As the Rotterdam Film Festival is world-renowned for its focus on
emerging trends in Asian cinema -- of all the films screening in
Rotterdam, nearly 60% are from Asia -- it is to be expected that Tony
Leung and Maggie Cheung would get the Star Treatment. In town for the
Main Programme showing of one of the most appreciated year 2000 films
the Mood for Love, the two were heartily welcomed at the
evening Late Show, which was standing room only. It was so packed that
the regularly filled-to-capacity late night films were showing empty
Emceed by none other than festival director Simon Fields himself,
the press conference with Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung earlier in the
day turned out to be quite a surprising moment as the two Honk Kong
stars were clearly in the mood for confession and talked about working
with Wong Kar-wai in all honesty.
What made Wong Kar Wai a interesting director when you started
working with him?
Cheung: "Actually, when he offered me to work on his first
film, As Tears go by, I didn't think he was an interesting
director. I didn't even want to do it, because at the time I was
already signed for other films, and I didn't have the time. But
somehow the investor of this film insisted that I should be in it, and
I ended up doing it.
At first, I was very much against the whole project, but it was
during the shoot that I found I realized that he was asking for
different things from me than what I did usually, so he got me
curious. After that, it gave me many ways to develop into another kind
of actress. I was much more interested in being than I was at the time
doing all these action films, comedies, ghost films, flying around in
the air, you now, no big deal!" (laughs)
Leung: "I really enjoyed As Tears go by. One day, Won
Kar Wai offered me the chance to play a character in Days of Being
Wild. He's very good at telling stories, so I accepted. But I did
not do quite well at the beginning. I didn't know why, I had been
working as an actor for ten years, I know I'm quite good, but I just
can't finish one simple scene, with just one line of dialogue. And he
kept asking me to do it again and again. I went through a painful and
exhausting week, with over 20 takes per scene. When I saw the movie, I
saw the last scene and I was quite shocked, I thought: "How could
I do that?" He just had that kind of magic power to get you into
About their shooting experiences with Wong Kar Wai:
Cheung: "On In the Mood for Love, frustrations came
after 6 months of shooting. I wanted to know more, but he didn't
answer me, and I was extending my stay in Honk Kong from 3 months to 6
months, and then 12, and 15. I just couldn't split myself in two for
15 months like that. But towards the end of the shooting, I was
enjoying playing, and I understood his way of working."
Leung: "For Happy Together, I thought we already had
enough footage, what else do we need? I felt homesick, I was very
depressed, and sometimes we didn't work for 3 months, we just stopped,
we got stuck in the script. All I did every day was getting drunk, and
that's what he wanted, since the character had to be very depressed.
That was some kind of torture! Or a new kind of method acting!"
What experience was it to discover In the Mood for Love before
the Cannes screening?
Leung: "It was like... shit, you know! (laughs) We never have
an idea of what the idea is going to be like before the premiere. So
every time I try to find out the missing parts, where is that scene,
where is that now? I was so confused ... I saw the film several times.
I could understand afterwards!"
Cheung: "It was very frightening. We had this small screening
room in Cannes, the night before the real screening. Because the next
day we had to understand questions, so it just made sense that we saw
the film first! (laughs) I was really shocked. The whole thing was so
light, so quiet, the mood of the film really surprised me, he chose
bits and pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and made another little picture
How much footage never made it to the final version?
Cheung: "About 6 hours."
Did Wong Kar-wai actually shoot scenes of his following project
while shooting In the Mood for Love?
Leung: "Yes, he did some scenes. I had to go to Tokyo for
another film and in between he shot a few scenes for 2046, the
Leung Chiu-wai, winner of the Best Actor Award at this year's Cannes, is
coy, modish and mature. In his native China, this handsome star is
famous for his charming eyes. Looking into his eyes while interviewing
the star of In
the Mood for Love, Fanfan Ko was more impressed by his brilliant
your dream by winning the Best Actor Award at Cannes, how did it feel?
In 1997 I was also in competition in Cannes for my performance in Happy
Together. There were plenty of bamboo telegraphs saying that I was favored
to win, and the Committee asked me specifically if I would be at the awards
ceremony that night. All that made me nervous and I fell into a kind of sure-win
fantasy. However, I failed to win. On the way back to the airport, I said to
myself: "I'll be back." Three years later, I was back, and won.
You have worked with many famous directors such as Wong Kar-wai, Hou
Xiao-xian and Anh Hung Tran. Who was your favorite to work with?
I appreciate all of them. But I have the best cooperation with Wong Kar-wai,
with whom I have worked for the past 8 years. Eight years are not a short time.
And it was the most difficult to work with Hou Xiao-xian because of the
language; he speaks Mandarin while I speak Cantonese.
played in five of Wong Kar-wai's films, which one has meant the most to you?
The Days of Being Wild. It was kind of dramatic while shooting this film,
I had something domestic and urgent to handle and could not spare time for the
film as promised, and Wong Kar-wai said that I could shoot for just one scene.
At last when the film came out I was totally stunned by my own performance --
how could it be like that? -- So fantastic and wonderful. Wong Kar-war is a
You were honored as one of the sexiest men in the world by People
magazine and one of the 10 stars of the year by Time. How did this feel?
I don't think of myself as sexy ... Actually I think sexy is something from the
heart, not from appearance. It's an attitude, a temperament.
The Chinese title of the film In the Mood for Love is the "Days
of Being Beautiful," which was arouse by an old song, which part of your
life do you consider your days of being beautiful?
I thought the
phrase was used on girls ... I would like to say my present. I'm mature and
experienced right now, knowing how to cherish every detail in life.