Source: The Straits Times (Singapore), January 22, 2003 Author: Clarissa Oon
HK stars Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung, who play lovebirds once more in Hero, say they cannot ever be lovers because of 'personality differences'.
WITH their charisma and easy chemistry, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai are the Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart of Chinese cinema.
Like the Hollywood pair, the Hongkong couple look great together on screen, and in person, they are comfortable with each other.
Seated side by side at the Hero press conference in Beijing last month, the two were lost in their own private world, whispering and laughing among themselves while director Zhang Yimou fielded the bulk of the questions.
The couple have beguiled film-goers playing star-crossed lovers in masterpieces like Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love (2001), and in the latest Zhang Yimou epic Hero.
And they are not cagey about being real-life buddies either, each chatting at length about the other in separate interviews without too much prompting from reporters.
In her husky, Hongkong-accented Mandarin, Cheung, 38, called him 'a very close friend' and 'the co-star who most understands me'.
Leung, 40, returned the compliment: "Increasingly we don't have to say a lot of
things because we already know what the other person is thinking."
Mind-reading aside, one can tick off the attributes that could ignite real-life fireworks.
Both are casual yet stylish dressers. Cheung sported a tight, red sweater, jeans and a spiky new hairdo while Leung was decked out in faded blue jeans and a V-necked, checked vest.
Both are single. Well, sort of. Cheung recently split from her French director-husband Olivier Assayas, while Leung has had an on-off relationship with Hongkong actress Carina Lau for 14 years.
Both are intelligent actors too, "committed to film-making as a craft, as opposed to actors who just want to make money or see a film as a star-vehicle", as Cheung said.
Befitting their mega-star status, the Hongkong pair even made some suggestions that shaped the final form of Hero.
For instance, the film's four different colour-coded narratives, which represent various characters' versions of events, did not, initially, differ much in terms of plot.
As Leung said: "That would have been very boring for the audience. So we
discussed it with the director, and the script was changed."
Although both share a common love for cinema, Cheung and Leung rule out the possibility that their love would extend to each other.
Cheung said, smiling: "We are both very sensitive. If we were lovers, we would
fight all day long."
She added: "I've dated for so long that I think romantic love is not difficult
to find, but a good friend who understands you is rarer."
Leung feels that they are quite different in temperament.
"She looks for happiness, and will do whatever makes her happy. I'm very pessimistic."
"Sometimes, out of the blue, she will want to do all sorts of things. I can't
deal with that, I have to plan everything properly first."
Besides, he added, Cheung is too 'intellectual' for him.
He recalled that on the set of In The Mood For Love: "Maggie kept telling me to
'listen' to the script, and said I wasn't professional."
With that, he laughed, his eyes wrinkling at the corners, as if talking fondly about a soul mate.