American actor Will Smith yesterday hailed Taipei as the place that fulfilled his lifelong wish to work with Taiwan-born and Oscar-winning film director Ang Lee (李安).
“Ang Lee has been on my list for most of my adult life [as] someone that I wanted to work with. So Taipei made the dream come true,” Smith told a press conference held at a Taipei hotel promoting his new action thriller Gemini Man.
Smith was referring to the time he expressed his desire to work with Lee at a press conference in Taipei six years ago, which was held to promote his 2013 action adventure movie After Earth.
Smith also asked people to tell the Taiwanese-American director of his desire to collaborate with him.
Those wishes were finally fulfilled through their work together on Gemini Man, and Smith said the new slogan for Taiwan’s capital should be “Taipei, the place where dreams come true!”
In response, Lee said, “Yeah, I heard the mating call.”
“I was in New York, but it was all over the media and all over the newspapers and I hoped that I would fulfill his dream because the dream was bilateral,” Lee said.
Lee described Smith as a very talented actor and said having him for Gemini Man was the ideal situation and that their work experience was extraordinary.
Smith returned the praise.
“What makes a great director great in terms of actors is that they know how to push the buttons and flip the emotional switches inside of you,” Smith said.
Lee, he said, studies the actors he works with and walks them to the emotional space that he is looking for.
“[Lee] has a deep comprehension of what makes a human being do what they do. The director is the musician and the actor is the instrument,” Smith said.
Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Gemini Man, said Lee would whisper words into Smith’s ear to stimulate his performance.
“Ang would walk up to Will and whisper three words in his ear and the performance would totally change,” Bruckheimer said.
Lee said the technique was used to stimulate the actor, but he did not reveal exactly what he said.
Smith said that he and Lee shared a similar relationship with their fathers, and this similarity created a language between the two that helped reinforce their connection.
Gemini Man tells the story of a middle-aged assassin, played by Smith, being pursued by a younger assassin, whom he discovers is a younger cloned version of himself.
Gemini Man, which opened in the United States on Oct. 11, is only the second movie to be made using 120 frames per second (fps) technology, a big jump from the industry standard of 24 fps. The first was Lee’s 2016 drama history Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Gemini Man’s Taiwan premiere took place at the Miramar Entertainment Park yesterday.
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