North Shore native Alice Lee laughed when asked about her proficiency in Chinese — as showcased by her character Gina in the new horror adventure film “Wish Upon” (opening Friday).
“My Chinese is not very good, but for a good reason — since I’m Korean,” said the young actress. “But that’s OK. It happens a lot in Hollywood. The point is, I got cast and I’m able to project myself as Chinese. For this film, I was taught the phrases I needed and learned how to say them phonetically.”
In the film, she plays the cousin of Ki Hong Lee’s character, Ryan. He is the good friend of the film’s main star, Joey King, who is gifted with a mysterious music box inscribed with a Chinese phrase promising to grant the owner’s wishes. The twist: For every wish granted, someone one close to King’s Clare character has to die a horrible death.
“I think the underlying message of this film — besides it being a good horror thriller — is ‘be careful what you wish for!’ ” said Lee with a sly chuckle.
When the actress returns to the Chicago area, she “usually just spends time hanging with my family or going shopping at the mall with my mom. But this last time, a couple of weeks ago, I really got lucky. I got to both see my family — and got to work!”
Lee was cast in an episode of “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams,” the sci-fi anthology series being filmed in Chicago and produced by Bryan Cranston. “I’m a guest star in the episode. It’s about a futuristic society that’s all about conforming. I play not exactly a rebel, but definitely one of the outsiders.”
The actress has “awesome, great memories” of growing up in Glenview. “I went to Glenbrook South and that’s where I really fell in love with theater and musical theater in particular. I was in the a capella group and sang in the choir and did a bunch of musicals in high school. I was lucky, because Glenbrook had such a wonderful, really strong arts program. It gave me a great foundation.”
Getting back to “Wish Upon,” Lee said if that magical music box was “for real, I would be very careful with my wishes, for obvious reasons. As for wishes in general, mine would be kind of cheesy. I’d wish for the health of my family, to keep doing what I love and simply to have a happy life. I know that’s real general and not very original, but I think it’s what most people wish for, don’t you think?”