Guess Hu?

Watching a seated Kelly Hu deliver impassioned, sometimes raunchy takes on female s
A busy 'X-Men' star? You know Hu
Kelly Hu works on stage, screen, TV

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- Watching a seated Kelly Hu deliver impassioned, sometimes raunchy takes on female sexuality during "The Vagina Monologues" is a stark contrast to the way most people see her these days.

In the movie "X2: X-Men United," Hu's martial arts villainess Lady Deathstrike utters but one line, preferring to exercise her high-flying, razor-clawed superpowers.

In the stage production, "I don't even move off the stool," Hu says. "It's a totally different thing going on for me -- a totally different muscle to exercise -- which is the most appealing thing for me, because of the simple fact that it's exactly the opposite of what I've just done."

While she's glad to have projects such as the critically acclaimed "Monologues" at her disposal, it doesn't mean she's giving up high-energy roles. And these days, there's no shortage of roles for her to choose from.

She currently has three projects in development: a film version of the martial arts vampire comic book "Jade," an as-yet unnamed movie based on the story of a real life double agent, and a third project that's "like a Korean-American 'Bridget Jones' Diary."'

Hu's busy work schedule leaves little time for anything else, and that's OK, too. "I really enjoy my life right now," she says. "I have so many opportunities that I never had open to me before."

'This is the kind of business where it's so uncertain'

In "X2," Hu plays Lady Deathstrike, who prefers to speak with her claws.
It wasn't always like this for the 35-year-old Hu, a fourth-generation American of Chinese, Hawaiian and English descent.

The first Asian girl to be crowned Miss Teen USA, and a former Miss Hawaii USA, Hu's first show biz break came in 1985 as Kirk Cameron's girlfriend in the series "Growing Pains."

From that came one-time roles in various TV series -- from "21 Jump Street" and "Melrose Place" to the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" -- that sometimes made it easy to feel discouraged.

"I guess as an actor it's hard not to feel that way," she says. "This is the kind of business where it's so uncertain. You're only as good as your last project and you never know what's going to be coming up next."

After small parts in unspectacular movies including "Strange Days" and "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man," Hu had what she considered a fairly comfortable career with recurring roles on TV series such as "Nash Bridges" and "Martial Law."

"I was pretty satisfied doing television and I thought that I might have a television career for a little while and maybe get a couple of small roles in different films here and there," she says. "I didn't think that I'd actually be able to make film my number one source of income."

Quiet success
Then came last year's "The Scorpion King" and Hu's turn as a scantily clad, seductive sorceress opposite wrestling star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

I didn't think that I'd actually be able to make film my number one source of income.
-- Kelly Hu

She followed that up with another action role as a bad girl henchman opposite rapper DMX and martial arts specialist Jet Li in this year's "Cradle 2 the Grave."

With Lady Deathstrike and the rest of the X-Men mutants tearing up the box office, Hu can hardly believe her luck.

"It's really an honor," she said. "It's such a huge film to be a part of."

Hu's one line, delivered to a trespassing mutant disguised as a janitor: "What are you doing in here?"

After X2 came the offer for "Monologues," which was a perfect way for her to try something she hadn't done since her days at the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu. The show recently ended a five-day run at the Hawaii Theater.

"I have not performed in front of a live audience since high school," Hu said. "The fact that my friends and my family are all here is sort of comforting and a little bit nerve wracking at the same time -- I want to really do well for my hometown."
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