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July 21, 2004

Zhang Ziyi Lands Lead Role in Memoirs of a Geisha!

— Posted by John Campea

zhangziyi.jpgThere was an awful lot of buzz around Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi following the release of Crouching Tiger, and for good reason – not only is she very, very easy on the eyes but she’s also a very gifted actress and physical performer. Tiger led to a key role in Rush Hour 2 and then, tired of being offered nothing but cliched roles, she simply opted out of the Hollywood machine and went back to making stellar films all throughout Asia. Well, for someone who has left Hollywood we’re certainly going to be seeing an awful lot of her in the next year … Not only does she star in the upcoming films Hero and The House of Flying Daggers, but Monkey Peaches is reporting that Ziyi has landed the coveted lead role in the Spielberg produced / Rob Marshall directed Memoirs of a Geisha. The film is due to start filming in September. Now all we need is for someone to get around to putting Musa on screens here …

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  • morbius

    Yes, I have seen the trailer Simone. Its quite impressive.

  • Simone

    The trailer is out, have you seen it Morbius?

  • Morbius

    I love Ziyi Zhang but I have complained on other forums about the casting in this film. Do Hollywood think a western audience cannot tell the difference between a Japanese and Chinese person? I don’t think so, Japanese features are very distinctive even to westerners like myself.

    I agree it’s a bit insulting. They are going for “Names” rather than appropriate actresses.

    But then I get worked up when they keep casting black actors to play white characters such as the Kingpin in Daredevil.

  • Yamiko

    I just saw the preview, and i must say, it seems like a very interesting movie. However…WHY THE HECK DID THEY PICK A CHINESE GIRL TO PLAY AN EXTREMELY JAPANESE ROLE??????

    Ok maybe I’m biased because I’m Japanese, but I think this is just an insult. Zhang is absolutely beautiful, but she should’nt have been the one to play Sayuri, because she DOES NOT LOOK JAPANESE. What, they can’t find any Japanese women to play the role? It’s ridiculous. How about Kyoko Fukada? Or Eriko Imai? They are both in their early twenties, speak fairly good English, and THEY’RE JAPANESE!!! I mean, if Zhang LOOKED Japanese, then fine she can play Sayuri. But she looks like the typical Chinese. Her skin tone and features are so different (though they may not seem that different to white people), that her wearing a kimono makes her look like a poser.

    I will still watch this movie, though. But the whole time, I’ll be like, she’s so Chinese………

  • Mell

    I think Zhang Ziyi is beautiful and sweet, but I think her beauty is different from japanese women, especially for Sayuri role. Sayuri has white skin too, but her face characteristic is realy different from Zhang Ziyi who is 100% Chinese. I think it is strange seeing a Chinese women play as a japanese geisha. Jeniffer Lopez look like a Mexican so it doesn’t matter she play a Mexican role. At least the actress who play Nitta Sayuri role has to look like a Japanese woman. People who can’t see the differences between white skin Chinese and white skin Japanese maybe don’t understand that seeing Ziyi play Sayuri would be like seeing a Chinese women wear yukata. You won’t get the artistic side of Japanese geisha at 100%, although Ziyi is a good dancer too.

  • Andre Bone

    I love Ziyi, but this role should be played by a Japanese actress.

  • Little brat

    Hey hey no discrimination!:P
    Why can’t a chinese actress play a japanese role?
    Takeshi Kaneshiro is Japanese and he had a chinese role in a chinese movies and I think he did a great job…
    Jenifffer lopez is not mexican but had a Mexican role in a movie wich made lots of Mexican mad…Jeniffer lopez portayed her role in Selena very well so it was acceptable anyway.

    I’m already glad they actually picked asians in that movie XD
    All these complainings bout Ziyi is stupid and mean >.

  • Akiyama

    I really don’t know what’s so bad about casting chinese women in a Japanese plot-based film. I am half chinese half japanese and i dont find this the least bit offensive. I simply adore Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, and to those who say that there aren’t any japanese main characters, you’ve forgotten about Ken Watanabe! His role is the chairman. Although, i have read the book, and it was a bit of a shame that they didn’t cast japanese women as the geishas, simply because the audience already know the chinese backround of Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh.

  • Caldoria

    I hear they have also cast Michelle Yeoh as Mameha. As both a huge fan of geisha and somewhat a fan of Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, I am actually extremely sad about this news. Zhang Ziyi did show quite a bit of grace in her role in The House of Flying Daggers, a sort of grace one might need to play a geisha. However, as person almost more exposed to Asian culture than my own, it is too strange for me to see two women who are very Chinese (and in a very, very good way) play geisha. It seems like the people who cast these women have no idea that Asians of different nationalities generally look different. For quite a few people, this may almost almost be like watching one of those old films that painted white people up to play Middle Eastern or Native Americans. Some of which are good films, but this adds an element of unintended silliness.
    I love these two women, they are beautiful and worthy of praise. The films I have seen them in have been wonderful (except any American ones…). But why did they not put Japanese actresses in very, very Japanese roles?

  • sunita

    Devon aoki would be a good choice she is a stunning half japanese model that is use to performining.Koyuki would be good too! Doesnt SAYURI HAVE GREY EYES how will they get past that?

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