Exclusive interview: Tsui Hark allow me to learn “I don’t mind”

Beware: Spoilers of Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame in this article…

It’s hard to imagine, having been in showbiz for 30 years and close to 130 films to his name, Andy had not been cast in any Tsui Hark films. When Tony Leung Kar Fai was interviewed a few years back, he also find it strange: “I also don’t understand why Andy Lau did not collaborate with Tsui Hark, I feel that Tsui Hark would bring some changes to Andy.” With regards to, one of the alleged reason was that “Andy Lau does not suit the characters in Tsui Hark films” ….

During the premiere and press conference of Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame, when asked this question, Andy quipped: “Actually when I entered showbiz 30 years ago, Tsui Hark told me that he would cast me in his 50th film.” Apparently, this is a helpless joke.

With regard to the reason, it’s not important now, in the summer of 2010, Andy wait for Tsui Hark is over, he is Detective Dee, the stylish, bravery and wits of James Bond. With Detective Dee, we could see the elegant transformation of Tsui Hark. Thus we can also said, Tsui Hark’s wait for Andy Lau is finally over.

ent.163.com (163): After so many years, why didn’t you collaborate with Tsui Hark?

Andy (A): Why? He didn’t approach me.

163: Really didn’t approached you?

A: He did approached me, but the schedule could not accommodate, I feel that it’s affinity, till now we have the chance.

163: So what made up this collaboration?

A: What made up this collaboration, it’s that I’m willing to be cast in his film, he’s also willing to approach me. Because in between there’s problem in our schedule, I told him that I’m only free for 2 months, can you do it? Actually he did approached me for Missing and All About Women, but I could not accommodate the time.

163: So did you read the script first or agree then read the script?

A: I agree then I read the script.

163: What’s your first impression after reading the script?

A: It’s unlike a period film.

163: Unlike a period film?

A: Yes.

163: What you think?

A: Many things are scientific, all the thoughts are modern. I think self-immolation too, it only happen in the modern world, the reason is unfounded. Thus putting it in a period film is rather special, I find it special when I watch it the first time.

163: You had watched the film already?

A: Yes, I’ve watched it.

163: After watching, you feel that it’s a wuxia film?

A: You can categorize it as a wuxia film, but it’s more than a normal wuxia film. Because most important in a wuxia film is loyalty and we can find it in this film. It’s not a historical film, then why many people feel that detective dee is in the Tang dynasty, and his outlook, actually we didn’t say that we are shooting the Tang dynasty because there is many foreign matters in there, foreigners and the Dutch appeared in China, thus there are more things that would happen during that dynasty. Therefore he’s not shooting a historical film but an interesting film thus set at that dynasty, which I feel is right.

163: You mentioned that there will be many foreigners, Carina Lau was wearing a western-style costume in one of the scene, everyone burst into laughter, had you seen it?

A: Maybe it’s stated in history books, it’s recorded in history that Empress Wu met Detective Dee once, only once. It was recorded that she dressed as a Tartars to meet him.

163: Dressed as?

A: Tartars, maybe I read the history thus I find it correct, she wore that way, or dressed like me, maybe I wore before, thus she had no choice. It’s written this way, nobody know how Tartars looked like, this is some information we found out. This film has a large space of imagination, very difficult. But the audience has the right to say these things, they are the one watching the film, we cannot disagree their opinions.

163: There are many out-of-this-world designs, buildings, what gave you the deepest impression?

A: Only one out of my imagination, that is the deer, the scene where I battle the deer, this is not within my imagination. Actually Bingbing encounter this before, she’s trying to talk to deer. When I was chatting with Tsui Hark, he asked me if I know that there are two deer on the roof of the temple, one on the right and one on the left? He asked me why the deer need to be there? I told him that I don’t know and asked him why? He told me that the deers are to protect the god and I’m fighting them. I asked again that I’m going to fight them? When we were shooting the scene, only 2 deer horns were fighting with me, I was wearing green costume while fighting them. I told the director in the face, will the animation be realistic, would it looked unreal? The audience would laugh if it looked unreal.

163: When I interviewed Tony Leung Kar Fai 18 months ago, he told me that he didn’t understand why Andy Lau did not collaborate with Tsui Hark, maybe there would be some changes, now you had collaborated with Tsui Hark, did you find any changes?

A: My biggest change is that he kept telling me some things, for example of my image, people would laugh at my goatee, after looking at Deng Chao, people would complain of his white hair, after seeing Empress Wu’s eye brow, people would be talking about it. He told me that I’m right, would I be afraid?

163: So are you afraid?

A: I would in the past, now I just let it go. I told me not to mind what others are saying, he told me that the dirst possibility is the 10% whom dislike, our job is for the majority and not the 10%. These 10% also watched your film, some they like, some they would scold you, it doesn’t matter, he has his own opinion, when you read the script you would also have your own opinion, why have to care of other’s opinion? Why you wanted me to accept and I cannot pick on you? I don’t mind, this is my biggest change. In the past when shooting Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon, during shooting I kept asking the director why I’m not wearing white, the cool director sat aside and said: “There’s the novel, it’s fake, I don’t believe a general will wear white and go to war.” He didn’t believe it and I said it’s impossible! The audience is the same. “What the audience said is according to their own angle, you need not think so much.”

A: I really cannot understand, now with so many, it seems that every person, every character would appear in the film, everybody would be asking, only Bingbing is better, but not everybody would give her good reviews, they said that she looked like Dong Fang Bu Bai. Now I feel better, in the past people commented that I used body double, during the shooting of first action scene, I refuse to use body double and wanted to do it on my own, people would scold me and not professional. Tsui Hark then told me that the scene is dangerous, if I could not continue after shooting this scene, what to do if we need to stop shooting? I didn’t say anything, I’m afraid. He tried to make me understand everyday, in the end, I feel that I did what I need to do is enough.

163: There’s one more question, everybody is discussing after watching the film, Detective Dee had some political requests in the film, is there any political thoughts in the film? Take for example Detective Dee changed his mindset and protect Empress Wu?

A: This is drawing a line between Detective Dee and Tony’s character – Sha Tuo. His first thought is the same as Detective Dee, woman should not become Emperor, he didn’t find out the reason of his revolve, he hope the country to be better? Detective Dee is the same as him as he does not wish Wu Zhetian to become emperor, but if you watched the film, you will know he’s shooting a memorial. In addition when Detective Dee is in prison, he was reading memorials everyday, this shows that he’s studying the country’s matters, he knew everything, he know how Wu Zhetian handled things.

163: After hearing this, we understand!

A: Correct, thus he knew no man could do better than her, he would then tell the old man: “Wu Zhetian would find me one day, I would go out one day.” Actually he expected it, he also told her when he was released that she should not become Emperor, if she need his help, what he can do to help? He has something in return. Till the end, everything settled, he still want an answer, that is not to worry that Detective Dee is not unhappy of her being the Emperor, I’ll address you as Emperor and do her best to govern the country, once she’s not Emperor, everything must be back to normal. He knew everything, like what he told Sha Tuo, he also told everything to Sha Tuo as he still can turn back. Because he think Sha Tuo is correct but he fall into his own trap.

163: Last question, we did discuss after watching the film, this Detective Dee is still Andy Lau as this character is too perfect. After giving it a thought, you won Best Actor twice, but you won the awards without a perfect character, so would you continue to take this perfect direction?

A: Let’s see, one film, I feel that it’s our responsibility, a responsibility of an actor. When I collected the script, I’ll do it perfect when the director wanted me to be perfect, this is not due to whether I can win an award, this is the requirement of the script, I will be what it wanted me to be. As you can see that my emotion does not match my performance, I once thought to act it more aggressive and the audience will enjoy watching, but it’s not the character of Detective Dee.

As per his friendship with Wu Zhetian, that kind of love, and the magical relationship with Jing-er. In addition, although he’s injured in the film, got bitten by Golden Turtle, he knew he would go the same path as die by self-immolation, but look at his expression, he’s back to his job. This type of expression is different from other characters. I feel that for a good actor, he should not care if he had attain his aim with the film, but rather if he’s suitable for the character, don’t act as he like.

163: Thank you.

A: Thank you.

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