Sunday, August 24, 2008

A bullet in the eye: A Vietnamese actress on the set of Shanghai in Bangkok

If you saw the recent photos from the Bangkok set of Shanghai, and wondered who the ruby-lipped, peacock-feather-brandishing actress sitting behind John Cusack was, well wonder no more. It was Vietnamese actress and model Ly Nha Ky. She is back in Vietnam and regaling the media with tales of her 13 days of working on a Hollywood movie.

In an interview by Thanh Nien News, Ky describes her desire to prove her professionalism, determination and dedication to the film, even to the point that she remained on the set after a fragment from a blank pistol became lodged in her eye. Here's more from the story:

Chow Yun-fat and I shared a scene, standing close together in a casino. Chow’s character was assassinated. I was right in front of him. The assassin shot over my shoulder to kill Chow.

“A fragment from the blank shot hit my left eye but I didn’t know and continued to work. Director Mikeal Hafstrom and all members in the film crew were concerned and asked me to see the doctor. But I didn’t go because I thought it would affect the schedule.”

She said the other actors expressed a lot of care about her injury.

Ky went to the hospital when she returned to Vietnam to remove the fragment from her eye. Ky said, “I am really happy because after each scene, I was given emotional encouragement, especially from director Mikael Hafstrom. It gave me extra motivation even though they were all strangers.

“The talent of Hollywood film makers is that they create such a real background. Everything seemed real so the feeling of being scared and terrible was also real. The scenes of war, shooting, and death made me feel as if I was there.

“I was surprised when I looked at the film shots that I look so mature and become another person under the hand of the talented director.

“It was a big film crew but the schedule was very specific,” she said. “Every detail was coordinated. The stuntmen acted first so that the main characters could understand the action. They held frank discussions with the director to find the best way to perform. It’s really intellectual cooperation.”

Ky said, “For me, in 13 days, in spite of my small role, I learnt a number of lessons, especially more confidence in myself, future openings for me and for Vietnam movies. It proved that Vietnam movie stars are capable, but haven’t had many chances to develop their talent.

“American filmmakers are surveying the Asian market. This was the first time they came to Vietnam. At the end of this year, when ‘Shanghai’ is released, the filmmakers will see the public’s reaction. I hope that we now have two Vietnamese actresses and next year, 10-12 more, so that more Vietnamese actors/actresses will be able to appear in Hollywood films and Vietnamese motion pictures will cooperate with Hollywood.”

Ky was one of two Vietnamese actresses cast in supporting roles in the film, which is set in 1940s Shanghai. The other was Vu Thu Phuong, "the Weinstein Company's representative in Vietnam".

There's a story on Ky's blog, which describes her filming a bomb-explosion scene, and a Thai actor who was to support her, got scared and "ran away", and Phuong stepped in to the "dangerous" situation to assist her compatriot.

In a Vietnamese-language report by Việt Báo, there are more photos from the Bangkok set, including one of The Weinstein Company's Bey Logan appearing to strangle Ky.

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