Here’s an article about Lee from around the time of The Big Boss. Source: “Words of the Dragon: Interviews, 1957-1973,” edited by John Little:
The Man With a Stomach Like a Brick Wall
By John Hardie (The Hong Kong Star, November 1971)
If you were to call Mr. Bruce Lee a pink - and for a self-confessed punk, why not? - he probably would turn the other cheek and smile. Admittedly, such a stringent insult applied to the average high-polished fool would enable the victim and his lawyer to retire happily on the proceeds.
But Bruce Lee, the first Oriental to make the Hollywood big time, can cop a fair amount of abuse. Yet touch this deceptively light man of 30 whose muscles ripple beneath a floral shirt and - POW! “I have a sure-fire temper, man,” he said in an accent to unmistakably American to be phoney. “I cannot bear anyone to touch me. Feel this,” he said, a finger gesturing towards his taut midriff. Dismissing the preceding statement, I moved with trepidation and thumped. I could have been hitting a brick wall.
Bruce Lee smiled, dropped to the floor and began a series of push-ups - on one finger! “Someone once asked me,” he said, “what I am going to do when I am 50 or 60. I replied, ‘Man, there ain’t going to be no 50 or 60-year-old that can push me around.”
How did this meanest fighter around keep fit? “Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I work on my legs,” he said. “Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I work on my punch. On Wednesdays and Sundays, I have sparring sessions.”
How did he fancy himself in the ring against Cassius Clay? Said Mr. Lee: “If you put on a glove, you are dealing in rules. You must know the rules to survive. But in the street you have more tools in your favor - the kick, the throw, the punch.”
For a man who has trained three world karate champions, and Steve McQueen and other Hollywood toughs, that, for my money, was good enough. To those who may not have known Mr. Lee until Hollywood exploited his talent, you may care to know he was born in San Francisco, came to Hong Kong when he was three months old and returned to the U.S. in 1959 where he majored in philosophy at the University of Washington.
He studied Chinese boxing during his years in Hong Kong and it was this learning he put into effect at the Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1964 that won him a break in Hollywood. Spotted by 20th Century [Fox], he was cast in the television series ‘The Green Hornet,’ an ultimate failure, he admits, which ran only one season. But more roles followed. There were chances in ‘Ironside,’ ‘Batman’ and the widely acclaimed ‘Longstreet,’ starring James Franciscus. Now he finds himself a juicy ham in the middle of a sandwich as contract.
Back in Hong Kong to complete a film for Golden Harvest, he said: “I have seen a script for a TV series on Chinese martial art called ‘The Warrior.’* This is the thing I really want to do.” I said the contract should be something of a financial bonanza but here was a man equally as objective with words as muscles.
“My policy is that money is an indirect matter,” he said. “The direct matter is your ability or what you are going to do that counts. If that comes, the indirect things will follow. What I am trying to do is start a whole trend of martial art films in the U.S. To me, they are much more interesting than the gun-slinging sagas of the West. In the Westerns you are dealing solely with guns. Here we deal with everything. It is an expression of the human body.”
What did he think of the blood-thirsty Chinese movies? “You have to be careful,” said Mr. Lee, “of movies that have broadly an action kick. It does not matter, it seems, whether a Chinese movie has a central theme as long as there are so many feet of action. I don’t go for that and I have achieved mutual cooperation with Golden Harvest in the sense that we are going 50/50 - still with the main theme in mind.
What opportunities did he see for other Asian movie stars in Hollywood? “None for the next 10 years,” he said, and followed with a whirlwind attack on the “stars.” “A star is an illusions. Man, is that something that can screw you up. When the public calls you a star, you had better know that it’s only a game. Since 1969, I have been really willing this TV series to happen. At that time, I wanted all the indirect things - money, fame, the big opening nights. Now I have it, or am beginning to get it, the whole thing doesn’t seem important any more. I have found that doing a thing is more important. I am having fun doing it.”
Bruce Lee shook my hand. It crunched in his grip but it was good to meet a man with brains to match his brawn.
*[This show would evolve into Kung Fu, starring David Carradine]