The truth about Tony Leung + CYF casting

Hong Kong star Tony Leung Chiu Wai will return to the entourage of war epic “The Battle of Red Cliff” to star as Zhou Yu.

It seems the story behind John Woo’s new big budget epic, “The Battle of Red Cliff,” is as flexible as the movie itself. Less than a week after it started shooting, it experienced the drop-out of big star Chow Yun-fat. Now, another big star, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, has returned. Tony Leung has agreed to return to the movie. This time, the actor will star as Zhou Yu instead of the role of Zhu Geliang, which he quit before.

The film producer Zhang Jiazheng said the return of Tony Leung made them excited. They are now expecting him for the upcoming cooperation, though a formal contract has not yet been signed.

Shi Dongming from the entourage said the return of Leung wouldn’t affect the original decision.

Shi says that Zhou Yu and Zhu Geliang are the two eye-catching characters in the movie. In the famous legend, Zhu Geliang was a brilliant military strategist in the ancient Three Kingdoms period, while Zhu Yu was an excellent general for his opponent. In the screenplay, there are many plots to narrate their relationship.

Below is an insider’s information:

1. In connection with my work, I experienced the whole process of casting adjustment of <The Battle of Red Cliff>. The reason I am writing this is not to disclose insider information, but to share my feeling.

2. In the initial stage, John Woo already determined to invite Chow Yun Fat and Tony, his two favourite casts, to work on the project. The movie was set with two lead characters – Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang, with Zhou’s role slightly heavier than Zhuge. Both Chow and Tony wanted to be Zhou. As Chow insisted, Tony agreed to take up Zhuge. When the first edition of the script was out, it was passed to Chow and Tony. Tony prepared his role based on that script. Chow had a lot of comments, intentionally or not, as a result of Chow’s comments, Zhou’s character is more substantial than Zhuge in the revised script. John Woo had to call Tony to explain the change. Frankly, Tony didn’t like the change, but considering this is a team work, he reluctantly accepted. And he also started his filming of <Lust, Caution>.

3. After <Lust, Caution>, Tony returned to HK and received the final script. This time the script was significantly revised according to Chow’s comments. It was just a month from the shooting, and Tony just finished a very exhaustive role, with the gossips on Carina and the Taiwanese businessman under the spotlight. Timing wise, physically, or emotionally, Tony is not ready to prepare the new role. Considering that he needs to be responsible to the team and to himself, he resigned.

4. @Afterwards, Chow was axed because of his high demand. In fact, from the beginning, the investors already considered Chow’s price too high, with too much conditions. John insisted to have Chow. In the end, Tony’s resignation and the introduction of Takeshi magnified the problem of age difference between Zhou and Zhuge, and became the catalyst to the change of cast. Fairly speaking, actors are free to set their terms, directors have the right to use the actors they prefer, and investors are free to consider whether an actor is of good value. It’s just business, there is no right or wrong. One cannot say that if a deal falls apart, someone must be unfaithful. Woo, however, is now set on Takeshi as he believes Takeshi is a very strong actor who is very good with his display of emotions.

5. After Chow being axed, investors recommended their own artists to take up the role. Many peeople want the role, but John Woo resisted all the pressure and insisted to have Tony. He even said if there is no Chow or Tony, there is no point for him to direct the film. Tony, who’s had a 20 year friendship with Woo has accepted when hearing about the recent blow to the film. John Woo really wants to work with the actor he really admires, and to finish a great project together.

6. Actually, the script they now intend to work on is the first script which Tony has prepared, but opposed by Chow. Hence, Tony is the one who is most familar with the role of Zhou. (It’s Tony’s general practice that when preparing his own role, he also prepared other major roles. In TVB days, it was common that he reminded his partners when they forgot their lines.) People on the web who doubted how come Tony is now ready for the role of Zhou, given that he claimed lack of time to prepare the role of Zhuge as the reason to quit earlier, don’t know the details.

7. Tony is under great pressure now. Once he accepted the role, it’s difficult to get rid of the accusation of a fight for the role. He once thought of taking up the role of Zhuge again to avoid the accusation, but Takehsi is not familiar with the role of Zhou. Tony is a kind man, from the beginning when he received the ever changing script, to quitting the role of Zhuge, to the rough period now, he suffered a lot, but Tony never said a word. Chow is a senior he respected, he would rather to be the one being accused, than speaking behind others’ back. When there was dispute, he chose to retreat and endure. Media’s misunderstanding, whether concerning his personal life or career, he chose tolerance and silence. He is not weak, he just doesn’t want to waste time and energy on unnecessary disputes. But he is not a saint, he cannot do something which is only beneficial to others, but not himself.

8. 100 million people have 100 million Zhou. You, as the audience may not think Tony is suitable for the role, but I and Woo think he is. The most important thing is the investors and the director think he is. If you like it, fine. If not, simply don’t watch the movie. It is not necessary to curse him.

9. And for those who concerned too much about Tony being hurt, just like someone said in Springlight: Man’s life is to face the storm and build his career. If you are so afraid of Tony being hurt, does that mean Tony has to stay at home and away from people? Tony is an excellent actor, not a protected pet.

10. Chow Yun Fat is still the same Chow Yun Fat, just that the world is not the same world where he can play god. He did nothing wrong, just misjudging the situation and his opponents.

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