Houston Community News >> Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi Both Natural Actresses

11/21/2006 -- Director Zhang Yimou says both Chinese movie stars Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi are passionate about acting and eager to do better, rebutting criticism that they are focused on advancing their personal fortunes. Asked to compare Chinese movie stars Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi, both of whom he worked with early in their careers, director Zhang Yimou said they were passionate about acting.

"I think they're both natural actresses ... For movies or characters they like, they can study them thoroughly even if they don't rest or eat. They like their work wholeheartedly," Zhang said in an interview published in the current edition of Hong Kong's City Entertainment magazine.

Gong Li (l) and Zhang Ziyi (r) Photo by Baidu.com

Zhang disputed criticism that the two actresses were focused on advancing their personal fortunes, saying despite their international fame, "they still hope to develop their acting."

Gong has worked with Zhang on movies like "Raise the Red Lantern," "Ju Dou," "To Live," and the director's 1987 debut, "Red Sorghum." Zhang Ziyi appeared in Zhang Yimou's "The Road Home," released in 1999.

Both have since moved on to Hollywood. They appeared together in "Memoirs of a Geisha," playing rival Japanese escort geishas. Gong has appeared in "Miami Vice," which is now being screened in Shanghai, and Zhang Ziyi in "Rush Hour 2."

Zhang Yimou recently reunited with Gong on "Curse of the Golden Flower," an ancient Chinese epic also featuring Chow Yun-fat and Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou.

Zhang said Gong has improved as an actress.

"Her pace and substance in acting is more mature, and she has an abundance of emotion. Now she will proactively discuss a script. She has her own opinion. I didn't see this before. She's more passionate when she faces challenges now," the veteran Chinese director said.

On Chou, Zhang said he was impressed with the pop star's display of emotion despite being a novice actor.

He said Chou was nervous acting alongside big stars Chow and Gong, but showed "very strong real emotion."

Zhang Yimou also confirmed he's interested in working with Jackie Chan, as well as Steven Spielberg, with whom he's collaborating on designing the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, but said no concrete plans have been made yet

(Contributed by Shanghai Daily)