Interview: Pitch Perfect 3 star Hana Mae Lee on working with Ruby Rose, DJ Khaled & the art of kissing with Starburst Wrappers

Pitch Perfect had such a great reception when it was first released in December of 2012, it has now spawned a triliogy. But perhaps it’s of little surprise; it was such a fun concept that bought some great stars like Anna Kendrick to the forefront and showed us a slightly different take on the musical genre (remember Cups?). It took what was usually a drama-centric category and punched it in the face with some upbeat musical Capella standoffs and mostly cringe-worthy, but hilarious comedy. Much of this comedy came from the likes of Hana Mae Lee’s extremely shy but aggressively eccentric character of Lily… and of course the Aussie fan-hit “Fat Amy” played by Rebel Wilson.

Moving into Pitch Perfect 3 (possibly the last of the series), things get a little heated and a lot more personal. All the original characters come together and most of them seem to get a nice send-off. Having a talk with Hana Mae Lee before the late April home release of Pitch Perfect 3, we chatted about the evolution with her character of Lily, what it’s really like hanging out with the cast of Pitch Perfect and what’s coming up next for the bright star, now that the Bella’s seem to have finished their rounds!

David: You came back for a third time to hang with the Bella’s, so hanging around Rebel and Anna Kendrick and the rest of the crew can’t be as bad as they say?

Hana: (Jokingly) Wait, what do they say, what are the bad things they say? Maybe we’ll have to rewind a little bit?

David: No, nobody said anything bad, I’m just stirring the pot. Getting back with the entire crew looks like an absolute blast. Is it as fun as they make it look?

Hana: We’re all good actors. So, we’re selling the dream. Selling the dream David.

But, no, it is fun! There’s a lot of different improvs. Every day’s a new day when we’re shooting and it’s a blast. We have a lot of different personalities on set, so a lot of different surprises, we just kind of stir things up just for fun. It’s been a very fun six years. We have a lot of music, a lot of chorography with the same people, with all the Bella’s and then we always get a handful of really great actors that come in for each movie. I always get really excited about all the other actors that are coming because they’re always such polar opposites from the Bella’s. So yeah, you know what, it is fun!

David: Who was the one person you had the most fun meeting in Pitch Perfect 3?

Hana: I really loved meeting Ruby Rose. I was a fan of Orange is the New Black. It was really great to see her. When they cast her in Orange is the New Black, I was like, “oh my gosh, finally a really gorgeous person on TV.” So, it was super great to see her and have her in the movie and she’s so cool and super nice and charming and gorgeous and perfect in the movie. It’s just a really nice addition and it was really fun to see her and also her group Evermoist, we had Andy Allo who was a guitarist for Prince. So that was fricken cool!

He was Prince’s protege so that was cool. Meeting DJ Khaled was cool. I know you said one person, but a lot of people were (fun to meet) there’s some fun people. Meeting the Troops that was really interesting too, ’cause a lot of times we just meet actors. To meet somebody that was really involved in the USO and being on the base and seeing all the Blackhawks and everything, was pretty crazy.

Did you have any input into your shy and quiet (well at least at first), character of Lily and the now famous first words in Pitch Perfect 3?

Yeah, she was always meant to be quiet, speak quietly, but I had them put in just how I portrayed her, so I wanted to make her really innocent. Me and the costumer Salvador Perez, from the films, We’ve always talked about how she would dress, how she would not show skin because it’s too sexy to show. We make sure that if it’s kooky, it still always matches her clothes and as far as the lines go, there’s definitely at least six improv lines for every line that gets put in for all of Lily’s lines.

The first movie they have it in the gag reel, I think it’s called Aca-Line-O-Rama and there’s an Aca-Line-O-Rama inappropriate version as well and I have two different improvs I did after the “I Set Fires to feel Joy” line, In the second movie, you see the penny under my tongue. There’s all these little things I like to add. Like movement slides in the face. That one I did that tongue movement. That was trained in boredom in junior high and high school. Definitely the fish lips moving was in there. I always try to bring a little bit extra for Lily, because she’s such a funny character you know?

How tasty was the Starburst wrapper and was that the first take or were many Starburst wrappers harmed in the making of the film?

Huh? Oh okay, okay, okay, okay, okay THE Starburst wrapper? Okay! So do you know if you can undo the Starburst wrapper it means you’re a good kisser? Is that something big in Australia?

I’m not sure. I’ve been married too long to even think about that move.

You can’t use your teeth. It was written in the script that I’d take a cupcake and it has an American flag on it, but on a toothpick and I eat the whole toothpick and the flag and that was part of the script. I was like, “Well that’s kind of a choking hazard.” That’s a choking hazard and it’s kind of a love interest with DJ Looney who plays DJ Dragon Nutz and I was like, it should be kind of flirtatious, so the Starburst, unravelling it with my mouth shows him that I’m a good kisser. So that got in. I was like, “Can we put that in there? Can we put that in there?”

They were like, “Sure.” So, it didn’t take me too long and I didn’t use the same wrapper to make sure the scene was cut. I wanted it to be pretty authentic. I think we did four takes and then it got in the movie.

I have to ask what everyone is wondering. Any news on Pitch Perfect 4? Or was that the definitive Aca-Final?

Oh, man. Aca-Final, David I wish I had the answer. I think it was the Aca-Final trilogy. If there is a fourth, you will know as soon as I know. I think all the girls are always down to do as many as they come, just because the scenarios can be so different for Acapella and we have such a great time filming it and we have great people that work behind the scene as well and the music and the choreography and all that, so we’ll see.

One more question for you. Other than the devilishly fun, The Babysitter film, which was, which I loved, what’s Hana been up to since finishing Pitch Perfect 3? What have you got coming up for us?

I have another movie that came out in December called Love Beats Rhymes, that’s out on Netflix as well. It’s about rap and Azealia Banks is the lead in it and I play her best friend in the movie. It’s about rap and poetry. That’s out on DVD and Netflix and Unleashed is out on Netflix and DVD as well I believe. Now in the horizon I’m working on producing and writing and staring in a couple of episodic TV shows that I’ve been working on for the past couple of years and just haven’t been able to fully pursue that ’cause of all the different films I had to do last year.

Pitch Perfect 3 hits home release in Australia on Blu-Ray & DVD on April 20th 2018, and is available NOW on Digital!