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Crossing paths with Superstar Zhang Ziyi

Weekender catches the charismatic actress before The Crossing’s premiere in Singapore

Zhang Ziyi was bright and spritely at the press conference for The Crossing in Singapore

Just as rumours are sparking about actress Zhang Ziyi’s love life, she appears in a suspenseful romantic war movie.

The Crossing – which also stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Huang Xiaoming, Song Hye Kyo, and Tong Dawei as Zhang’s counterpart – follows three intertwining love stories during the 1945 Chinese civil war. Zhang plays Yu Zhen, an impoverished nurse struggling to reunite with her soldier lover.

It is headed by acclaimed director John Woo, who is also behind film classics like A Better Tomorrow (1986) and Red Cliff (2008). The Crossing was brought to town as a centrepiece of the Singapore International Film Festival.

Weekender sat at the press conference for The Crossing to find out more about Zhang’s feelings about the film, life, and love.

Tong Dawei (left) plays soldier Tong Da Qing, who falls in love with Yu Zhen (right, Zhang Ziyi)

What made you decide to accept this role?

When I read the script, I was very moved by it. The characters are so vivid and authentic. Also, like many of us in the industry, I wanted the opportunity to work with director John Woo (again).

The roles I choose always have a stubborn side – that’s what I like! When a character has a very strong personality, she has already crafted out her own part in the film. Yu Zhen isn’t a simple character – she has a very cruel life, but also a persevering spirit.

Director John Woo (left) has a unique way of directing films, such as baring the script of stage directions

How did you prepare for your role in such an emotional film?

Woo’s techniques are very special, and so the film gave us a unique setting that one has no way of preparing for. A lot of these emotions and chemistry must be felt in the moment when filming, sparked between the actors on set, not through stage directions.

For example, once we get the costumes and make-up done and we’re surrounded by such an elaborate scene, the genuine emotions will start pouring in – and these emotions cannot be prepared beforehand.

Zhang plays struggling nurse Yu Zhen, who must turn to dire measures for survival

How do you relate to Yu Zhen’s plight in The Crossing?

I think life is very unpredictable – a lot of happiness and sadness arrives when you’re not expecting it. No other roles have affected me so much as this one – it made me feel as frustrated as her.

Dawei’s character and mine are just little people, living and growing in the city like wild grass. I feel very fortunate, compared to my character in the film.

The movie’s a lot about romance – how is your own romantic life with Wang Feng?

Actually, unlike what the media has reported, I’m not pushing for marriage or anything! I believe that living and loving has to be carefree and natural. It’s impossible to plan for everything, especially for matters of the heart.

You can never know what will happen tomorrow. I think relationships should be about mutual trust and understanding, and giving each other space.

Zhang with her co-star Tong at the press conference

How do you feel about being a part of the Singapore International Film Festival?

This is my second time here for the Singapore International Film Festival, and it always feels great to be back. For The Crossing, everyone put in their best and we overcame many challenges to finally complete the film.

This may only be the first part, but please look forward patiently for Part 2!

From left: John Woo, Zhang Ziyi, Tong Dawei, Woo’s daughter Angelese Woo, and Marina Bay Sands President and CEO George Tanasijevich

We can’t wait! Could you give us some hints about what happens to your character in the next part?

I really can’t say, because we don’t know how the director will edit it! [laughs]


The Crossing premiers in Singapore tomorrow (5 Dec), with a rating of NC16.