TEMPEST OF THE WESTERLY WINDS WITHOUT READING THE SCRIPT
How’s your role in Tempest of the Westerly Winds?
Wu Jing: I’m nicknamed Goatherd, actually I long to be a hero, but never become one. I’m well-versed in wushu, might have been a soldier, and now I’m a trainee cop, understudy of Ni Da Hong, learning from him, enjoying life as a police. I took my brother’s place when he died on duty. I’m only on contract, not an official cop. I’m an animated, quick-witted person, and am very good with car stunts. I’m also the best fighter.
That goes without saying.
Wu Jing: Actually, all of us have action scenes, since this is an action film. But perhaps, I might have more martial arts sequences, practical combat.
What do you think makes this China’s Western film so special?
Wu Jing: I think it’s the coarseness, the manly feel. In the vast desert, there’s a very wild, very macho feel. It belongs to men, though we have many female colleagues on the set, it’s been gruelling for them. Indeed, it’s a world belonging only to men. It’s very hard for women to survive here. I think the director wants to tell us that this will not be like US Western films, where cowboys must be on horseback.
What makes this film Chinese?
Wu Jing: Simplicity.
Apart from action, anything new or groundbreaking to you?
Wu Jing: Yes, actually, I’ve not seen the script.
Wu Jing: I always have made this mistake. Firstly, I know director Gao Qun Shu, and I trust his character. Many of my friends are saying that old Gao is someone with very high artistic values, and he is a very honorable, forthright, trustworthy person. He had talked to me a few months back, but I was doing City Under Siege. So, it was pushed back until now. He called me again, so here I am.
In addition, I have been doing Hong Kong commercial films – action or martial arts films – in the past few years, so I wish to have a taste of how things are done in Mainland films. Moreover, we don’t have a commercial Western actioner. Since director Gao is doing this experiment, I thought I also need to experiment, to get a feel of how things work here, including acting.
Does director Gao Qun Shu find any of your habits from Hong Kong productions that need to be changed?
Wu Jing: He told me that he wants me act as myself, to be myself. In Hong Kong, I’m role-playing, acting a role, rather myself. He told me that no matter what I did, I was too always too self-conscious of where the camera was. This would affect my immersion in the character. I feel very happy to be able to be myself, to exhibit many of my own personalities.
Commercial films tend to champion star power. What do you think are the strengths of this film?
Wu Jing: Old Gao is our spiritual leader, who illuminates everyone’s light. We are but ingredients in a dish he cooks, and each of us gets to demonstrate our functions, doing our best based on our qualities. How good it is, whether the flame strong enough, it’s all up to him.
Do you feel that you’re doing things blindly without having read the script?
Wu Jing: Not blindly, but I feel a bit hasty. When doing a film, or interpreting a character, I always hope to find the character’s motivation, to live as he does. In particular, I don’t want to discover the character’s soul only after filming is completed. That’d be awful. So I don’t like it. But, sometimes, we have to act according to circumstances.
For example, if you delay it for one more month, Dunhuang would be too cold, too cold to shoot action. It’s already below freezing point at night, and we would sway about when on wires due to such strong wind blowing. It’s already very dangerous. Any later, it’d be too chilling and the risks will be higher. I hope to find the soul of this character as soon as possible.
I feel that I’m quite fortunate, having talked to old Gao over the past few days, and Duan Yi Hong, Ni Da Hong, whenever we chat together, we would discover our own characteristics and personalities, so we are able to get into our roles very quickly.
Any other interesting moments to share with us?
Wu Jing: It’s driving the jeep, and making a 180 degree tail spin, I did it once. It was very thrilling. But very dangerous. For it was on highland, very high, and because of the high chassis, when you spin, it could overturn very easily.
You did the spin yourself?
Wu Jing: Yes.
How’s your driving skills?
Wu Jing: I’m proud to tell you, I’m on Dreamboat race team. In my daily life, I was inspired by what director Cheung Sing Yim told me: As an actor, you must master all kind of skills and techniques, especially when you have professional licenses. Some of the skills that we could think of, I’ve learned them all, and on a professional level, such as horse-riding; scuba diving – I have international diving licence; and soccer, skiing.
These are skills that might come in handy when filming. So, what you don’t know could inadvertently become your hurdle. Like playing a swordsman, you have to ride a horse, but if you couldn’t, what should you do? You can’t be making your getaway in a horse-drawn carriage with a bunch of horsemen hot on your heels. It won’t be convincing. So, I take pride in having these little skills.
Do you look forward to this film being a box office hit?
Wu Jing: No, I won’t. To me, I’ve already earned something – a new endeavour, a different kind of experience. This is my real wealth. Rather than worrying about the box office, might as well remember this new attempt.