Rosalind Chao, Zine Tseng and Jess Hong Talk ‘3 Body Problem’

Premiered on March 21, 2024, Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” is created by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo. Inspired by its namesake novel, a science fiction narrative written by Cixin Liu, the plot extends across time as astrophysicist Ye Wenjie makes contact with an alien planet under the instruction of the military. Her decision has long-lasting implications that threaten to affect scientists, and more particularly, Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and the rest of the Oxford Five, in the modern-day. Ye Wenjie’s character is played by both Zine Tseng and Rosalind Chao, with Tseng portraying Ye’s younger self and Chao her present-day one. 

Ye’s story starts in Beijing 1966, after she witnesses the death of her father. With the onset of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Ye experiences firsthand the cruelty of mankind, and as such, is fueled to do what she must to save the fate of the world. 

Sitting side-by-side, in complementary shades of blue, Tseng and Chao prove the efficacy of casting. Together, they discuss the intricacies of portraying the same character. They acted with shared physicalities such as walks and gestures, and though Tseng’s last day on set was Chao’s first, the two can’t help but show their respect for one another. “Her strength in playing Ye was quite inspiring,” Chao said about Tseng. “I got to watch how she moves, how she interacts. I could teach a course on Zine as Ye.” 

Hong’s character, in contrast, exists only in one timeline. Jin is a New Zealand-born physicist, who conducts research at Imperial College London. She studies particle accelerators, and when they all start generating data that makes no sense, she is forced to switch gears and pour herself into work on a VR game. Because when Jin is not engrossed in a project, she loses her sense of self. 

Smiling and excited, Hong responds to questions about Jin with a lightness, joking about Jin’s overeager ambition to solve every problem in the universe. As a member of the Oxford Five, a group of young scientists trying to figure out why experiments everywhere are failing, Jin spends ample time with Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), Jack Rooney (John Bradley), Auggie Salazar (Eiza González), and Will Downing (Alex Sharp). Off-screen, Hong notes that they are an “eclectic bunch,” who hail from various parts of the world. “We’re all quite different people, but we all like to have a laugh…[I] absolutely loved working with everybody. I feel so privileged to have been a part of this group,” Hong said. 

Check out Character Media’s video above to hear more about Tseng, Chao and Hong’s experience working on “3 Body Problem.” And don’t forget to watch the series, out now on Netflix!