updated 19 Jun 2010, 08:55
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Wed, Mar 03, 2010
The Daily Chilli
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Song out, Fan in for new movie

THE casting choices for Chen Kaige's latest film has got people talking.

And it is not just because of the big names involved.

All eyes were on the director after he survived taunts and ridicule for 2005's Promise and made a triumphant return last year with Forever Enthralled.

Chen turned to famous Chinese play Zhao Shi Gu Er (The Orphan of Zhao) for his next project.

Set against the backdrop of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), it is a gripping revenge tale which is often likened to William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Casting-wise, the director, famed for his masterpiece,Farewell My Concubine 17 years ago, did not let us down.

His latest outing boasts of a star-studded line-up comprising the biggest and most sought-after names in Mandarin showbiz.

Among them are Ge You and Wang Xiaoming. Wang Xueqi, who won acclaim for his moving portrayal in action spectacular Bodyguards and Assassins, was also roped in.

As for the female lead, the director's choice was Korean superstar Song Hye Kyo, until the latter's management claimed that she never got the offer and had not even met Chen.

To add insult to injury, the management even hinted that this was a publicity stunt by the film crew.

This enraged the distributor for the film, Stellar Pictures. Its chairman Qin Hong hit back right away, saying that it was the actress who approached them in the first place.

"She had more than once expressed her desire to play the role. That's why Chen agreed to see her," he said, adding that the collaboration did not happen because both sides could not see eye to eye on some terms in the contract."

"How could she claim that she has never met the director? Or have we met her clone instead?"

When asked what differences they had regarding the contract, Qin replied, "She's too big a star, we can't please her."

Meanwhile, it was suggested that Song's management had made the statements in an attempt to save face when the collaboration did not work out as planned.

Earlier on, Korean media had reported that the actress had gone to great lengths - including making several trips to Beijing - to land the part.

The role now goes to Fan Bingbing.

Meanwhile, another A-lister has confimed to join the cast. Zhang Fengyi, which starred in Farewell My Concubine, will be playing one of the main characters.

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