BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Élodie Yung connected immediately with the character she would be playing in the new drama, “The Cleaning Lady.” The series is scheduled to launch at 9 p.m. Jan. 3 on FOX following the third season opener of “911: Lone Star.”
Yung is an actor and the character, Thony, is a super competent Cambodian doctor. It was her background that hit home for Yung.
“My dad came from another country and had to make his own place in France, so I could very much relate to that,” Yung says. “I was so glad that I could be seen for the first time for really who I am as a whole person with this my origins, my background, and also, just what I could bring as an actor.”
Another connection for Yung was that her character is a mother who will do whatever it takes to protect her child. Because Young is a mother herself, she completely understood the fierce protective nature of the woman.
Yung loved that the character showed such a tremendous amount of resilience. Even when she gets pushed into extreme situations, Thony never stops fighting.
What sets up this immigrant mother and her son being put in danger starts with Thony traveling to the U.S. for a medical treatment to save her ailing son Luca (Valentino and Sebastien LaSalle). With her son diagnosed with a life-threatening immunodeficiency disorder and her husband, Marco (Ivan Shaw), struggling with a gambling addiction and unable to get a visa, Thony is left to save the boy on her own.
She moves to Las Vegas to live with her sister-in-law while waiting for a matching bone marrow donor for Luca. She ends up becoming a “cleaning lady” for a criminal operation. That means cleaning crime scenes and dodging the law.
Yung was certain the best way to give her character a layer of authenticity was to learn how to speak like her. It was the one aspect of playing the role she knew she had to perfect.
“I really wanted to embody Thony the way I saw her, which was that she’s a Cambodian immigrant coming from the Philippines to America. I grew up with my dad, who is Cambodian, but we grew up in France,” Yung says. “So, even though he has a very thick, strong Cambodian accent I could mimic him in my own language.
“So, the consonants and the vowels are very different in an English language, so it was constant work for me to really nail the accent because you can hear the way I speak is very far from Thony.”
The reason she had to learn how the character would speak despite having a father who is of Chinese-Cambodian, Yung was born in Paris to a mother who is of French and Italian descent.
There may be a bigger problem for Yung than just getting the accent correct. She laughingly admits without hesitation that she really doesn’t know how to clean.
Her lack of cleaning skills can be traced to her earning a law degree in France before enrolling at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She spent more time studying than cleaning.
Her first acting jobs were on France as she appeared in the serial drama “La Vie Devant Nous” and then in the French series “Les Bleus.” Eventually she left France to come to America where she was cast to play Elektra Natchios in the Marvel Comics streaming series “Daredevil.” She reprised the role of Elektra in the streaming series “The Defenders” before starring in the feature film “The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Other credits include “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Gods of Egypt” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
Yung is quick to point out that she left France to move to England because she felt like she had reached an acting plateau. It wasn’t long before she left England to move to the United States.
“I ended up here because everything was coming my way from America because I think there was something that I don’t know. In France, it’s a lot of networking, which I’m not really great at,” Yung says. “And here, in America, I felt that they would give the chance to anybody who just had to offer a piece of work. They just wanted to see what you could give.
“And so, coming here to America, I had access to a lot of castings. And casting directors would be just curious to see who I was, and they liked my work, and they would call me back. So, I had been able to just showcase my craft here in America, which has been more limited, unfortunately, in my own country.”
Any return to England or France will have to wait to see if “The Cleaning Lady” turns out to be a hit for FOX.