Michelle Yeoh says 'lifetime opportunity' to play Suu Kyi

HONG KONG- Actor Michelle Yeoh said Friday playing the role of Aung San Suu Kyi in the "The Lady" was an opportunity of a lifetime, as the film about the Myanmar democracy leader made its debut in Hong Kong.
But the Hong Kong-based, Malaysian-born star refused to be drawn on the film's likely reception in Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, where Suu Kyi's recent release from house arrest has ignited the democracy movement.
"When I first heard that someone wants to make a movie about Aung San Suu Kyi, instinctively I knew as an actor that this is a role of a lifetime," the former Bond girl told reporters ahead of the film's Hong Kong premier.

"She is such a revered person, she is such a good human being (who) would be very inspirational for me not just as an actor but for my audience as well."
The 48-year-old star of films including "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" said the pressure of playing a Nobel Peace Prize winning icon of democratic struggle was a weight on her shoulders.
"Of course I was pressured, of course you feel a great sense of responsibility because of who she is and what she represents," Yeoh said.
"But I think what is important for me is my commitment not just to myself but to the profession that I love... This was truly an opportunity of a lifetime."
"The Lady" is a two-hour biopic that focuses on the private life of Suu Kyi, her late British husband, Michael Aris, and their two sons as she assumes the mantle of democracy leader in a country ruled by an iron-fisted junta.
Suu Kyi's struggle for her country came at a high personal cost. Her husband died in 1999 in Britain, and in the final stages of his battle with cancer the Myanmar junta denied him a visa to see his wife.
Suu Kyi refused to leave Myanmar to see him, certain she would never have been allowed to return.
While there is no scheduled release of the film in Myanmar, pirate copies of "The Lady" have flooded the streets of Yangon, which its French director Luc Besson described as an "excellent news".
"As an artist I'm always very happy even if it's through piracy that they can have access to culture, so obviously I'm really fine with that," he said.
But Besson said he hoped the recent signs of opening in Myanmar would see the film being officially released in the impoverished Asian nation.
"I'm even ready to give it for free... in Burma you know but the film is banned from Burma. They show a couple of signs of opening so I hope they will tolerate the film," he said.
"It's a wonderful film about Burmese people -- not so much the government but the people and I think any Burmese should be proud of the film," he added.
During the shoot, Yeoh met Suu Kyi at her Rangoon home in December 2010 weeks after the Nobel laureate was released from a seven-year house arrest.
The star was however deported and blacklisted when she tried to visit again in June last year.
Besson filmed the movie in Thailand near its border with Myanmar, as well as secretly in Myanmar itself, and used footage shot by pro-democracy activists.

Saturday, February 4th 2012

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