of creating authentic characters from diverse background. With a great passion about acting and other creative things, I possess a friendly, intelligent and gentle soul.

KZ: What does it mean to you having been one of the actors in a Martin Scorsese movie?

RL. It was an amazing experience, considering that was my first major movie in US. It would definitely have helped to launch my career as an actor. A lifetime opportunity for me, no doubt about it.

KZ:Please describe your role in Kundun”.

RL. I played Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong, 1893-1976) in the film, who was the supreme leader of China’s communist revolution and generally considered one of the most influential, if not most controversial, political figures from the 20th century. The scene took place between him and the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan spiritual leader visited Beijing in 1954. Based on this unique experience and intensive research, I have carried on my portrayal of Mao, now in a new play entitled “A Night with Mao” which I conceived, wrote and starred in.

KZ: What is “Kundun” about? In relation to your culture how have you identified with the story?

RL. “Kundun” is an epic biographical movie about the life of the 14th Dalai Lama, a widely respected Tibetan religious and spiritual leader. I grew up in a controversy over the Tibet-China relations and have witnessed the declining of all religions under the forceful rule of China’s Communist government. I felt fortunate enough to be part of a story told from the Tibetan point of view and have a chance to create a historical figure that was based on facts instead of the usual glorified image people see in Chinese films.

KZ: Please tell me about “School of Rock. What type of role did you play?

RL. Again I was lucky enough to be able to work with Richard Linklater (of “Boyhood” fame) on this incredibly successful comedy. I played an overprotective Chinese father to a son whose talent was discovered by none other than Jack Black!


ROBERT LIN is a Chinese-American actor/writer/filmmaker based in New York and Beijing. His major film acting credits include the starring role as Chairman Mao in Martin Scorsese directed Tibetan epic Kundun, which were nominated for four Academy Awards. He was also featured in 2003’s smash hit School of Rock (Paramount Pictures) with Jack Black, and appeared in Red Corner (MGM) with Richard Gere. Other film credits include Green Card Fever, Man of the Century, Lift to Hell, The Nightingale of Tibet, Iceberg and last year’s Front Cover, an American comedy.
Coming off from a solid theater background, Robert’s New York stage credits include a widely acclaimed performance in Ishmael Reed’s The Preacher & Rapper at Nuyorican Poets Café, Zhang Boils the Ocean at Rockefeller Center’s Taipei Theater, and Tadpoletigermosquitos at Mulligan’s in Soho’s Ohio Theater, to name a few. In July, 2014, Robert has premiered A Night with MAO in Kathmandu, Nepal, a new play which he starred in as well as conceived and wrote. His performance has won both audience support and critical acclaims.
Having studied acting and directing with Professor Richard Schechner and Ms. Sande Shurin, both are leading figures in American theater education and actor training program, Mr. Lin has been sharing his professional knowledge in many different settings. Besides training actors for Chinese film productions, he has offered intensive training programs for both Indian and Sri Lankan actors, as well as conducted successful acting workshops recently in the film college of Nepal.
Mr. Lin is a member of SAG/AFTRA, and represented by agents both in New York and Beijing. He holds a master degree in performing art from New York University.


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