Zhang Ziyi in Her Latest Film Sophie's Revenge
China is proud to have Zhang as she once again returns to the big screen, reigning in all her Hollywood experience to not only star in but also produce the romantic comedy Sophie’s Revenge, premiering in China on August 14.
Sophie’s Revenge tells the story of how cartoonist Sophie tries to win her fiance back while getting the best of the competition. Zhang said she was grateful for the opportunity to star in this comedy, recalling that when she first read the script, she realized the happy-go-lucky Sophie really suited her age and personality.
“I’ve done so many melancholy and depressive roles, which have tired me out, though deep down I appreciate those challenges as they have enhanced my acting greatly,” Zhang told the Global Times.However, she had doubts about whether she could act in a comedic role. “It’s a genre I’ve never attempted before.”
But Zhang said the hardest challenge was to overcome the audience’s image of her on the red carpet surrounded by paparazzi while portraying Sophie, the bubbly girl next-door.
“Actually I have my other side which people don’t normally get to see.” She said the character gave her a vehicle to express that lighter side, giving audiences a more complete picture of her personality.
The film marks both her first comedic performance and turn as a producer, at last fulfilling her desire to get involved in every aspect of filmmaking, although she admits that this film was a crash course for her.
“To me, being a producer is not about having total control over everything. What’s more important is that I got a chance to experience and learn so many new things.”She also emphasized that the film was the result of the whole crew’s effort, from finding investors to casting actors.”If the film is a success, it should be accredited to not just me, but everyone involved in the work.”
Zhang revealed the film’s investment was less than the rumored 50 million yuan (US$7.315 million), the majority of the funding coming from a Chinese online game company. “We’ve stretched our budget, considering the high profile of our cast and production team.”She revealed that the cast worked for much cheaper than usual, explaining that they were largely attracted to the project by the quality of the script. “If we paid Fan Bingbing her going rate, we might need to add another 10 million yuan (US$1.463 million).”
She also acknowledged the possibility that her all-star cast accepted lower salaries just for the opportunity to work with her, and that she was grateful to them. “It was a first time collaboration with the cast. I was curious what kind of sparks we could create together.”
According to Zhang, a sizeable portion of the film’s investment money was spent on post-production and creating a comfortable working environment. She said it is crucial to make a pleasant, positive atmosphere in order to get a positive end product.
“As an actress myself, I understand the importance of taking really good care of everyone working on the film. I definitely was not willing to pinch pennies there.”Zhang also recruited the best talent available for every aspect of the film, from Korean special effect teams to Hollywood orchestral musicians. “We wanted the highest possible production value.”
But regardless of the film’s future success or failure, she expressed her hope for more opportunities to be a producer, even alluding to ambitions of directing, while continuing her acting career. “I have great passion for film, and there are still so many potentially great films to be made out there.”With her devotion to the cinema and her expanding involvement in the film industry, Zhang has made adjustments in her personal plans for the future. She said she had always hoped to get married and start a family as a young girl, “but when I got to 30, my focus changed.”She said she still wants a family, but in considering her current schedule and ambition, Zhang will not stop her career for marriage.
“Film is too important to me. It’s a medium that lets me directly communicate with audiences and have an impact on society as a whole.”