We were on those clogs and we would glide across those cobblestones. I remember a time when I had to do it. It was the scene where I was going to negotiate for Sayuri's apprenticeship. I was there and gliding. According to Rob [Marshall the director]. I was to glide across the snow, this lone figure. I looked at him and said, 'You put these on and you glide. How does that happen?' [Laughing] When you have the snow and then the cobblestones on top of that, you just don't know where the potholes are. After a while I did master it, and you seemed to float on top of it. It was weeks and months of practice and training that got us through it.
Michelle Yeoh on the Challenges of Bringing the World of a Geisha to the Screen: I think that it definitely proved to be a great challenge because we had to do it as if it was effortless, and they weren't simple rituals either. You think, 'Oh, I'm just picking up a cup. How difficult can that be?' But it's the way you place your fingers, where it is, how you put your hand there. How you lift it up has its own movement and its own grace to it and we had to learn it all.
I think that as an actor when you're approaching a character like that that has a certain background, you have to throw yourself into that so that it becomes second nature to you. Its the little gestures, the little tilts, the movements, the posture. When you wear the kimono once with the shoes, you are very tall because you have no choice. You're right up there, and with those heels have you seen those slippers? Ziyi and I would pumping each other up, going, 'Okay, girl. Don't fall.' And the streets were cobblestones. You think, 'Why? Who invented these shoes?' Probably a guy.
Michelle Yeoh on the Responsibility of Taking on a Role in Memoirs of a Geisha: Yeoh sums up the experience as scary. I think that it was for all of us because it felt like we had a big, huge responsibility because I think that this is the first time for an all Asian cast on a movie this size. It seems like it's all on us to make this work.
I think that American audiences are ready for Asian culture full blast. Since 'Crouching Tiger' they've been ready. They've been taking it in and taking it in and waiting for someone to say, 'Hey, lets just do it all the way.' And now we've done it. So when we were sitting there it was very gratifying.
The first day when we had our roundtable where everyone, all the producers, Rob Marshall, the entire cast and the rest of us all just sitting there and looking at each other going, 'We are the best, aren't we? We're here.' After that it was like we worked together and all bonded. When you come together for a film like this you have to bond, you have to gel, because that's what makes the film work. It's not about you trying to make your character work. This is a movie that needs all the characters to come together to make the whole movie worthwhile.
Michelle Yeoh on Rob Marshall as a Director: Oh, he's exquisite. He thinks that we're exquisite. We think the world of him. One reason that I desperately wanted to do this movie was because he was going to be the director. I think that the director is the soul of a film. He's the one that puts all the bits and pieces and together. He's the one that breathes life into the script and weaves the magic around his cast. You can have the most amazing actors, but if you don't have a director that can draw it out of you and have you give him what he wants, it's hard. He was very clear about that.
Sometimes I'd laugh at him and say, 'You know what? You're the Mameha. I'm not the Mameha.' It was like he was always in control. He was always there. Even when things were falling around him, he was calm. He was clear. The vision was there and he was relentless. He had his dream and he had his goal and he would make each one of us give it to him. He was always so nice about it.
He always gave us the time and listened to what we had to say. And you know what we actors are like. 'But why would I do that? I think that I could do this.' It's that continuously, and try to do things like that different. He would say, 'Yes. You would do that. But then just think about how this is Mameha and this is what I need from Mameha and Sayuri. And this is what she would do.' So it was us going back and understanding Rob Marshall's vision of Mameha, because this is Rob Marshall's vision of 'Memoirs of a Geisha.'