updated 26 Mar 2013, 09:12
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Thu, Mar 21, 2013
China Daily/ANN
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Tang Wei, she's no Barbie
by Liu Wei

Tang Wei is one of the few young Chinese actresses who manages to be both popular and keep a low profile. She is a household name, largely thanks to her 2007 big screen debut in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. But while the Golden Lion-winning film brought the then 28-year-old fame, she did not bask in the glow.

The film's nude scenes and the political issues raised instead led her to fade away from the spotlight for a year. The Central Academy of Drama graduate visited London and honed her dramatic skills further. She took two courses on theatre, auditioned for a number of plays and got a role in Shakespeare's Henry V.

On her return to China she acted in five films, but seldom promoted them. She has no micro blog or obvious Web presence, yet still her every move is watched. Video clips of her English speech at an awards ceremony in South Korea and her English interview promoting the 2011 martial arts movie Dragon in Cannes, were widely viewed online.

Passersby steal pictures of the star in bookstores, small restaurants and at the theatre and post them on the Internet. While her fans praise her mystery and grace, the critics say she is just a product of successful "hunger marketing".

"Stars are like Barbies," the 34-year-old says, dressed casually in a white silk shirt and deep blue slim jeans, before complaining about the 10-cm high heels. "I still can't get used to them."

"People make up their perceptions of a star, just like they put makeup on a Barbie. The 'star' Tang Wei, is there," she says with a smile, pointing to the ceiling. "She has nothing to do with the real me."


The gift you want most?

I wish I could understand a language after listening to it, not only those of people, but also those of animals and extraterrestrials. I believe I can bring a lot more to the world if I could use any language I listen to.

What would you do if you weren't an actress?

Maybe I would open a noodle shop and make it cozy and comfortable for everyone. Many girls dream of opening a bookstore, cafe, restaurant or flower store, and I share the dream, too.

If you could take one book to an island, which would it be?

I would take one about religion. Only a strong faith can sustain you on an isolated island, and religion has this power for you to believe, to read it again and again.

If you could talk to a former great in your industry, who would you choose and why?

I would say Charlie Chaplin at this moment, because I deeply felt how difficult comedy is when acting in Finding Mr. Right. An actor needs to be born with a certain gift to do comedy, which I don't have now. I would want to ask him what he has been through, or just stand beside him for a while to see what his world is like.

What do you appreciate most in a man?

Concentration, something I lack now. Men who give full attention to what they are doing, however trivial, is charming and wise to me. I think so, what do you think?

If you could change one thing about your looks or character, what would it be?

What I have been trying to do is to concentrate. I find it hard. In this era when information is so fast and enormous, young people don't concentrate, and this is intolerable in acting. I hope one day I can fully focus on the thing I am doing, be it acting, an interview, or life.

Of what are you proudest?

Every step I have taken was my own choice. I have not done anything that I regret as of now. I am very glad that I have followed the voice at the bottom of my heart, never in a hurry, or delaying. I feel inner peace, which brings inner peace to people around me, too. I am proud of being independent and relying on myself.


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