Home Movie Vault Disc Vault Coming Soon Articles About Us Contest Soundtrack Books eStore
Search MX >>   powered by FreeFind


Donnie Yen. Tony Leung. Nicholas Tse. Fan Bingbing. Wang Xueqi. Hu Jun. Eric Tsang. Simon Yam. Leon Lai. Jacky Cheung. Despite the fact that "Bodyguards and Assassins" was one of the most expensive Chinese films ever and destined to be a huge blockbuster, it wasn’t easy to assemble such an ensemble cast together for the film.

"Movie stars are reluctant to work in ensemble movies because they can get compared against each other," said producer Peter Chan. "Each actor is an individual enterprise so really the question was why would they want to be part of something that they could be compared against someone else?"

Chan added that to say 'yes' to a movie like this required a lot of trust on the actors’ part in both himself and Teddy Chen. "No matter how well they think they do on screen, there’s always a chance they could be cut out in the end, so it’s always a challenge to get actors to be part of an ensemble movie like this."

He stressed that it was important to make sure that trust is returned- though it isn’t always easy. "Sometimes it’s really hard to be fair to every actor. Movies are like a child in that it takes its own course as it develops. It becomes very organic. So the fact that there are so many actors and so many characters means that it’s very hard to be fair to everyone."

What certainly helped to win the actors and actresses’ trust was the film’s script, which director Teddy Chen described as "one of the best he has ever seen". Indeed, Teddy Chen said that the script in its current form had gone through over 1,000 changes during the ten years the film had been in production.

"It is a very complete script with very strong characters," said Chen. "So though there are many characters in the story, none of them are actually supporting roles. Each was just as fleshed out as the other and I think the actors all recognized this when they read it. The challenge to them was really how to give their best to whichever role they were playing."

Nevertheless, as Peter Chan revealed, it still took some persuasion before Donnie Yen came on board. "Donnie’s career was on the rise when we approached him to play this role so he’s very cautious about the roles he plays. And coming after last year’s "Ip Man", I think he was very careful that he wanted this role to be different from what he had played before."

To get Donnie Yen on board, Teddy Chen rewrote the script several times, particularly because Donnie’s role was in fact meant for someone else- which Peter Chan refused to reveal. But once he was on board, Chan praised Donnie Yen for being every bit a perfectionist. "Every time after we finished shooting a scene, he would want to take a look at the playback to see how he did. He was very motivated to excel," he said.

On the other hand, Tony Leung needed no such persuasion to be cast in the movie. After all, he had already agreed when Teddy Chen approached him ten years ago. But what he did need time to get over was whether he would be comfortable playing his current role in the movie- that of the newspaper editor Chen Shaobai who was good friends with revolutionary Sun Yat-Sen.

"Ten years ago when Teddy approached Tony to star in this film, he cast Tony as the baddie [now played by China actor Hu Jun],” said Peter Chan. "And when we told him ten years later who he wanted him to play, I could see that he stuttered. He was trying very hard to conceal it as an actor would but I could sense his surprise."

Eventually, Tony Leung was won over after reading the revised script and even gave his own ideas how to beef up his character. "I was more pressured than stressed when I was told that I would be playing a different character," said Leung who reportedly even went to the gym to tone up for his previous character.

But never did he once think of turning Teddy Chen down. "I had made a promise to him before that I would be part of this movie and I wanted to honour that promise to him," he said.

"If anything, the only thing I was afraid of starring in this movie was the expectations of the other stars’ fans. Look at them- you have Donnie Yen’s fans, Nicholas Tse’s fans, Leon Lai’s fans. I wouldn’t dare imagine what it would be like if I eventually let them down!"

Part One of our article: "A Labour of Love"

Bodyguards And Assassins opens 17 December 2009 and is reviewed here

Interview: Gabriel Chong
DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004- , movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.