Ten years later he attended the Tokyo International Film Festival for the screening of The GrandmasterTony Leung returned to the festival on Thursday to lead a masterclass.
The Hong Kong acting icon, dressed in a black tailored suit and fashionable Kolor sneakers, was greeted with warm applause from a packed house at Hulic Hall in Tokyo. Festival programmer Shozo Ichiyama began with Leung’s early years as an actor, particularly his work with Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien on the classic A city of sadnesswhich Ichiyama considered one of his personal favorites. A city of sadness was notable because it is set in Taipei and Leung had no experience of working outside Hong Kong at the time and did not speak Mandarin.
“It was the beginning of my career and I wanted to challenge myself,” Leung said through an interpreter about why he accepted the role given his language limitations and lack of experience. “At that time, I wasn’t familiar with Taiwan’s history, so I had to learn about it. I read a lot of books to prepare,” he said.
“I don’t speak Taiwanese, that’s why the director created this character [who couldn’t speak]Leung added. He said Hou had an artist friend who lived outside Taipei and lost the ability to speak due to an accident. “I learned a lot from this artist in terms of acting,” revealed Leung, paying particular attention to the artist’s facial expressions, gestures and posture. “I wanted to put myself in a very isolated environment – I wanted to know what the world was like for someone who couldn’t speak.”
These early experiences continue A city of sadness were important to Leung as they shaped the way he prepared for roles, and he thanked Hou for giving him some of the tools he still uses. “With acting, I tried to put pressure on myself and read a lot of books. This is how my love for literature developed. I made many discoveries about how to portray the character. My understanding became very deep,” he said.
During this time, Leung also learned some valuable lessons in naturalistic acting, for which he is known today. “Another blessing [on this project] was that a lot of amateur actors worked on it. I was really surprised as they showed a lot of great acting. I started to doubt my own abilities,” he added. “I wanted to know how I could appear more natural and realistic in my acting. This film had a huge impact on my acting career.”
Ichiyama asked Leung if Hou’s direction had a significant impact on his performance, especially since he was a young actor in a foreign environment. Leung joked that Hou was so busy that he didn’t care that much about his performance and left it to him to figure it out. “Maybe that was good, but it was also difficult!”
Faye Wong and Tony Leung in Wong Kar-wai’s Everett Collection “2046.”
The conversation moved on to Leung’s long and fruitful professional relationship with Hong Kong author Wong Kar-wai. In total, the duo collaborated on seven films over a period of almost thirty years, including classics of world cinema such as: Chungking Express, In the mood for love And 2046the last of these was shown before the master class.
Leung was asked how his relationship with Wong began and what made it so enduring and successful. “When I first met him, I was kind of stuck in my acting, didn’t know what to do, and my acting wasn’t getting any better,” he said.
Leung spoke about first collaborating with Wong in the 1990s Wilderness days, a film also notable for the fact that the director worked for the first time with cinematographer Christopher Doyle. He talked about working on a scene with Maggie Cheung and how she nailed her scene in just a few takes. “[Wong] He watched my acting and probably immediately knew what was wrong with my acting. We did 10 to 20 takes of my scenes. I thought, maybe I’m not good at acting,” Leung said. “[Wong] said you have a lot of technology, a lot of things that are just made up. He told me not to use it, but to disassemble everything.”
The actor added that when he saw the finished film, he realized that Wong had the talent to bring out the best in his actors and that this made Leung want to work with him continuously. After working with Wong on two to three films, Leung began to get a feel for what the filmmaker was up to, and that experience proved to be what he described as his second acting education.
“When I did A city of sadnessI had a wish: How can I look as natural as the amateurs? By working with Wong, I was able to make this dream a reality. Now I could do the kind of acting I wanted to do.”
Tony Leung and Faye Wong in Wong Kar-wai’s “Chunking Express” Everett Collection
Ichiyama asked Leung about Wong’s method of working without scripts, which has become an industry legend. Leung said that while Wong has scripts, he joked that “he doesn’t show up [them] to us!” “All the actors know the story and know what their character is,” Leung explained in more detail. “[Wong] would provide a clear direction, but we didn’t know how the story developed and where it went. That’s his unique way of working.”
“[Wong] wants to create a lot of leeway on set,” Leung added. “He may have a script, but he wants to think about what the actors, the camera and other things on set are like at the moment. He wanted that leeway. If we have too much information, we have to do a lot of preparation, and he didn’t want that.”
Leung was then asked about his work 2046in particular, and how his character as Chow developed from it In the mood for love. “ is a special job for me. The character I played In the mood for love is the same, but [Wong] wanted me to demonstrate other skills 2046. So Chow has a different lifestyle. I wanted a mustache and Wong said I couldn’t. But I really needed that mustache to portray another character. In Cannes, after the premiere there, he came to me and said: ‘It would be better if you had the moustache.’”
Ichiyama then asked Leung about his latest work, which included the Hollywood blockbuster. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringsand whether this is a sign of the actor’s greater willingness to work on international productions.
“I’m always interested in working in a lot of different places,” Leung said, hinting that he would like to work on a Japanese project if the right thing came along. “I want to work in Europe, and next year I will work on a project in Germany,” he said, alluding to Ildikó Enyedi’s but not naming it Silent friend that he really wants to play. “I prepared for eight months [for this project]and read a lot of books.”
Source : www.hollywoodreporter.com