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Zhang Ziyi: You become stronger after difficulties

December 04, 2014   |   Written by Genevieve Sarah Loh

The Chinese actress talks about why she likes taking on challenging roles

SINGAPORE — Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi always enjoys coming to Singapore.

The actress, who along with Hong Kong director John Woo, was in town for the Singapore gala premiere of their new film, The Crossing.

“Being here really brings back good memories,” she said at a press conference today (Dec 4) held in conjunction with the 25th Singapore International film festival (SGIFF) earlier today. (Zhang was the event ambassador of the inaugural ScreenSingapore back in 2011.)

“A good film festival is about a lot of different people coming together to exchange ideas and promote great films,” she said.

The Crossing, which is premiering in the Special Presentation section of SGIFF, is the first of a two-part epic which follows the fortunes of three men. Directed by Woo, it also stars some of Asia’s top stars, including Huang Xiaoming, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo and Masami Nagasawa.

“Who wouldn’t want a chance to work with the legendary John Woo?” she said. “My generation of actors all relish an opportunity to work with a director like him. He’s a very caring director. Plus, when I looked at the script, I was very moved.”

In the movie, Zhang plays Yu Zhen, a woman who goes through much hardship – including being a prostitute – in order to find happiness with her beloved. “She has persistence and perseverance and I think all successful women in the world have that trait,” she said. “So why did I choose to do this role? Because in my life, I’ve never had this same experience. I never had to endure (Yu Zhen’s) pain. It was a very challenging role.

“If I find a movie and role that I like, I’ll insist on doing it,” she added. “Even though it might be very difficult preparing for it and filming it. If I really believe that my choice is correct, then I’ll do it! Because you become stronger after the going through a difficult process.”

And as for Chinese media reports about her recent revelation about her desire to get married soon, Zhang said: “Marriage, and life in general, all needs to happen naturally. Really, I feel that a lot of things cannot be planned. Especially relationships. How do you plan that? You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow, right? “Relationships are all about protecting each other and giving each other space. It’s about being patient and tolerant with one another,” she continued, before adding a cheeky sign-off to the press: “You guys understand that? You won’t write that wrongly would you?”

The Crossing is showing at the 25th SGIFF and will also open in cinemas tomorrow.