What encouraged you to become an actor?
At first I didn't want to be an actor because my father is an actor. When I was a child, I never knew what he did. He was often out and I had no idea of where he was. When you're an actor, you can be away from home for two months. You see your family for a very short time and then head off again. At the beginning, I had no thoughts of becoming an actor. But once I shot my first film, I felt very comfortable with the film business, I loved the atmosphere, especially on sets. I immediately loved the way people all worked together. After the first film I went to a film company for a part-time job. I worked for them for two years. Then I graduated from high school. At that time, Edward Yang asked me to work on his next project.
You were very young when you first had a part in a movie. It was in 1991 and you were 14. What do you remember about that experience?
As I'd never learned how to act, Edward Yang gave us some acting classes. We had like 60 hours during a period of 3 or 4 months. We had very basic acting classes, we were taught how to move our bodies. But it was something completely different on the set. Fortunately, we knew each other very well and we had a lot of fun. At that time, I wasn’t still sure I wanted to be an actor. But I really loved some bits of it, especially playing characters I couldn't be in real life. But at that time I was very confused, I didn’t know who I was already as a person. It was very tough to kill the girl in the movie of Edward Yang. He wanted me to be that person. He wanted me to act using logical thinking and to read the script very well. He liked to discuss it with me. It was quite hard but I made a lot of friends on the set and I had the chance to act with my father, who played my dad in the movie. It was a great experience for me.
Then, you became a movie star thanks to your part in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, by Ang Lee. How did you get ready for that demanding role. What do you remember of the shooting of the movie, which was quite epic for everybody?
Hidden Dragon was my fourth movie. I knew who Ang Lee was but I didn’t know the film would become that big. I had to acquire many new skills before going on set. We trained a lot. Ang Lee loves to have practise collective living before the shoot and so we lived together for two months before we began. Every day, we had kung fu practice in the morning. Then we would discuss the script in the afternoon and in the evening, we would go horse riding or to do weights. I didn’t know how to ride a horse. I learned the very classic way. Before the beginning of the shooting of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we were in the desert for a month. We shot in a very desert place. We stayed a lot in guest houses. We lived with all the staff. We had like 30 cars moving at the same time from one place to one another. There were no roads and one night, a car got lost.