From MSNBC (link):
When Beijing film producer James Wang Zhonglei ran into his old friend Zhang Ziyi at Cannes last May, he told the Chinese actress that he had a big “headache” because he didn’t have a leading lady for his new film, “The Banquet.” His first choice was Gong Li, Zhang’s costar from “Memoirs of a Geisha,” but she had scheduling conflicts. Zhang looked at him, and he looked back. Five minutes later, Wang was on his mobile phone with Feng Xiaogang, director of “The Banquet” and China’s leading commercial filmmaker. Would he consider the 27-year-old Zhang, who hadn’t made a movie on the mainland in two years, for the role of the fortysomething queen? “Why not?” Feng replied. To make the part more age-appropriate for Zhang, Wang got his team to rewrite her role in the story, a retelling of “Hamlet” set in an ancient Chinese court, for a younger sovereign. Now the $20 million epic, due out in the fall, has become one of Asia’s most anticipated films of the year.
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