S'pore PR is Hollywood fight choreographer

SINGAPORE - For Jennifer Phillips, a simple stroll from one side of the street to the other was the beginning of her Hollywood career.

Phillips, now a fight choreographer for major movies like Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Thor (2011) was in New York City, near Grand Central Station, when she crossed a road, only to be yelled at by an irate director for messing up a scene.

"As I was crossing the road, I passed a man who looked like Johnny Depp, and all of a sudden, there were angry shouts all around," Phillips told FiRST.

The movie was Secret Window (2004) and yes, Depp was the star.

After being ushered out, Phillips hung around the set, chatted to a production assistant and then suddenly, she was asked to do a very short stunt scene.

And that was the push Phillips, now in her 40s, needed to get into Hollywood.

The Brit - she's a Singapore permanent resident - fight choreographer has worked in several major Hollywood productions, including X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) and Salt (2010).

She's again involved in an X-Men movie, this time the James Mangold-directed The Wolverine, which opens here today.

Said Phillips of the movie: "The fight sequences in (The Wolverine) are different from Origins as the earlier movie had more of a sci-fi direction.

She added she was floored by Jackman's great sense of humour and the Australian actor's readiness to "lend a hand to newbies or anyone who asks for help".

She added: "He always enjoys doing his own stunts and even insists on it, but I've a feeling that's going to change after The Wolverine because of the scary on-set accident." Phillips was referring to the terrifying accident where a scene required Jackman to swing out from the inside of a train.

"His neck got caught, and though he wasn't really hurt, it was a really scary moment," she said.

Phillips is in town to help out in the upcoming Miss World Singapore finals this Sunday.

"I was originally called in to help to conceptualise and direct the music video for the finals," she said, "but I ended up with a lot more on my plate, including scripting the show and becoming a guest host for the evening's festivities."

The aspiring film-maker reveals that her company, J Phillips Creative Management, has a five-picture deal with Marvel.

"We have done three movies so far and we are on the books to do X-Force (a spin-off of The X-Men comic book franchise), which is due in 2016."

"We recently completed the fight design and consultancy work for Dwayne Johnson's Hercules: The Thracian Wars, which is filming in Budapest."

Phillips, who splits her time between the US, Canada and Singapore, certainly finds satisfaction in her job.


Said the award-winning taekwondo expert: "I love film and I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else."

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