Interview with Tony Leung 2046
Published in: Cinema Voice (Japan) on 2004
It’s been a long journey for this film. A long time to it. So will you talk about the journey that you had with this film and you comonating last night with showing and walking up the red steps and standing ovation from the audience.
Tony Leung(T): It’s a long story. From the very beginning when we first started shooting in Bangkok the first day…in the middle of the shooting in the “In The Mood For Love”. Because at that time I had to go to Japan to work on another project, we had to stop doing “In the Mood For Love” and Kar Wai start doing “2046″. At that time I did few scenes with Kimura, Japanese actor, and Faye Wong at that time my role was a postman in the futuristic world. After that few scenes I went to Japan and worked for another project. When I came back for the shooting was the year 2002. Kar Wai asked me to forget what we did before. (laughs) “Just forget everything” and we started to all over again. My part is, I played the same guy that I portrayed “In the Mood For Love” . But this time he wanted me to interpret the character like…just treat the character like a new character. I haven’t asked why. He might have reasons. So I said “O.k. the same character but different feeling, different interpretation. That’s a little bit difficult for me, because that character is quite deep inside me. With the same hair gel and the same costume and the same set in the 60′s, I think I will I go back to the character un consciously when I was doing a scene, because I got so much use to the character.” So I asked him “Can I have a mustache?” so that I can hold on to something and believe my self that I came back like a new man. I’m somebody else and a new man. But he said “It’s better not to have mustache. It will be more powerful and more stunning without a mustache.” and I said “No way, I can not do that. I need the mustache.” (laughs) and yeah finally we start shooting. At the very beginning we only started with, I started with Zhang Ziyi part and we knew nothing about our future part and we work with no scripts like what we did before. So we focused on Zhang Ziyipart and which is a social butterfly, women who flies and flirts and hang around with rich guys and she’s my neighbor, she lives in 2046. I stay in 2047. She appears to be very happy very fine, she has that appearance, but actually like my character she is just…we are just two lonely hearts with no one to celebrate in Christmas time. Afterwards we develop bizarre relationship. In the middle of the shooting SARS happened in Hong Kong and we had to stop for a while and Kar Waimoved on to work for his another movie “Eros”. We stopped for almost 5 months and after 5 months we worked on Zhang Ziyipart again. But it was really hard because you doing on and off and you have to go back to the character again. You have to recall lot of memories and need some more warm-ups. We spent few more weeks to warm up to make sure that we already get in to the character. And after we finished the part withZhang Ziyi, they went to Shanghai to do the futuristic part. At that time I knew I wasn’t in the futuristic part because I write the story of “2046″ and Kimura suppose to be me. So I don’t know what happened in Shanghai. I had no idea (laughs) and I was working for another movie. And after they came back, I knew that I still had to do something with Faye Wong.And she had some part in the 60′s, so another new story. O.k. fine, another new chapter for the movie and after Faye Wong, almost at the end of the movie, I was told that Gong Li was going to appear in the movie.(laughs)
Do you like working this without a script, not knowing anything?
T: I love to. But you need to trust the director very much. Like me and Kar Waiwe’ve been working together over 10 years and I know him very well and I trust him so much and I know he does very well. He loves all his actors, he’ll protect us, yeah I trust him so much. I think that is built on trust, so you can work without a script or even without a direction. There’s somehow quite frustrated to work on this way with no direction, no boundaries nothing to work on is sometimes insecure. What do you feel about this place?
You had standing ovation yesterday. What kind of impression do you have for Cannes? You won award several years ago.
T: I do have lot of good memories about Cannes. I remember the first time I came, we got standing ovation too with “Happy Together”. It was a great success that time too and Kar Wai won the prize of The Best Director. And second time we came, ” Flowers of Shanghai” of Hou Hsiao-hsien,the time was not that good. (laughs) When I came back with Kar Wai again with “In The Mood For Love”, I won The Best Actors prize it’s really (smiles) great! Yeah, it’s wonderful. It’s lucky place for me.
You are very driven actor, you work very hard as an ator.
T: Mmm. Not really.
Yeah, I can see, you work hard. You work hard.
T: Not as hard us Kar Wai. I think he…
He’s a director, he suppose to work hard. Some actors are lazy but you work hard. Tell me what’s your motto? What do you live by? What makes you such a driven actor?
T: I just love it. I just enjoy it. So, actually I’m a very lazy actor, I think. Really. But I don’t know why I was so…I work so hard on acting. Maybe because I really love it. I really love it from the bottom of my heart. I enjoy it very much or maybe because I don’t quite like the reality. I like to live in …a dream. So sometimes I think drama is a dream, movie is a dream. It’s something unreal, but the emotion is real.
So is that a key to your success?
T: I think so. Because I just love it. I just enjoy it.
Have you had any major difficulties in your career and couldn’t get a job?
T: Never. I’m very lucky. I started from TV and from my first TV episode it was a big success. And then two more big success and made me very famous in Hong Kong and in Asia city.
I heard you were very shy as a child. Shy boys don’t become actors.
T: Will. They will become actors. They won’t become singers. Because when you are actor, you can express your feelings behind someone. You can hide behind someone. No one knows that is you. They’ll think “Oh, he’s doing that character very well”. You can cry in front of people without being shy. Because no one knows that’s your emotion. They’ll think it’s someone else’s. So that’s the reason why when I first got into the acting school and after I learned acting I found my way to express myself without being shy, without being exposed myself in front of the audience. Because I can always hide behind someone. I can hide like this.
Are you still shy? You are?
T: Who I am is till who I am.
Did you work with Takuya Kimura? You don’t have any scenes with him right?
T: No, I don’t have any scenes with him. We do have some scenes at the very beginning when my role was a postman. But not anymore after I became the writer of “2046″ because he is me, he supposed to be me. So we won’t meet each other.
So you weren’t with him at all?
So you don’t even know him. You didn’t go out have beer or anything?
T: We don’t have a chance.
It’s work.Could you give a message to the viewers in Japan?
T: Hi I’m Tony Leung. My new movie is “2046″ and I hope you will like it. Thank you.
And I am a shy boy.