Beijing Youth Weekly Interview
When the interview took place, she’s just called it a day, they’ve been filming Ziyi’s action sequence in YongChuan bamboo forest recently, the hardship is beyond description. But after dinner, while waiting to watch the replay of footages been shot that day, Ziyi happily accepted our interview.
I want to perform the flower fist and embroidered kick better
Watching replays everyday, that is what Ziyi’s been doing for months. Nobody asks her to do it, but she thinks that will help her to pick out some problems, and take some precautions in future. “Beside, the film’s not been wrapped up yet, any flawed parts may be reshot, I want to minimize any regrets. I am not capable of anything else, but making some good movies. That’s why I am specially focused during filming, trying my best to handle the character, to perfect the portrayal of my character.”
Seeking confirmation from Ziyi about injuring herself in Ukraine and Beijing. She smiled genially, making lightly of the matter: “It was quite serious, I crashed my head in Ukraine, but…it doesn’t really matter, I don’t want to talk about it anymore, because……it’s part of the inevitability for film of this genre, I was injured, so were others. Takeshi Kaneshiro suffered a more serious wound falling off a horse. I am quite unperturbed about injury now, it’s my profession, I should be injured, which actor could remain unscathed after filming action films? Just get on with the work afterwards.”
In recent time some reporters snapped a few pictures of House of Flying Daggers on the set of YongChuan bamboo forest, the real life action doesn’t even come close to what’s in the movie, “it’s dull”, sighed the reporters, actors usually only pose for the camera. Asking Ziyi about her comprehension of filming action sequence, she reticent for a moment, slightly helplessly: I wouldn’t boast it’s ‘one minute of performance on stage, ten years of hard work off stage’, but I never cease training on martial arts, including this time I’ve attended some special training session in preparation for House of Flying Daggers. In fact if one’s not a trained martial artist, all can be done is posing some “flower fist and embroidered kick” for camera. But even for phony martial arts, there are good ones and bad ones. All I am pursuing is more realistic fight scenes, be more emulative, a few notches closer to professionals.
Ziyi continued: honestly I am not doing this for anybody, but myself. Nobody demands perfection for performing action sequence. “But you want perfection?” I asked. “Yes, I often speak to action choreographer Ching Siu-Tung : ‘May I repeat this, I want better results.’ I don’t think any directors will say no, all choreographers want actors to give their best go at the choreographed fightings, the more you demand for it, the merrier they get. This is what I am demanding from myself too–though I am no professional, but I always give it all as an amateur.
“You are at least capable of self-defence now?”
“I don’t think anybody will harass me anyway”. Ziyi giggled.
Filming fight scenes in a bamboo forest, it’s not the first time for Ziyi. In Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Ziyi’s duel with Chow Yun Fat is dazzling. Facing a bamboo forest again, Ziyi finds it affectionate. Though they are filming fight scenes, bamboo strikes Ziyi the most as an emblem of peace.
“Can you feel its beauty when flying over the bamboo forest?”
“I guess I can only appreciate its beauty in movies. During filming, specially all we are filming are fight scenes in the bamboo forest, I have to be hung in mid air all day, no food, no water, how can I appreciate anything be it of excessive beauty? My body doesn’t have any spare stamina for it.” On the day of interview, all Ziyi had was a pear.
Ziyi mockingly said she was in a relationship with wire. Not only in her recent few movies she’s been hung from wires, even recent commercials give their goes at wires. In House of Flying Daggers Ziyi’s been hung up-side down several days in a roll. I couldn’t help but asked Ziyi what did it feel like. “Well, numbing legs, swelling legs, bulging eyes, feels like the eyeballs are dropping out of sockets, brain swelling outward. That’s how I feel. So you asked me was the bamboo forest beautiful? How can I appreciate anything in such a state!”
“What’s the longest time you’ve been hung from a wire?
“Fifty minutes.” Ziyi laughed, sound like it’s something irrelevant to her.
Ziyi is most impressed with the increasing of room for creativity in House of Flying Daggers. “What I feel different from the past is now I have the courage to speak up some of my understandings about characters, I have my opinions now. Maybe this is one of my bigger changes. My character in House of Flying Daggers is seasoned, vicissitudinary of temperament, altogether making her a very attractive personality. I think, the creativity does help greatly to the portrayal of my role.
The two months Ziyi spent filming in Ukraine is very memorable.The filming location is called LiWaFu (a direct translation of its Chinese name, I just can’t find its English name), 10+ hours of drive from Ukraine’s capital, they arrived at the time of deep autumn. Different from what Ziyi’s expected: “The autumn is really beautiful there, yellow flowers are blossoming all over the hills, my first impression about Ukraine is ‘green’, 40% of the country is covered in forest. We arrived at the harvest season, orchards are abundant of fruits, I would sometimes pick a few apples, quite fun. Sometimes I would go for a jogging in morning, a walk at night, it’s been two months of quiet life, no distraction what-so-ever. Maybe because we were shooting in a remote location, people there are plain and honest, no pollution as well.
“You should really give Ukraine a go if opportunity is granted.” Ziyi couldn’t help but started advertising for Ukraine, “the young girls are very pretty, and its chocolate is cheap and tasty.”
I wish to build a channel of sincere dialogue with my fans and audiences
Which visited country does Ziyi like the most? :” Every city, advanced or backward alike, you will discover its merits.” If speaking from a tourism perspective, Ziyi likes Australia(hehe, very evidently she’s got some great tastes). She’s been to there with her family. “Australia is scarcely populated, the scenery is beautiful, I particularly like its sea. I grow up in Beijing, chance of laying glimpse on the sea is a rarity, I really like the profundity and vastitude of the sea.”
“You’ve been to different countries, do the locals know you?”
“Most of them have watched my action movies, because of its international appeal, like Rush Hour 2.”
Which country’s fans impress Ziyi more? Her answer is America. “I’ve been to America for a few times already, though many people recognize me, they can’t pronounce my name, maybe it’s because I never have any English names. ‘Zhang Ziyi’ is a bit too hard to pronounce in English, instead they refer me to my character’s name. Most interesting is their admiration never convert to request for photo or autograph, but talking to me nonstop.”
“My American agency receives lots of letters from international fans every month, among them Americans, Japanese, European, and African. Apart from asking for my autograph, more of them show curiosity in Chinese cinema and interest in Chinese culture. I am very pleased whenever reading these letters, because I feel my movie is more than an entertainment to them, it’s also of unusual significance. Maybe it’s a medium, igniting their interest in Chinese, China’s ancient culture, Chinese costume etc. Usually their interest is expressed in a straightforward and sincere manner.
Up to this point of the conversation, Ziyi suddenly showed a tad of melancholy: “I also hope to have more intimate interactions with domestic fans, maybe it’s because I’ve been absent from TV screen in recent years, a feeling of estrangement about me is common among audience, most of them get to know me by entertainment news or tabloid rumours.”
Ziyi feels sorry about this barrier, but she never quite get the chance to express herself, because she’s whole-heartedly bent on her movies in recent years. “In the brand new year, I wish to build up a dialogue with my fans,wherein people can see a genuine, truthful Zhang Ziyi. I wish such a dialogue will be like the conversation between you and me now, you can pen down every sentence of my words, because they’re from the bottom of my heart.”
Zhang Ziyi is out of reach in the eyes of press and many audiences, people are no longer surprised by sporadic reports of her being arrogant. In regard to this, Ziyi didn’t deny: “You wouldn’t think I am a out of reach, self-conceited person. I am not desperate to come clean on this, anyway explanation is sometimes futile. I am not stuck-up as some articles say, such a behaviour is pointless! I love my role, and devote all my vigour to the character, this is my only joy.”
“But if you don’t offer any clarifications, others’ misunderstanding will only stem a deeper root.”
“I don’t care. I’ve been in movie for few years already, the negative publicity never stops. I was upset about it, I felt uneasy about it at some points of stage. But ‘what can I do?'(Ziyi spoke in English) When the film releases, people can see my passions for the character. For people who trust me, they wouldn’t be swayed regardless of what’s been said about me; and for people who don’t, no amount of good reports will persuade them. I can understand the hyper-competition between media institutions nowadays, I can be their sacrifice, I don’t care(Ziyi laughed). I think it’s better to be more optimistic. I am very thankful of the press, whether it’s positive report or negative one, even they dash a sh-it pot in my way(hmm, a very lively analogy), it only shows people are craving for my news.”
“You can think of it in this way, it means you are growing up.”
“I think I am, you’ve witnessed my ripening. The future is a process of time, I will keep refining myself, people will gradually come to see it.”
I am X in many people’s eyes
Actresses of youth and beauty is usually deemed ‘idol’, but rarely people categorize Zhang Ziyi as either “idol” or “skilful acting”. Ziyi is quite pleased about this. “I seem to be a particular exception, in many people’s eyes I am a X–unknown variable. I may not be where I am today without Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I am clueless about how I got this far, I am full of question marks to others. So I think it’s very nice that I have not been typecast.”
“But some people say you deliberately remain enigmatic, in order to incite people’s querying desire about you?”
“I am not that clever, I will rather place my ingenuity on acting.”
In contrast to the other three of “four famous actress” ‘s ‘vivacity’ in second half of 2003, Ziyi seemed rather ‘quiet’, is she a bit frustrated? Ziyi answered peacefully: “No, I think every actor has his/her own brewing or cultivating phases. My most wished state is, away from the limelight in usual time, but when my movie comes out, people will pay attention to my character, my performance, this is my happiest time. No news is not bad news to me, I even think being hermetic is indeed a very nice thing, I don’t feel like to making headlines everyday, doing interviews everyday.”
Though being relative quiet, Ziyi still pays close attention to her peers. For example, she really admires Xu JingLEi (one of the four famous actress)’s resolution to join the rank of film directors. “As a young girl, carrying so many burdens, she’s outstanding. I don’t think I am capable of these, I may not even pull off a quarter of what she’s been doing, so I think Xu’s a very energetic actor. I really respect her, whether her work will be recognized (I think Ziyi means Xu’s first directed movie), at least she has the confidence, the courage to try something new.”
“Are you interested in other fields now?” It’s rumoured Zhang Ziyi is going to invest in Korean movie “My Wife’s a Gangster III”.
“It’s completely wind chasing and shadow catching. I want to be a good actor first, nobody can be perfect, I don’t have that much energy to cross into other fields. I enjoy the process of being an actor, I only want to dedicate to every one of my roles, and making some good movies. This is what I am most interested in and enthusiastic about at this moment.”
Ziyi’s had a “flashy” appearance in “My wife is a gangster II”, Is it a preparation for the third instalment?
But Ziyi said she hadn’t made up her mind yet, the cameo appearance in the second one is meant as a small favour for her friends. “I made some Korean friends while filming Musa, they always hope to work with me again, so agreeing to a cameo appearance is giving them a hand, friendship transcends principle on some occasions. Beside, I want to have a ride with Korean action movies.”
Ziyi talked with great relish about her impression of Shin Eun-gyeong: “she’s cute, a very outgoing person. At the time I arrive at the press conference, she received me with a bundle of flowers by the door, she said it was surprising to see such a legion of reporters swarming in, and very appreciative of my patronage. It’s not usual for other actors to say something like this, but she’s very sincere, and exudes a sense of big sister. That day she also told me she was gonna to get married.”
Apart from joining the cast of this movie “without principle”, last year Ziyi’s accepting of Hou Yong’s Jasmine Blossom is also against her established principle, accepting his offer without even reading the script. “This is based on a trust, I know he wouldn’t hurry into this project. Last year I’ve watched all the works directed by three cinematographers: Hou Yong, Gu ChangLe and LvLe, because they have their ideas, they are doing movies fully prepared, their motivation is more of love for the craft than anything else.”
Getting Zhang Ziyi into the cast, that self forebodes a success at the box office, it’s already a undisputable fact. “In some degrees it’s a recognition to you, placidly you’ve already become benchmark for many young and aspiring actors.” “If this is a goal, I think our generation of actors are of particular good fortunes, we are in a time of booming opportunity, we can choose from a rather exuberant themes, there are lots of chances ahead of us.”
In the last few years, every student at central drama college dreamed to be the next Gong Li, now the next Zhang Ziyi is what they are aiming for. “Do you have a say to these illusionary teenagers?”
“Just like in real life, when you are really craving for a person, or a dinner to be in your dreams, it will often be bedashed. Dream doesn’t come when you are fully prepared, it often catch you off guard, I am a typical example of this. Many Chinese kids are often demanded by their parents for lofty ambitions. What do they want to do when they grow up? they often answer: scientist, pilot etc. We are all dreaming about these in our childhood. But as I grow up, I realize we need real goals, not dreams, of course this goal can’t only be fantasy.”
“Really curious about your childhood dreams.”
She was a bit shy, :”I had two dreams, one is kindergarten teacher, another one is stewardess.”
Ziyi never board a flight in her childhood, in her eyes “stewardess” is a divine profession, “because the criteria for stewardess is particularly harsh: college degree, tenderness, prettiness and mental toughness.”
“What’s your dream now after becoming an actor?”
“Playing a goold role I guess. But this is not my dream, it’s only a wish. Just like I want to play Snow White, but nobody will film a Snow White movie anyway, how can I play that role?(Ziyi laughed) Back in my college days, we were asked to present our blueprints for future, only one guy said he wanted fame, nobody was thinking about it. I was quite simple at that time, a deputy director came to me once about arranging a meeting with a director for me. But I told him I had some homeworks to attend to. He found it incredulous, telling me director is more important than homework, I said the tutor was most important.”
“What a innocent time it is.” I sighed. “If I was hell-bent on what I wanted to be, maybe I would lose concentration on my study, and hence losing any possibilities to portray my roles today.”
It’s amazing that the little girl once pestered by schoolworks is now a scintillating star. “What’s your goal now?” “Keep raising the bar for myself, it maybe beyond me, but it’s always there.” Ziyi said so.
“Let’s talk about this year.” Ziyi shift our topic to 2004 with great ease. She’s already got two big productions on her schedule this year: one japanese movie, another one american. Though no further detail about her new movies has been revealed, one thing is ascertain, her roles are much more than a mere “showing of face” as in Rush Hour II. “Once is enough for that genre.” She said.
What’s her plan in the new year, Ziyi answered without hesitation: “learn driving.” Ziyi is yet to have a car, she said she rarely tend to “facades” such as what car to drive, or what luxurious brand to wear, under the influence of her parents’ rather simple and modest lifestyle. “my parents admonish me not to be flaunty and pompous, it’s best not to stand out from others.”
The car-less Ziyi laughingly said getting a taxi was quite handy, and she could have a chat with the driver, it’s quite fun. But she didn’t deny that cab drivers could barely contain their astoundment after recognizing her, the biggest question is: why have you got on a taxi? Star of your statue should own several cars.”
Does Ziyi expect to meet her white knight in the new year? Unexpectedly, she’s unconcerned: “Delivering good performance in my movie is more important than ten white knights combined.”
Ziyi had drawn her vision of white knights in childhood, usually the type straight out of QiongYao (a very famous Taiwanese romantic novelist, many teenage girls are obsessed with her love story), she’s most impressed with QiongYao’s “Cai Yun Fei” (literally means colorful cloud flying). She can only envision “to run into someone with mutual understandings in future” now.
“I think to find a bf, without spending much time with him, is quite cruel to him. So I will wait and see.”
Ziyi confesses her attitude toward love isn’t that “grey”. But she doesn’t want to be in anticipation of it, “Love may come along when you are least expecting it, then you are feeling in love, it’s gone. Love is like dream, unpredictable.”
Being actor is more the cherishable in this context. “I am not devoid of love, I’ve tried all kinds of loves in movies, and dating different guys each time, my fantasy for love is quite contented.”
Speaking of the upcoming Spring Festival, Ziyi is very ecstatic about it. Because House of Flying Daggers is going to be wrapped up before the festival, what then does she want to do the most? Ziyi slipped the word out of her lips: “skiing”. She tried it by accident last year, and fell in love with it instantly. It only took her once to grasp the skill, she feels unbridled at the moment of skiing.
Skiing enlightens Ziyi on the necessity of venturing out into the uncharted territory. “In fact I was really scared of skiing, but I still did give it a go, I then realized I could manipulate my body. As an actor, you never know what your other potentials are, but if you try valiantly, you will give yourself a pleasant surprise. Don’t be afraid, this is life, embrace it with passion and without fear.”
“Let’s go skiing.” This Spring Festival, it’s the date between me and Ziyi.
Translated by RGR103 for HelloZiyi.us