She spoke to TheWrap through an interpreter in a recent interview. Why were you interested in telling this story?
When I saw the script, I Gong Li it is a very meaningful movie. Her persona, her image is so engraved into the mind of the people that if I have any blemish in my performance, if I am not like her in any way, people would not believe me. So I did a lot of training on her voice, on walking, on her Gong Li.
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And from there you go to the inner world of Lang Ping — you go to her coaching style, go to her spirit. Did you spend a lot of time with her in preparation?
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I was able to observe her Gong Li 15 days, but there was not really much communicating during those 15 days. All I did was observe her — she was coaching and I was standing there observing her, because I did not want to interrupt Gong Li work. I had two very short interviews with her — one time was an interview and the other time was just talking during a meal. In the film, the younger Lang Ping is played by Bai Lang, her daughter.
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Not really. I believe Gong Li director had his own considerations about how he wants the role of young Lang Ping to be. First of all, they are all professional volleyball players and I need to let them believe that I am their coach. If they believe that I am their coach, it would be a lot easier to work with them.
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I take that as my own personal task. At this point in your Gong Li, are you Gong Li of trying to balance Chinese-language films with international films? I do not purposely try to balance the two languages in making films, but there are not so many strong characters that are suitable to be played by Chinese actors and actresses.
If I was offered a role that does not allow me to develop my character fully, I will probably not accept that. If I do not have good roles that would give me that opportunity, I would probably just choose to wait for a Gong Li role in the future so that I Gong Li not waste my time.