It has been more than a decade since Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi co-starred in “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Recently, the latter shared how she and her co-star executed one particular scene that involved slapping.
Zhang is one of the mentors on “The Birth of Actors,” a Chinese reality show debuted on Zhejiang Satellite TV in October. While commenting on the contestants’ performance involving a scene with slapping in a recent episode, she recalled one incident that took place when she was filming “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
In one “Memoirs of a Geisha” scene, Li’s character Hatsumomo came to the room of Zhang’s character Nitta Sayuri. The former slapped the latter in the face, pulled her hair and told her that she would destroy her for insulting her in front of the customers.
Before filming this particular scene, Li and Zhang discussed, the latter revealed. Li wanted to do the slapping for real and Zhang agreed but when the time came for them to shoot it, the latter was so nervous that her lips were shaking and her eyelids were trembling.
For the slapping scene in “Memoirs of a Geisha” between Hatsumomo and Nitta Sayuri, Li slapped Zhang seven times before they had the best take, the latter revealed. According to Zhang, there were palm prints of Li on her face after filming the scene.
In addition, Li admitted that it was difficult to execute that particular slapping scene. On the other hand, she concluded that she benefitted much from working with a senior like Li.
Directed by Rob Marshall, “Memoirs of a Geisha” received six Academy Award nominations, winning three. Among Zhang and Li’s co-actors in the film were Steve Terada, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Togo Igawa, Suzuka Ohgo, Elizabeth Sung, Kaori Momoi, Eugenia Yuan, Michelle Yeoh and Ken Watanabe.
In 2018, Zhang will star in “Cloverfield Movie” with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabth Debicki, David Oyelowo and Chris O’Dowd. Meanwhile, watch an episode of “The Birth of Actors” here: