From Marine to Actor: An Interview with David Johnson Wood

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David Johnson Wood spent his teen years in Knoxville, TN, and enlisted for active duty in the Marine Corps from 1999 – 2005, attaining infantry Sergeant in his first two years and serving with SRIG (Surveillance / Reconnaissance / Intelligence Group). After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, David entered the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he studied philosophy and religious studies, graduating with his BA. In 2009, David moved to Hong Kong, where he did liaison work for three NGOs, founded several companies that he owns and runs under the banner of DJW Holdings, and still lives with his wife and children. Aside from his acting work, which includes Ghost in the Shell and the recently released Ip Man 4: The Finale, Wood is the founder of Virtus Outdoor Group, a clothing line.

WorldFilmGeek had the opportunity to interview Wood via e-mail about his career in both the entertainment and fashion industries.

David, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about some of your work and career. I understand you were in the Marine Corps for a number of years. What was your experience like?
It was the best experience that a young man can have to train him to face anything head-on, to work as a team, to constantly die to the self and become part of something greater than one can ever be alone.

Every good endeavor in my adult life has been fueled by the strength, experiences, and growth that the US MARINE CORPS instilled in me. I don’t know where I’d be today without the discipline and the brotherhood that it gave me.

How did you get your start in the entertainment industry?
I picked my wife up from a casting in Hong Kong and met a director there who asked me on the spot to be in one of his action films; I’d be playing a mercenary. That was eight years ago, and it’s been a fun side gig ever since.

You’ve got quite an impressive resume. Ghost in the Shell, Golden Job, and Vixen. What was it like working on these films?
Each film brought me new friendships and broadened my network; each was a unique experience. It’s great being able to bring my military background into these roles; it opens up doors to instruct or advise on weapons, tactics, costumes, etc.

Let’s get into it. I am a massive fan of the Ip Man film franchise, and with this final installment on the horizon, can you tell me how you got involved in the film and what was it like to be a part of this, what people are calling an “epic saga”?
I’d just wrapped up Big Brother with Donnie Yen and played a Marine in Afghanistan (where’d I’d actually been part of the initial force of OEF in late 2001-2002). Donnie asked me to work with him on some CQB movements in the firefights, and that lead to advising on that entire scene.

I was asked by one of the directors from there to read a script for my role in Ip Man 4, and I got the part that day.

It was a blast working with my Marine Brother, Chris Collins, and Donnie again. It was a blast shaving my big beard and going full Drill Instructor clean-cut Marine garrison dress, and getting to assist on the sets and my lines as well as voice-overs.

Did you get to talk to any of the film’s stars on set; like Donnie Yen or Scott Adkins?Yes, I was working with Scott Adkins every day, so we talked every day and had some laughs. He’s a lovely guy, a good husband, and a father. He celebrated his birthday there on set, he was always very professional and a hell of actor and athlete to watch doing his fighting choreography.

Tell us about your Virtus Outdoor Group line and what we can look forward to with your latest clothing line.
Virtus Outdoor Group (VOG) is my full-time work. I’ve worked with my partners since 2015, building a fully vertical company (sourcing to manufacturing, tech to licensing, videography to e-commerce). We have designed and created patented tech fabrics and patented digital camouflage that we build in-house for absolute concealment from enemy surveillance and from AI. We now design apparel for the extreme endurance athlete, the operator, the extreme outdoorsman, and we have just launched our fully functional tech fabrics in a new active lifestyle line. We see dropping new gear seasonally so you can see all of that at VOGSTORE.COM and see what projects I’m up to on IG @davidj_wood and @virtus.outdoors

This has been great! I am looking forward to seeing you in Ip Man 4, and I hope you continue to thrive in both the entertainment industry and your Virtus line.
Many thanks, Semper Fi!

A Special Thank You goes to Wendy Shepherd at Studio Matrix and David Johnson Wood for making this interview possible.

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