Monkey Peaches

Zhang Ziyi Talks About Purple Butterfly, The Day Before Her Trip To Cannes

May 20, 2003

The day before flying to Cannes, Zhang Ziyi had an telephone interview with Shenyang Today. She talked about the film, the director, her co-stars and herself…

“The best way to get experience is to act, because making (a) film is a long process, by which I kept improving myself and rediscovering myself, and (I) need time and effort to understand it. Every time I make a film, I learn, and review what I have learned from the process. And a person grows by continuously accumulating work and life experience.”

Favorite Project
“Among the projects I have done, I can’t say which one is my favorite, because my productivity is very low. Last year, there was just Purple Butterfly, and this this there are only 2046 and Mo Hua Li Kai (Jasmine Women.) “I’m not the kind person who wants high onscreen appearance rate and take projects without a guideline. I must be responsible for the project I chose, and once I made commitment to it, I must cherish it. For an actor, once decided, must then do their best. Whether one did his or her best, will be seen in the end.”

“Cinema is just like a steamed bun, just a piece of it, unlike pizza, whose toppings can be clearly seen. Cinema is something of a mixture.”
“Cinema is an art of teamwork. It requires a good team and a good overall feeling. After watching a movie, people may not be able to say who is the best or which part (of it) is the best, but (they) will be attracted by it and I think this should be the best result. If only attractive one dimensionally, then I think the audiences do not understand it fully; if only attractive by a section of it, then the film is not very successful.”

Purple Butterfly
“Performance in Purple Butterfly is very simple. Actors were not wearing makeup nor lavish costume. You can even see the dots on our faces. (laugh) The director (Lou Ye) is so bold, and the actors are also pretty bold, because we don’t look so well. But I believe that’s closer to the characters in the film and that’s all I want.”

“About the characters, I think although they lived in a time different from ours, their reaction and attitude toward (a certain) event are the same. I can’t tell whether I like my character or not. Just wait until I see it. I haven’t see the film yet! It will be premièred in Cannes on (May) 22nd and it would my viewing of the film.”

“The film is talking about a kind of strength. Director Lou Ye didn’t give us too much direction and our performances felt very improvisational. The actors were following their feelings, no rehearsal, no telling you to lay down, you just lay down. No telling you to jump up, you just jump up. So it’s a big challenge, not only for actors, but also for the cinematographer, Wang Yu.”

“Four leads, Feng Yuanzheng, Liu Ye, Li Bingbing and me, are all from Central Experimental Drama Group, and we know each other very well. You know in before, I made movies either in abroad, or worked with actors from Hong Kong or Taiwan, there were many differences. This time it’s different, we worked together very relaxedly. The entire team is consisted of young people and Lou Ye is also very young. We worked together very relaxedly. Staying with so many young people, I could feel the existence of enthusiasm.

Lou Ye, the Director
“In before, I hadn’t take any role like it, and he but offered me the opportunity. This was a great trust and it made me feel moved. After we wrapped up each shot, I didn’t talk too much with him. But I remember in the end he said to me, “Well done, Ziyi!” Then I just couldn’t control my tears. I really hope he could win, really. He is very quiet everyday. He probably never praised anyone on the set. So this simple word made feel he was serious. I will watch the film very carefully, to see whether I have done what he has asked for.”

Jasmine Women and Cannes
“We are working overtime to make Mo Li Hua Kai. I even got confused with day and nighttime. I just leave (the set) whenever they tell me to leave. I don’t know what I will wear at Cannes. There are many (designers?) working for me. I will decide when arrived in Cannes. I am excited about going to Cannes. I go there to cheer for Purple Butterfly.”

Zhang Ziyi’s Luck
“That’s right, I’m really lucky and I’m a fatalist. Many things have happened to me. They just happened, I don’t know why, I don’t know when, just happened. But sometimes opportunity is same for everyone. It’s up to you to handle it. Lou Ye didn’t think I was able to take the role. He gave me an odd of 1:1. Take it or not is up to whether I am capable of.”

“Many things are linked together. Nothing happens by accident. Everyone must be worthy of every day, every moment. This is enough.”

“An actor should always feel accomplished, but with one condition – treating every project seriously. If the project is the result of your hard work, you will feel deeply. If you don’t take it seriously, maybe some gives you a good review, but you can’t improve yourself.”

“As an actress, I am not afraid of being classified, because each actor wants different kind of recognitions from different roles.”

Purple Butterfly’s Bid for Golden Palm
“I’m not nervous at all, because I have done my best.”