Eddie Liu Says to Expect a Different Henry on ‘Kung Fu’

Eddie Liu appreciates the love and support that his character Henry receives on his show, Kung Fu, especially after the events of last season when Henry decided to leave San Francisco — and Nicky (Olivia Liang) — to figure out his father’s secret. Liu knows how heartbroken and scared fans were of not knowing what would happen to Henry in the next season.

“I’m really grateful to see that people haven’t just forgotten about Henry and have not forgotten about Hicky (the ship name for Henry and Nicky),” Liu tells The Nerds of Color. “I feel the love and appreciate it.”

Fortunately, Henry is alive and well this season as he continues to search for the magical compass his father had told him about. It also doesn’t take long for Henry and Nicky to reunite as Nicky believes he is in trouble and finds her way to him in Thailand. Together, they find out Henry is the key to the magic behind the compass and is forced to activate “Genesis” when Nicky’s life is threatened, causing the energy of the compass to painfully flow through him. The episode ended there, causing fans to panic over their beloved Henry. 

Not wanting the fans to worry, Liu revealed Henry is completely fine, but they will see a different Henry emerging from his Genesis, “It’s a new Henry that no one [will] see coming,” said Liu. “I think what was so exciting about telling the story was that, in order for Henry to understand what was ahead of him, he had to go back into his past little by little to uncover the truth. And we see how much his past defines where he’s going to go, which we are going to find out in the next few episodes to come — in a lot of big ways.”

We chat more about Henry’s journey within those four months, his newfound power, his relationship with Nicky, and his place in the Schooby gang when he returns home. 

The Nerds of Color: Alright, Eddie. I need to know what’s going on?! What is his mindset going into this season? We left him lost and wanting to find himself and it seems like he’s still a bit lost. 

Liu: Henry is literally all over the place, trying to complete his father’s mission. He’s still very much finding himself – beyond just the existential way, but in a very visceral, very real way. There’s no way he can sit back and let this [situation] pass. He has to dig in and find out who he is.

It’s only been four months — how much has Henry changed within the four months and how has that made him stronger mentally, emotionally and physically?

In a lot of ways, [it] has made Henry stronger, tougher, and harder. He’s definitely matured and grown into his own and become more of his own person. And, at the same time, as we’ve seen in this episode, a huge part of that reason for him to come back home [and back] to Nicky and, in a way, where it all began. But he needed to go through that change first.

Kung Fu — “Shifu” — Pictured: Eddie Liu as Henry Yan — Photo: Justine Yeung/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Now that he has gotten a little bit of an inkling about who he is and what he represents, does he have a different perspective or outlook on his father and their relationship?

Yeah. I was so excited when I found out where we were going with Henry’s story and backstory. Because we left Henry’s arc in such a tragic way. Henry had so many just negative feelings about his relationship with his father for most of his life. He thought he had this absent, crappy father who just wasn’t around and didn’t care. But the bittersweet truth of that was that his father loved him very much and really did his best to protect his son. So, of course, when his dying father’s last words revealed that truth. It’s a whirlwind for Henry even when he finds out what it all means.

We spoke last season about Henry’s relationship with his dad and we got a bit on his mom in this episode – when she’s arguing with his dad. Are we going to touch on his relationship with his mother and find out who she is? Is it still Zhilan?

I don’t want to burst that bubble [for fans who think Zhilan is my mother]. But no, I think where the story is focused on this year is really about what the compass means. I honestly don’t know how far or how fast we can get into the rest of Henry’s family. We’re going to find out a lot more about what the compass and what that means to Henry and to the greater Kung Fu universe.

The crazy thing that kinda drove a wedge between Nicky and Henry is that she never asked for help and was always doing things on her own… Do you get a sense of irony that Henry is doing the same thing?

Absolutely. On the one hand, if there’s anyone who could understand why Henry had to run away across the world to find himself, it would be Nicky. Of course, that doesn’t make it hurt any less for them, especially Nicky when he breaks up with her unexpectedly. At the end of season two, [Henry] just saw his father die trying to save him and the world and drops his truth bomb about Henry’s true identity. So I don’t think Henry’s state of mind was quite at its fullest and clearest, given what he had just gone through that whole day. So I can kind of empathize with the fact that these people, even though they’re our heroes and we love to see them do the right thing all the time, they’re still human and they still have to go through these very raw emotions. It just takes time to process that out. Sometimes people just find their way on their own time and we see that with Henry, in this episode, when he reveals to Nicky, while it was necessary, he needed to see this through in order to see what was right in front of him. 

So, there have been some theories floating around. The pendant that Pei-Ling wore when she crossed over may have something to do with the compass you’re looking for. Will we see any interaction between the resurrected powerful Xiao/Pei-Ling and the Genesis Henry?

I can’t give too much away. Let’s just say that the compass is going to come into play in the Xiao storyline and the pendant as we’ve seen so far.

I’m going to be honest. Four months is NOT a long time. For people to be the love of your life, four months is really sad. Also, grief over the loss of a loved one — Henry’s dad — is ongoing and four months also seems like a short period for adventure. Obviously, Henry has not forgotten about Nicky, but Nicky has moved on. What’s your thoughts on Henry’s grief and loss of the love of his life?

Henry doesn’t even know about Nicky moving on. When he does find out, it’s gonna hurt a lot. On the one hand, Henry is in this world [where] FaceTime does exist. [He] could have dropped the line somewhere to be like, ‘Hey, I’m okay.’ But what Henry says in the episode is that he didn’t want to jeopardize her. For the first time in his life, he wanted to really make his own decision about something and follow through with it on his own. And because he loves Nicky so much and truly respects her. She operates out of a place of knowing who she is and having a clear sense of what is right. And when you’re with someone you love that much and you work together in such a close and dangerous way with the missions, he can’t help but feel like he needs to achieve that for himself in order to feel like he deserves her because he’s never had that feeling.

Obviously, we know the fans — especially the Hicky fans —  have been anticipating this reunion for sometime. So many fans are still feeling the heartbreak. How was it for you to see the couple people rooted for moving on? How have you been feeling from the fans’ reaction?

Personally, as a viewer, I actually don’t really have much judgment for Nicky moving on within four months. We’re human. We can’t 100% solely operate out of what is right and what is wrong all the time. Sometimes we’re just doing things because it hurts less or helps us feel less devastated. I can’t judge you for that. I can tell you I have some family and some friends who were severely disappointed in Nicky and I had to remind them she’s human. Yes, she’s a superhero, but she’s human too.

How is Henry going to deal with Bo now that he knows Nicky has moved on?

Henry is going to react the way we know Henry [is going to react]. He’s going to be cool about it but, under the surface, he’s going to be hurting. I think this is going to be the first time where Henry might not want to show up and put on a nice guy act. In fact, he might not want to stick around and be too close to Nicky after this. He is going to have to take some time to be in his feelings about it. It’s just not gonna feel good. Yeah, he did it to himself. He could have done more to protect the relationship but you’ll see the reasons why. 

Well, Bob said that Hicky evolves into something deeper beyond a relationship. What can you tell me about what he said?

Yeah. When we were discussing how we were going to approach this, the new dynamic of this ex relationship going into season 3. As we laid down the brick work for where both Nicky and Henry were going to go in their story arcs, [we realized that] in order to deepen their relationship together, we had to break them apart. We had to see them grow. We had to see them fall and get knocked down physically and emotionally, so that when they rise. Whether they come back together or not, you can see that this dynamic transcends friendship. It transcends romantic partners. It transcends action team partners who are actually superhero teammates. And it’s going to supersede all those things and you can only do that by tearing something down a little bit in order to [become] stronger.

So, I’ve always had this weird feeling of the friendship between Evan and Henry — how bros they became. What’s the trio energy between Henry, Nicky, and Bo?

I think once Henry gets past all of his feelings about Nicky moving on and all the feelings you could have about your ex’s new person, they would come to a mutual respect. But there’s gonna be some obstacles in the way of that, for sure. You’ll see that happen. You’ll see that come to fruition.

Kung Fu — “The Compass” — Pictured: Eddie Liu as Henry Yan — Photo: The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Will we see Eddie kind of move on as well?

Yeah, I think so. You’re gonna see Henry be in his feels — mourn the loss of that relationship and see how he copes with that. There’s a lot of story to explore in Kung Fu. Henry’s love life, in and of itself, is something that he can’t spend too much time worrying about. Henry’s gonna have to toss that aside for what’s to come.

So, you’re telling me Henry gets a “ho” phase?

I don’t know. I can’t speak to it. Well, that’s definitely far beyond my pay grade and my job description.

So what can we see next for Henry for the rest of the season?

You’re gonna see a lot of compass. We’re gonna find out what the compass means to me and to the Shoobys. It’s gonna bring a lot of people together in a cool way.

Henry with superpowers?

Something like that.

Kung Fu airs every Wednesday at 9pm on The CW.