Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Fri May 06, 2005 1:09 am Post subject: 29 Apr 2005 Tony met with Sandy in NY
|Thanks Sandy for sharing her story with us. See her story below. Sandy, I hope you won't mind I copied and pasted her story here.
So where do I start? I know I need to write a report on this somehow. News has already written a beautiful piece on meeting TLCW. How am I going to complement her writing and giving you all a good feel for what has happened?
Maybe I will begin from the end.
When he was about to leave, I extended my hand and said to him, "I really appreciate you taking the time out to meet with us. I do hope we will see each other again." He mumbled something about he might not come to US for a long time. I looked at him in the eye and said again,"I hope we will see each other again." Then it's a firm handshake between us.
After he shook hands with everyone, was about to step out of the lounge, he waved goodbye at us. He stood there only for a moment, but it felt like an eternality. I couldn't read what he is thinking, but he clearly does not look like he is ready to leave.
Sometimes moments like this makes you wonder about fate. When I met with Tony on Friday, fate was something mentioned couple times during our conversation.
No, we didn't have an elaborate and intense Q/A session like News and Summertimes had. When I met Tony on Friday afternoon, he just had a very tiring photo session. Once we got over the initial awkwardness, and we started to get a feel for each other. He realized that he does not have to entertain me. We were just hanging out like old friends.
I was just happy sitting next to him, and letting him enjoying his champaign. The makeup artist was also there to keep our company. I joked she was his drinking buddy. I don't take any alcoholic beverages, so I was filling myself with water. Got to say I had a lot of water on Friday night though.
He was quiet, enjoying his champaign, and chatting with the make up artist on random topics. Even though I was the guest, but I am more like an impartial observer. I am not the type who can not hold conversation for hours. So this is the perfect for me.
More to come...
On Friday before we met, Tony was going to give me a call after his photo shoots. Since both of us are visitors of NYC, I thought I should attempt to find the hotel he stays before he calls me. I thought I would have a better luck of locating him than him trying to find me.
I was in town for a site visit to NYU at the same time, so the schedule worked out perfectly for me. After my site visit to NYU, I took the subway and walked on the Canal street until I reached the hotel. I thought to myself, "Should I just go in and wait for him, or should I wait for the phone call from outside?"
If any of you has been to NYC, there aren't many places to stand or sit on the street. I walked into the hotel lobby and found a comfortable chair to settle in. Around me, there are faces I've known, or I should have known (Pardon me for my limited celebrity knowledge). Ang Lee was giving an interview at the far corner. He was the only one I could identify.
It was a quarter to six. Tony said he would call after six. So I used the time to relax and observe people walking in and out of the lobby.
Many people have come and passed.
I wasn't particularly paying attention to anyone. I took my cell phone out of the pocket and placed it on the table in front of me - just in case it rings it will be right in front of me.
A little past six, two Asian-looking folks walked out of the elevator. They were chatting among themselves, walking casually toward the lounge.
The man in gray sweater looks somewhat familiar. Now, where have I seen him before? Could it be? As they approaching closer to my sofa, I thought to myself. This is him! Surprisingly, my heart didn't skip a beat. It feels like I have just seen another friend that I happened to know for a long time.
I got up, walked toward them, extended my hand out and said, "This is Sandy."
For any ordinary folks, this would be a startling introduction.
But not Tony, he stopped for a second, and extended his hand. After a moment of recollection, he found out who I am. He started explaining to me that he was going to call me a bit later. The lady standing next to him whom I got to know later was his make up artist. She said they had just finished a photo shoot. They came downstairs for a quick drink.
Well, since I was already there, they asked me if I want to join them.
I happily went along, and we settled into a corner at the bar.
(There are times I wonder if he realized what he has done when he called me two nights ago. When he told me the hotel he was staying in NYC, he must know there is no escaping from this point on. I will be there, whether he has time or not. I am that determined to hunt him down, and he is not leaving NYC without meeting me. Later on, I told News and Summertime during our bubble tea time prior their meeting with Tony. If Tony somehow couldn't meet them for whatever reason, I would feel personally responsible for luring them to NYC. I would hunt him down if I have to. Thankfully, Tony kept his promise, and I don't have to go to the extreme. Before I left for NYC, my friend at DC told me to stay away the NY Post front cover. The last thing they would like to read is about a maddening fan disguising as hotel staff and chasing movie star around. I thought that was a hilarious idea, but it's not too far fetching. I could be pretty scary if I really want to be. Haha...)
The first thing I said after we settled down at the bar was about News and Summertime. I was worried Tony might not have time to meet with them. I told him that both News and Summertime are coming quite a distance to NYC. It would be great if he can spend a few minutes of his time with them.
He was somewhat hesitant at first. He wasn't expecting me at the lobby to greet him, and now I am asking him to meet two more fans the next day. He could turn me down, but he thought about it for a moment, and said, "Let me see, maybe tomorrow at 5? I have dinner plan at 7. Maybe we can meet before then."
I was happy that it went so well. I never thought what if he said no. What would I tell the two poor girls who were stuck on the bus somewhere on their way to NYC at this very moment?
Later on, I told him it was all Info's idea. Info and him go way back. Info has emailed me and asked me to recruit more folks to NYC. When News and Summertime contacted me, I told them I will do what I can, but there is no guarantee. Hey, both girls braved the idea and came anyway.
So Info, you will have to take the heat now. I told Tony that Info is really into the idea of having more fans to meet with him. If there is anyone to blame, blame her. It takes a lot of his energy and time to entertain fans. Think about it, how much fun it is to have strangers to ask you questions, sometimes rather foolish and intimate questions, and to sign autographs, and to pose for photos after photos. It's work! Quite frankly, he is doing me a favor in agreeing to meet with me. I am asking him to spend another two hours with more fans. He doesn't have to do it, but he did it as a courtesy to the fans who are now in a bus on the way to NYC. Of course, if we need a scapegoat, we can always blame it on Info when we want to.
BTW, Tony talks quite fondly about Info that's why I can leverage as much as I did. For the readers who are outside of HK, Info has been a TLCW fan for many many years... (sorry I am making you sound rather old. )
After we settled the meeting time for Saturday, there was silence. I am not sure what to ask him and he is not sure what to say to me. Thank god there is the makeup artist who keeps us from dead silence. Sometimes we fill these silence with smiles. He would smile at me and I would smile back. It seems like that is the most natural way to go about it.
When we first started talking, he said to me it's taking such a long time but we finally managed to meet. I said to him that I would never believe I would meet him in person at NYC. I am still having a hard time believing it now. Someone said this is fate. (maybe it's the makeup artist.)
News already mentioned the drill. Since I am not saying much, Tony started to ask me questions. Someone has to break the ice. He asked a bit about my background and things in that nature. I asked a little bit about his schedule. Then we fell into silence again. It wasn't awkward silence. There is no need to fill in words when both of us need a moment to pause and let our mind wander.
The trouble I have is that I knew this man so well. I probably knew more about some obscure facts that he doesn't even remember. So what else is there to say when everything is known?
When the makeup artist started chatting with Tony in Cantonese, I told them that my extremely limited Cantonese comes from the years of watching his tv series. He laughed.
Then the makeup artist asked me how many years I have been a fan. I roughly counted the years I have been collecting his things. I said," Fifteen years. I have watched every tv series and movies that he made." The makeup artist commented, "Most of his fans have been with him for a long time. " Tony nodded in agreement.
The makeup artist asked, "Are there any bad films he made?" I rolled my eyes and looked at Tony. Tony looked down, and said something in the line of "we all have to work."
He asked me if I have seen 2046. I said I have the DVD though I don't particularly enjoy it. My favorite has always been In the Mood for Love and Happy Together. The makeup artist commented ITMFL was really a lady's film.
I don't remember how we ended up talking about this. But Tony said he is getting tired of acting in films. He has been in the business for 25 years. Now he is ready to try something else, like production management. I don't know where this is coming from, but I said to him," I see a lot more potential in you. As your life experience grew, your character can grow as well. I really think your best film is the next one you ought to make. " It sounds like a lot of pressure, and he was kind of astonished by my comments. Another silent moment. He drifts into a deeper thought.
We chatted on and off. Not on any particular subjects. Mostly I was just there keeping their company before dinner time. They were filling up champaign glasses one after another.
Somewhere in the conversation we talked about Info. I told him," Now I see why Info is so devoted to you. You are so kind to your fans. She wants to pay back that kindness to you, and spreads that kindness among other fans. She is trying to connect more fans and giving us a chance to know you." Tony nodded and took in what I said. (Info has mentioned time and time again to me that I wouldn't be disappointed when I meet with Tony. It's like she has already forseen the future. This meeting took place mostly because of her persistent devotion to TLCW.)
At times I feel like I was been interviewed by the makeup artist. She asked me if it's a lot of work to build the website. I briefly look over toward Tony and said, "It's all worth it. I am doing it because I really enjoy your work. Now meeting you in person, it is so nice to know you are so kind, humble and decent. I think it's all worthwhile." Tony appears touched by what I said. He fell into silence.
When Tony found out I was going to wait in line for 2046 the next day, he called out to his manager (a guy who happened to walk by). He asked him if there are any extra tickets left. Apparently all free tickets were given away. He looked rather apologetic. I said to him, "This is fine. Don't worry about it. You are doing more than you should." I think he got the message that I am pretty satisfied just spending time with him. There is really no need to do more beyond that.
More to come --- (I think I have covered most of it already).
Don't remember how this came up. He said years of acting was quite straining. He has to be ready to burst into the different mode of emotion at any given time. For instance, he could be walking into a set feeling perfectly happy, yet the director would ask him to play a sad scene and cry. I ask him how does he do it. He said it's a matter of keeping a constant baseline - not too high, not too low, be ready for anything.
Like I said, our conversation was kind of drifting from one topic to another. I don't know why I said this to him. Maybe it was after we had a discussion of his intention to make people happy by been so accommodating to the fans. I asked him, "Don't you feel like you are playing God?" He laughed, "No, I think I am playing an angel. If what I do can make people happy, why not?" This is after he had a couple drinks. Tony put his hands on top of his head, and flap it twice. It's hilarious.
Backtrack a little bit. I should give you all a framework for why I ask this question. I told him the shock I had when he called me two nights ago. The makeup artist joked that nobody would expect a phone call from Tony Leung. I complained that this has been such an emotional roller coaster. I felt like the whole experience is so surreal. I told him I think he is playing God by taking folks on such a roller coaster ride.
Tony had more than a couple drinks by now. He was very relaxed. He just laughed and tried to understand my frustration.
He said working on films is easy. Interviewing, touring, and meeting people are all hard work. But it's part of been an actor. It's his job to do it. He is not paid on this trip. The makeup artist and his assistants were on the payroll though. From our interaction, it's apparent that these folks are there to keep his company, to take good care of him, and to make sure he has a good time while on tour.
This makeup artist and I had an interesting conversation later on demystifying the role of movie star. Tony was sitting next to us, and taking it all in.
As you all can tell, I am surprisingly calm and collected. Tony had to trick me into taking pictures with him. Yes, it's hard to believe even as I am writing about it now.
He tricked me.
I wasn't going to ask for photographs since I thought that was kind of cheesy and I wasn't sure if I had the gut for it.
Somewhere in our conversation, he asked me about the cherry blossom in DC. He said it must be a beautiful time of the season. I got excited and told him how beautiful it is now in DC. I took out my digital camera and showed him the pictures I took at the national mall a few weeks ago.
There must be some kind of eye contacts going on between Tony and his makeup artist. After she saw the picture, she took the opportunity to ask me if I want to take picture with Tony. I was hesitant. (I know you girls will think I am crazy) Tony was like, "You should." I gave in and agreed.
Tony must be wondering about what's wrong with me. But...
I am kind of like him - he didn't have the guts to ask Lawrence Block for autograph. Partly I think he thinks autographs are so silly. This is not the way you remember people by. You remember people by having a good conversation with them, by feeling a connection with them, by sharing a memory. Although he does want to have something to remember Lawrence by, but he never asked. Maybe he too feels that autograph is not sufficient to remember people by. (Though I did see the pain and regret he had when he talked to us later).
As for me, I don't know if I will regret it now if Tony hasn't asked to take photos with me. Well, I luck out. Tony is more understanding than Lawrence Block. I am lucky I guess.
|The trouble I have is that I knew this man so well. I probably knew more about some obscure facts that he doesn't even remember. So what else is there to say when everything is known? |
I should take this back. While I was chatting with him, I felt I knew him so well, yet I knew nothing about him. It is the weirdest feeling of all.
We are practically strangers before we met. Yes, we met online, even exchanged email once, but that was so unreal. We don't know each other at all.
He repeated it's fate that we shall meet now.
I wonder if it's fate I meet with him after all these years. Tony first dropped by the site in 1999. He heard about it since 1998. On occasions, there will be fans who met online and went to visit him together. This site has always been a meeting place, a melting pot. Many people came and went. Some stayed and found friendship.
I told him that I enjoyed this part of the site - connecting people. He seemed to understand.
I don't even know how to describe it. He is someone I knew so well, yet I knew nothing about. Our meeting now seems like a dream, kind of far in the distance.
I am not sure why Tony wants to meet with me. But it did happen. I am extremely grateful for his time, especially the time he spent with News and Summertime. I would be very disappointed if News and Summertime went home empty-handed.
But overall, it's like something that wasn't supposed to happen, but it did.
I guess that's why I hope to see him again. Maybe when we saw each other again, the meeting might feel a bit more real.
When we parted on Friday night, he asked me if I will be there on Saturday with News and Summertime. I was like- of course I will.
He took comfort in knowing I will be there to introduce him to other fans.
That makes me feel special. I am very grateful for what I have received.
Even though I don't know him, I appreciate the attention and the effort he has putting into meeting me.
This is truly a happy ending!