Zhang Ziyi: A to Z
[Translator’s note: This interview begins with the host talking about how amazing it is that Ziyi shot to international fame in a matter of two years with her film debut in The Road Home (1998) and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (1999). I translated most of Z’s words and left out some others, mostly repetitions. I also skipped some of the narrations to save time.]
The first words Ziyi says to the audience are: “Hello, audiences at home (China) and overseas. I am Zhang Ziyi. You are now watching China Showbiz on CCTV International (CCTV-4).”
That edition is called “Zhang Ziyi A – Z in 2002, everything you want to know about her” or something to that effect.
A (Affair) is about Ziyi attending a ceremony marking the establishment of a charity foundation for Tibet Autonomous Region, with Ziyi, in her capacity as Charity Ambassador to Tibet and appropriately dressed in an ethnic Tibetan robe, presenting the check to a government official from the Roof of the World.
B (Background) shows Z introducing the charity fund to the guests: “The most important thing is to spread the word that everybody is welcome to donate to the fund, which will be used for Tibet’s development…”
C (Communication) – Ziyi says the foundation will concentrate on helping Tibetan children get better education in the first year of its work.
D (Development): “If I can find time later this year, I hope to go to Tibet in June, July or August, to see with my own eyes the beauty of Tibet and experience life there myself.”
E (Eagerness): “After making a few martial arts movies, challenging and taxing as the experience was, I now quite like this genre. But I also look forward to the opportunity to make some good art house films, as people in this kind of situation would say: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
F (Friends): “I have made some very good friends over the years and they have helped me when I was badly in need. This kind of friendship, like family bonds, just cannot be obtained by exchanging gifts or things like that.”
G (Goodness): “Charity is something I’ll be doing all my life, rather than picking it up only in retirement.”
H (Hobby): “Read good books. As many as I can. Imagination is very important for actors. When I was in college, the teachers never taught us how to portray every type of character there is. Instead, they showed us the way (method) to understand a role and become the character. You can imagine yourself as a particular person in the story you are reading. And watch movies, be it on DVD or in theaters, as many as possible.”
Here the host says some people are born to enrich others’ lives, like Ziyi, who became the focus of media attention soon after debuting in The Road Home and has not been able to escape the spotlight ever since.
I (Image): I like casual clothes, such as jeans. I won’t dress up unless the occasion requires it. As for blings, those lovely little ear pins are my favorite. If I get a really good role, I’m willing to shed my hair for it. I’ve always had this long hair, since I was five years old. When I was in dance school, my hair at one time reached my thighs. We all had to tie our hair into a bun in classes. I remember my bun was so big it looked like it was weighing my head down backward when I practiced ballet postures. My teacher ordered me to cut it short because I looked ridiculous.”
J (Job): The reason why I chose to join the National Drama Theater upon graduation is that I hope to portray some characters on stage in the future.”
K (Keeping): “I’m the type of person who never pretends in real life. I can talk a lot in an interview if I find the reporter agreeable.”
L (Luck): “Many people say Zhang Ziyi is the luckiest girl in this business. I agree. If I had not trained at the Central Drama Academy, if I had not been cast in The Road Home and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, people would probably not be seeing me now. Luck is really very important in one’s life. I’m a perfect example of this. My advice? Don’t ever waste a chance at good luck when you meet one. If I had let any of my lucks slip by, my role in The Road Home or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would have gone to someone other than Zhang Ziyi.”
M (Marriage): “In this big, big world, different people have different views of and attitudes towards love and marriage. I have thought about it, too. I should say my understanding of love, or my criteria for love, is honesty and sincerity. Whether to the one you love, your fans or your parents, the most important thing is to be honest and sincere.
Why do people like The Road Home so much? I think it’s because the kind of simple and real love displayed by the characters in the story appeal to people all over the world. People of different races all prefer this kind of love.”
N (New movies): “Take Hero for instance, some people have commented that I play only a minor role in the film. I accepted the role because the director is Zhang Yimou, who discovered me when I was only an 18-year-old student and helped me on to a good start in my career. I owe him my success and will always look up to him like a father figure no matter how I’ll be in the future.”
O (Objective): “I’ll work for several charity foundations in coming years. I especially want to help poor children go to school. This is the only wish I have in my life. I hope to do whatever I can to help them, like building schools for them.”
P (Parents): “I’m a tough girl and my parents know this very well. But they always worry about me. I know their hearts hurt more when I’m sad. I often had to ask them to take it easy when they read rumors about and false accusations against me and talked about suing the publications. I had to tell them all this is expected in this business and we just have to adapt ourselves to it. In a way it’s survival of the fittest.”
Q (Question): “(Will you ever make TV drama?) It will depend on the script, the character and the director. People, including my parents and myself, cannot live without television. If there is a good script for me, of course I’ll do it. Hope one will be coming my way before it’s too late. Right now I don’t have a plan for the future. But, if the time comes when the showbiz no longer needs me, or when I feel myself no longer fit to work in it, I might turn to a simple and ordinary life, or pursue something I want to do beside acting.”
R (Reputation): “I don’t fret about it. I prefer dealing with things as they come and as they are.”
S (Singing): “I’m sure I can never sing as well as those pop stars. If I want to take up singing, I’ll need a lot of time learning (the techniques). It’s not easy at all to sing well. Certainly not everyone who is not mute can do it, as some people claim.”
T (Thank): “There are so many people I want to thank I don’t think there is one way to do it all. For instance, I am so grateful to my teacher at CDA that I’ll contact her every time I come back to Beijing and chat with her on the phone. When the academy needs me for something, such as anniversary celebrations, I’ll put down whatever I’m doing to go there and work for my alma mata. It’s the least I can do.”
U (United-cooperation): “I’m still focused on making movies in China. I’m not looking forward to working in Hollywood just yet. Even if Hollywood is willing to pay me a lot of money and give me a lot of time to prepare for the role, I won’t take it unless I’m sure I can portray the character in English.”
V (View): “I live with my parents in an apartment owned by the government. Many of our neighbors are my father’s colleagues. They still treat me like the girl next door they know for years. They are what I call real people and that’s what I call real, normal life.”
W (Wound): “There was a while when I was at odds with the Hong Kong press, because they intentionally hurt me for their own profit. They didn’t care how I felt when they (verbally) abused me. I couldn’t pretend to be friendly to them when they treated me like that. If I can’t fight back, at least I can try to avoid them.”
X (X-files): Ziyi’s personal particulars such as name, date of birth, blood type and movie credits, nothing we don’t know already.
Y (Years): “All actors wish for a lasting career. So do I. But no matter what I do in my life, charity will always remain in my work schedule.”
Z (Zenith): “I never worry about how I can become a red-hot movie star. The only thing I wish for in my career is a good role in a good script. Other things will happen when they do.”
Before the end of the program, Ziyi thanks CCTV-4 (International) and the audience for giving her the opportunity to make herself clear as to who, what and how she is.
Translated by Jiminthemiddle for HelloZiyi.us