Constance Wu Says Fresh Off The Boat Trained Her For The Terminal List With A Very Specific Skill

Chris Pratt’s new Amazon Prime show, The Terminal List, is (in part) an action-packed conspiracy thriller that pushed him to his limits as a performer. With any good attempt to foil a shadowy plot concealed behind closed doors, there’s naturally going to be a procedural element to such an undertaking. And that’s where J.D. Pardo and Constance Wu’s characters come into play, along with their own unique set of skills. 

During one of their scenes together, Pardo was blown away by Wu’s ability to learn a huge change in dialogue so quickly. Responding in kind, Wu credited her time on Fresh Off the Boat as giving her the skills to pull off that very feat. Put together, those comments give viewers of this action-mystery show even more of an appreciation for what went into its very making. 

Speaking with both Pardo and Wu during their press rounds for The Terminal List, I asked them a question about nailing the realism of their roles, which were adapted from author Jack Carr’s suspense novel. When it came to the answer to that query, JD Pardo took time to share a story about how Constance Wu blew him away with her ability to roll with the dialogue driven punches. Here’s how that exchange played out, as Pardo and Wu spoke with CinemaBlend:  

"JD Pardo: I remember we were doing this scene, and I think they switched lines with you. Like right on the day, they gave you this whole other page that you had to do. And in my head I’m thinking like, ‘Oh, this might take a bit.’ I don’t know how anyone does that.

Constance Wu: Nah. Just do it.

Pardo: She did one take and then she’s like ‘Ok, let’s do it again.’ We went right back into it. She did this whole new page that day, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a pro. That’s how pros work.’ 

Wu: I mean, also working for like 120 episodes of network television. … When I was on Fresh Off The Boat, they were always throwing you new stuff. It’s just a muscle, you just get so used to it."

“Nah. Just do it.” That’s an attitude that, while sounding simple, is something that definitely fits into J.D. Pardo’s description of “pro behavior.” While playing on the more procedural side of The Terminal List, the characters of journalist/whistleblower Katie Buranek and FBI special agent Tony Layun are both figures as important as Chris Pratt’s James Reece. 

Throughout the eight episodes that make up the first season, it’s these three people who spearhead the actions designed to expose the significant plot sitting at the heart of the series. It’s the sort of thing that fans of shows like NCIS get to see on a weekly basis, only expanded into deadlier and more serious territory that feels like it overlaps with Jason Bourne’s exploits. You can see as much when you watch the trailer for the Prime Video series, which is included below:

That means experienced TV actors like Constance Wu are going to be expected to remember jargon and details to the complex mystery that’s unfolding. Then again, Wu and co-star J.D. Pardo are both experienced in this sort of behavior, as Pardo is also known for his central role as Ezekiel "EZ" Reyes on FX’s Mayans M.C.

Dedication is something that’s at the very heart of this passion project, particularly in the story of how Chris Pratt discovered Jack Carr’s book in the first place. Stories told by the entire cast and crew of The Terminal List on this press day confirmed as much, as everyone had their own piece of realism to nail down in the cohesive whole that makes up showrunner David DiGilio and executive producer Antoine Fuqua’s jobs.

What results is an intriguing dynamic between Katie and Tony that forms a piece of why the newly released series is such a compelling watch. As both actors continued to talk up their relationship as co-stars, Constance Wu and J.D. Pardo acknowledged that the mutual level of commitment only made their scenes together feel less like acting and more like natural interactions.

Another component that distinguishes successful procedural/conspiracy thrillers from those that are mere imitations, The Terminal List’s obsession with realism turns the efforts of its expert cast and crew into a series that’s hard not to outright binge. Should the remaining books be adapted into potential future seasons, those relationships are only going to grow stronger. 

With that in mind, Constance Wu (who would surely continue to draw from her work on Fresh Off the Boat) and J.D. Pardo’s interactions in particular have a potential to hit off the charts levels of intensity. Provided, of course, their characters survive the insidious machine they’re trying to dismantle. To find out the answer to that question, and many others, you’ll have to watch the show. As such, the action and investigations of The Terminal List await Amazon Prime subscribers, as the entire first season is currently available for streaming on that very platform. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.