[INTERVIEW] Zhang Ziyi - Superstar from "Crouching Tiger"
- The many different faces of Zhang Ziyi
Innocent girl one moment and supreme diva the next, the star of a new
Visa card commercial shows that there is more than one facet to her
By Camilla Chiam
WHEN Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi stays at the President suite of the
Conrad Hotel, one expects an accompanying gaggle of agents,
publicists, hair and makeup people hovering nervously to tend to her
HEROINE ADDICT: How shall I save the world today? Zhang Ziyi
contemplates her role as a Hero-ine in a wool long-sleeved criss-
cross pullover from A/T at Takashimaya ($297), slacks are her own. --
Photos by ALAN LIM
She does not disappoint.
But the mood is relaxed as she sits around the suite's dining table
laughing and joking with hairstylist-turned-friend David Gan.
When asked to move to the living room for her interview, she hops
slowly over to the couch.
She looks around with an expression of childlike wonder. For a
moment, it looks as if she is re-enacting a scene from her debut
movie, The Road Home.
The 22-year-old actress was in town on Wednesday to promote her
latest Visa commercial which she stars with Mr 007, Pierce Brosnan.
'Pierce is interesting and easy to work with. I was very excited,'
she says in slow, halting English.
Every one in the room beams at her effort.
'This is my first time,' she explains of her maiden interview in
English, before bursting into laughter.
She started learning English in September last year. Even though the
language handicap is painfully obvious, she persists with gungho
confidence, like the tough onscreen characters she is used to playing.
But ask her about talk that she did not get along with co-star Maggie
Cheung on the set of the soon-to-be-released Hero and her reply (this
time in Mandarin) turns sharp.
'You actually believe the Hongkong bagua (tabloids)?' she asks
Then, switching back to public relations mode, the chisel-featured
porcelain beauty says in English: 'Maggie is nice and kind. I learn
when I see her work.'
Flashes of sweet smiles and doe-eyed gazes punctuate her pauses
TLC WANTED: After a hard day of battling villains, even heroines need
a little tender loving care. Black T-shirt ($139) from Apollonia at
Tyan Fashions in Ngee Ann City and a denim short skirt ($285) from
Pleine Sud at Tyan Fashions.
She turns philosophical when questions about her love life pop up.
'We cannot control life. I know what I want to eat for dinner but I
dare not even think what will happen tomorrow. I don't plan things,
who knows what will happen in five years?' she says in Mandarin.
Zhang, who professes to only cook instant noodles and dumplings, then
confesses she would like to get married and have children by 30.
But all such mushiness disappears when the interview ends and she
prepares for Sunday Life!'s photo shoot.
'It is cold,' she snaps, glaring at her assistant who scrambles to
turn up the thermostat.
Hairstylist Gan, who has been primping and combing her hair every 10
seconds for the last half an hour, commits a boo-boo when he leaves
her alone for 10 minutes to run an errand.
Fed up with several strands of hair which get in her way, she
commands her minder to 'go get him'.
While he is being sent for, the minutes tick by and she starts to
show increasing signs of boredom.
The same assistant puts on an upbeat Shania Twain CD.
But there is no appeasing her, it seems.
Click, click, click. Change, change, change. Half an hour later, the
scheduled shoot comes to an end.
The Chinese diva turns round and leaves the room without another word
with her publicist and Gan in tow .
She enters the suite's bedroom, turns off all the lights there and
goes to bed.
Her publicist creeps out five minutes later, closing the door handle
slowly and silently.
She looks visibly relieved.