'Lust, Caution' star Tang looks for chemistry on the set
For the "Lust, Caution" star, it is the people she works with on a film set and the chemistry with them that counts.
Tang shot to international fame with her role in Ang Lee's 2007 spy thriller set in the World War II era, which won the Venice Film Festival's best film award. She played a Chinese student recruited to seduce a Japanese-allied Chinese official as part of an assassination plot. The film is still Tang's best known work outside Asia.
Asked about the roles she would like to play in the future, Tang said Saturday that her job is not about the role, but about the people and the conversations with them.
"For me in this job, in this work, it's more about who you are working with. It's nothing about what you're working on," she said. "It's the people, and the conversations, and also the chemistry that's more important for me."
It should be no surprise that those conversations and the chemistry on a film set helped her find her love. Tang met her husband, South Korean director Kim Tae-yong, on the set of Kim's romance drama "Late Autumn" in 2010. Last year, they wed in a small ceremony at the late legendary director Ingmar Bergman's island home in Sweden.
This year's Busan International Film Festival is screening three movies featuring Tang, including Johnnie To's musical "Office," where she plays a bespectacled, hard-working office lady. She also played a female lead in "A Tale of Three Cities" directed by Mabel Cheung and appears in epic fantasy movie "Monster Hunt," which has been setting box office records in China since hitting theaters in July.
Tang had a three-year hiatus after filming "Lust, Caution," attributed to the political sensitivity of the traitor role she played in the movie, reportedly landing her on Chinese film officials' blacklist for three years. But in the past five years, she has been frequently spotted on screens in Asia from theaters to TV ads.
Her latest movie, "Office," is the first musical by the Hong Kong action master To about love and conspiracies at a Hong Kong company set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis.
Tang said it was the right direction for her, with great chemistry.
"This is the dream crew for me. The whole crew, everybody is a master," she said.
Filming with veteran Asian screen stars Sylvia Chang and Chow Yun-fat made her feel like "a little vegetable bird," Tang said with giggles, a literal translation for a Chinese word meaning rookie.
One thing she misses from the set is the smell of cigars, she said, bursting out laughing. To is a habitual cigar smoker.
"When you smell, oh cigar smell is coming," she said, "oh then (you know) the director is coming."