Zhang Ziyi in no hurry to marry

Actress Zhang Ziyi appears in The Crossing, the latest epic from director John Woo. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Actress Zhang Ziyi appears in The Crossing, the latest epic from director John Woo. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Despite rumours that she has pressured her boyfriend to marry her, the actress says she is letting nature take its course

A resigned Zhang Ziyi has said that one cannot hurry love, and that - contrary to Chinese reports - she has not pressured her rocker beau, Wang Feng, to marry her.

"I've never pushed him. It's the media," said the Chinese actress, 35, with a sigh, referring to the Chinese media's constant scrutiny of her romance with compatriot Wang, 43.

"When it comes to marriage and life, you have to go with the flow and let nature take its course. You can't plan how relationships pan out," she added, at a press conference yesterday to promote her latest film, at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

"You won't know what will happen tomorrow."

Speaking in Mandarin, Zhang addressed an English-speaking reporter directly and said with a laugh: "You understand, right? You won't write it wrongly?"

She was in town with the cast of Hong Kong director John Woo's two-part war romance, The Crossing, based on the sinking of Chinese steamer Taiping in 1949. The first part opens in cinemas here tomorrow, and the second part is expected to be released next May.

Also present at the press conference was director Woo, his actress daughter Angeles Woo and Chinese actor Tong Dawei.

They attended the Singapore premiere of the first part of The Crossing at the Shaw Theatres Lido last night. The sold-out screening was part of the Singapore International Film Festival.

The Crossing revolves around the fates of three couples in war-torn China, and can be said to be the most romantic of director Woo's oeuvre to date.

Known for balletic triad thrillers such as A Better Tomorrow (1986), Hollywood action flicks such as Face/Off (1997) and, more recently, the two-part Chinese period epic Red Cliff (2008, 2009), the director came across as a softie at heart.

For The Crossing, he revealed, he incorporated a memory of himself and his wife into the movie - in the form of a passionate waltz scene between Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming, who plays war hero General Lei Yi Fang and South Korean co-star Song Hye Kyo, Huang's on-screen love interest.

"When I was young, my wife and I loved dancing," said Woo, 68, at the press conference. "I remember swirling with her on the dance floor."

"I'm a shy guy, I don't really know how to express my feelings. On the way home, I would pluck flowers for my wife and give them to her," he added. He has been married to his wife, Annie, 62, for 38 years. Mrs Woo makes a cameo in The Crossing and also released a book detailing her love story with the director this month.

His daughter Angeles, 33, also provided rare insight into her dad's caring side.

She said: "He's very caring and never brings work home. He makes dinner for everyone. That's just another way of him showing his affection."

Angeles is the second of Woo's three children. She has an elder sister and a younger brother

She adds: "In this film, he uses some memories from the past to illustrate the love story. That's a very nice touch."

She has a bit part as the sister-in-law of a doctor (played by Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro). In the movie, she gets to cover the sleeping Kaneshiro with a blanket - to the envy of many Kaneshiro fans.

Asked if the scene was a special arrangement for the director's daughter, the auteur replied, dead-pan: "The scene was already in the script. Her character is very concerned for Kaneshiro's character. They are like siblings in the movie."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

The Crossing opens in cinemas here today.