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Interviews with Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh from "Memoirs of a Geisha"

"Memoirs of a Geisha" Hollywood Premiere Coverage


Interviews with Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh from

Ziyi Zhang at the Hollywood Premiere of "Memoirs of a Geisha"

© Richard Chavez
The Hollywood Premiere of "Memoirs of a Geisha" was one of the most elegant premieres of 2005. The stars of the film looked absolutely beautiful (even the men) and the realistic looking Japanese cherry trees lining the red carpet set up in front of the Kodak Theater helped set the tone for the evening's gala special event.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" stars Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh graciously answered a few questions about their work on the film before taking in the screening:

Ziyi Zhang on Learning to Play a Geisha and Her Attraction to the Character, Sayuri: "I think for me it’s not too hard to learn those things. I know [that] how many hours you spend you could get it. But I think the hardest thing is, because my character, you have to hold all of her emotions back. Sometimes I wanted to cry out but I couldn’t. I have to hold it in. That was really hard and many scenes after they checked the gate and Rob was happy, I just went to the corner and just let it out. That was really tough."

Ziyi Zhang on Leaving Sayuri Behind at the End of the Day: "That was really hard. It never happened before but this time I was just totally just stick in the character. I remember the last day when Rob said, ‘That’s a day for Zi,’ and I really wanted to say something but I couldn’t. At the moment, I felt I was lost. I didn’t know about tomorrow, where I’m going to. I finished my part and I didn’t want that to happen."

Michelle Yeoh Talks About the Many Languages on the Set of "Memoirs of a Geisha:" "It’s fun. It wasn’t as crazy as it got because I’m very fortunate in the sense that I speak Mandarin so I was able to converse with Zi and Gong Li. And then I know a little bit of Japanese because I had worked with Hiroyuki Sanada before and, you know, so I know the odd words here and there. I’ve always been so fascinated by the culture so there is a great understanding. And Cary [Tagawa] and Ken [Watanabe] and Koji [Yakusho], they’re just such amazing actors to work with. By the end of it, we would sometimes wonder what language are we speaking in because we already understood what we were trying to say (laughing)."

Michelle Yeoh on the Costumes: "It was necessary for the character because every time that you put it on, you were reminded of what you were trying to portray. They were so beautiful."

Ziyi Zhang on the Physical Aspects of Playing a Geisha: "I had to learn how to become a convincing geisha. You know, we only had six weeks and we had to learn how to walk, how to bow, how to pour the tea, and to do all the same subtle gestures. And for me, I had a few dance scenes so I had to learn to dance in the 12 inch platform shoes."

Ziyi Zhang Compliments Her "Memoirs of a Geisha" Director Rob Marshall: "He’s great, really. I can see that he’s someone that everyone would fall in love with. He’s just such a genius. He knows everything. He’s not a geisha but he knows everything (laughing)."

Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, and Youki Kudoh Interview Video from the Hollywood Premiere of "Memoirs of a Geisha" - Play the Video

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