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On-screen lovers unite
Publication Date : 10-10-2012
In Dangerous Liaisons, Cecilia Cheung plays a lacquered, cynical beauty plotting the deflowering of a former lover's teenage fiancee.
It seems a bit of a stretch for the Hong Kong actress, who is more sinned against than sinning in most of her movies, including Running On Karma (2003) and One Nite In Mongkok (2004).
But the 32-year-old gets so worked up speaking of her flawed character, Mo Jieyu, you wonder if she somehow sees herself in the story.
"I think she's pitiable, lonely and eager for true love," Cheung says in an interview in a suite in China World Tower in Beijing.
Her voice thick with conviction and her eyes shiny with tears, she adds: "Her methods might be wrong but it's okay to make mistakes. Learn from the mistake. That's important."
Cheung went through a public marital meltdown with actor Nicholas Tse, 32, last year, after a sex photo scandal with actor Edison Chen, 32, four years ago.
She and Tse share custody of their sons, Lucas, five, and Quintus, two.
Although her new film is not exactly family- friendly, she sees it as potential "educational material" for her boys.
"People may think, aren't you afraid Lucas and Quintus will think you're a bad woman?" she says.
"I'm not worried. When they grow up, I can watch the movie with them and explain it to them. Why does Mo Jieyu do this? Maybe it's because she's under a lot of pressure."
By her reckoning, Lucas will be ready to watch the film with her when he is 12 or 13.
He is already a fan of the 1997 romance Titanic, she says. "He's seen it more than eight times. He's learnt all the hero and heroine's lines in Titanic."
Next to the excitable Cheung at the interview, Korean actor Jang Dong Gun, 40, is calm and centred. He plays another of Mo's former lovers, womaniser Xie Yifan, in Dangerous Liaisons.
It is quite a departure for Jang, who has a wife, actress Ko So Young, 40, a two-year-old son and a wholesome image in South Korea. But he sounds unflappable as he speaks of how his role might look to his boy one day.
"Before, I really didn't take this into account," he says through a Korean-to-Mandarin translator. "But now I have a little bit of a concept."
He starts to laugh when a reporter asks in English whether his wife is okay with his love scenes. "In fact, I was worried," he says, but he adds that he hopes to take her to the premiere in their country.
Dangerous Liaisons is his second film in China. His first was the 2005 period fantasy The Promise, where he and Cheung also played lovers.
Working with him again, she admires him even more now, says Cheung.
On the set of The Promise, "every minute, every second, he was reading the script", and seven years later, on the set of Dangerous Liaisons, where he had a lot more lines in Mandarin, "he hadn't changed".
"No matter how cold the weather was and how long the hours were - more than 20 hours, 30 hours, for more than three months - I never saw him sleep one second on the set. He would be holding his script and learning all his lines," she says.
He was working so hard, she had to keep her distance.
"I didn't dare disturb him because I was afraid I would talk to him and he would forget the Mandarin lines," she adds. "I have known him for many years but this time, on the surface, it was as if we weren't familiar with each other."