Monday, February 01, 2010

Up close with Zhou Xun

CNN’s Talk Asia joins Zhou Xun (pic), one of China’s leading actresses who is on the Forbes list of “powerful Chinese celebrities”, in Shanghai and for the premiere of her new movie Confucius in Hong Kong.

The 35-year-old CineAsia “Star of the Year” is in two much-awaited movies out this year – a biopic on philosopher Confucius and Yuen Woo Ping’s action flick True Legend.

Zhou’s ability to pull off various roles makes her a favourite with Chinese directors, but she has never had formal acting training. “I was born in a very small town outside of Hangzhou and even though there was a cinema in our town, movies still seemed very far away to me. I didn’t know the production process at all, so I never expected to become an actress.”

The young Zhou was always interested in singing and dancing, and was once enrolled at a dance academy. She got into acting when a director spotted her at the dance academy.

When asked for her take on the Chinese govern­­­­ment’s infamous censorship of the film industry, the veteran of 18 years shrugs off the sensitive subject.

“Being an actress in China is actually no different from being an actress elsewhere. It all comes down to being a good person, and acting responsibly.”

On actress Tang Wei who was banned from working on the mainland for three years as a result of her onscreen nudity in Lust, Caution, Zhou says: “I think you don’t really worry about all those things before shooting. ... But I don’t think I can ever be completely unclothed in front of the camera.”

Zhou was brought into the spotlight with her roles in Suzhou River, Perhaps Love and The Banquet. She was appointed by the United Nations as its first national goodwill ambassador with a special focus on the environment.

“I think the Chinese government is very determined to change environmental conditions in China. This is a not a movie. This is a real threat, ” says Zhou.

The actress also discusses with Talk Asia host Anjali Rao her constant efforts to keep her private life private.

“This is what I’m trying hard to adjust to because I don’t like being followed when I’m not working. But I can’t do anything about it. So I try not to let it bother me too much.

“But this adjustment process takes quite a long time and this type of paparazzi culture in China is getting more severe as well.”

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