Zhang Ziyi Lands Lead Role in Memoirs of a Geisha!

zhangziyi.jpgThere was an awful lot of buzz around Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi following the release of Crouching Tiger, and for good reason – not only is she very, very easy on the eyes but she’s also a very gifted actress and physical performer. Tiger led to a key role in Rush Hour 2 and then, tired of being offered nothing but cliched roles, she simply opted out of the Hollywood machine and went back to making stellar films all throughout Asia. Well, for someone who has left Hollywood we’re certainly going to be seeing an awful lot of her in the next year … Not only does she star in the upcoming films Hero and The House of Flying Daggers, but Monkey Peaches is reporting that Ziyi has landed the coveted lead role in the Spielberg produced / Rob Marshall directed Memoirs of a Geisha. The film is due to start filming in September. Now all we need is for someone to get around to putting Musa on screens here …

20 thoughts on “Zhang Ziyi Lands Lead Role in Memoirs of a Geisha!

  1. I love Ziyi Zhang but I have complained on other forums about the casting in this film. Do Hollywood think a western audience cannot tell the difference between a Japanese and Chinese person? I don’t think so, Japanese features are very distinctive even to westerners like myself.

    I agree it’s a bit insulting. They are going for “Names” rather than appropriate actresses.

    But then I get worked up when they keep casting black actors to play white characters such as the Kingpin in Daredevil.

  2. I just saw the preview, and i must say, it seems like a very interesting movie. However…WHY THE HECK DID THEY PICK A CHINESE GIRL TO PLAY AN EXTREMELY JAPANESE ROLE??????

    Ok maybe I’m biased because I’m Japanese, but I think this is just an insult. Zhang is absolutely beautiful, but she should’nt have been the one to play Sayuri, because she DOES NOT LOOK JAPANESE. What, they can’t find any Japanese women to play the role? It’s ridiculous. How about Kyoko Fukada? Or Eriko Imai? They are both in their early twenties, speak fairly good English, and THEY’RE JAPANESE!!! I mean, if Zhang LOOKED Japanese, then fine she can play Sayuri. But she looks like the typical Chinese. Her skin tone and features are so different (though they may not seem that different to white people), that her wearing a kimono makes her look like a poser.

    I will still watch this movie, though. But the whole time, I’ll be like, she’s so Chinese………

  3. I think Zhang Ziyi is beautiful and sweet, but I think her beauty is different from japanese women, especially for Sayuri role. Sayuri has white skin too, but her face characteristic is realy different from Zhang Ziyi who is 100% Chinese. I think it is strange seeing a Chinese women play as a japanese geisha. Jeniffer Lopez look like a Mexican so it doesn’t matter she play a Mexican role. At least the actress who play Nitta Sayuri role has to look like a Japanese woman. People who can’t see the differences between white skin Chinese and white skin Japanese maybe don’t understand that seeing Ziyi play Sayuri would be like seeing a Chinese women wear yukata. You won’t get the artistic side of Japanese geisha at 100%, although Ziyi is a good dancer too.

  4. Hey hey no discrimination!:P
    Why can’t a chinese actress play a japanese role?
    Takeshi Kaneshiro is Japanese and he had a chinese role in a chinese movies and I think he did a great job…
    Jenifffer lopez is not mexican but had a Mexican role in a movie wich made lots of Mexican mad…Jeniffer lopez portayed her role in Selena very well so it was acceptable anyway.

    I’m already glad they actually picked asians in that movie XD
    All these complainings bout Ziyi is stupid and mean >.

  5. I really don’t know what’s so bad about casting chinese women in a Japanese plot-based film. I am half chinese half japanese and i dont find this the least bit offensive. I simply adore Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, and to those who say that there aren’t any japanese main characters, you’ve forgotten about Ken Watanabe! His role is the chairman. Although, i have read the book, and it was a bit of a shame that they didn’t cast japanese women as the geishas, simply because the audience already know the chinese backround of Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh.

  6. I hear they have also cast Michelle Yeoh as Mameha. As both a huge fan of geisha and somewhat a fan of Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh, I am actually extremely sad about this news. Zhang Ziyi did show quite a bit of grace in her role in The House of Flying Daggers, a sort of grace one might need to play a geisha. However, as person almost more exposed to Asian culture than my own, it is too strange for me to see two women who are very Chinese (and in a very, very good way) play geisha. It seems like the people who cast these women have no idea that Asians of different nationalities generally look different. For quite a few people, this may almost almost be like watching one of those old films that painted white people up to play Middle Eastern or Native Americans. Some of which are good films, but this adds an element of unintended silliness.
    I love these two women, they are beautiful and worthy of praise. The films I have seen them in have been wonderful (except any American ones…). But why did they not put Japanese actresses in very, very Japanese roles?

  7. Devon aoki would be a good choice she is a stunning half japanese model that is use to performining.Koyuki would be good too! Doesnt SAYURI HAVE GREY EYES how will they get past that?

  8. Hollywood has a history of casting non-Chinese for Chinese roles. Who can forget WHITE actors with taped eyes in Good Earth or John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Flower Drum Song’s main actors were mostly Japanese. Mako portrayed a Chinese peasant in Sand Pebbles. Tamlyn Tomita played one of the Chinese daughters in Joy Luck Club. #

    Memoirs of a Geisha is a Hollywood movie directed by a white male, based on a story written by a Jewish man. And you guys are complaining about the Chinese actresses?

  9. I can’t see any talent in Zhang Ziyi. She’s too unexpressive for this movie. Her eyes are just… blank! And she doesn’t speak english at all (I still don’t know why a truly japanese movie is going to be spoken on english). I was hoping that Koyuki would take this role. She would be perfect. Or, maybe Chiaki Kuriyama? But I’ll watch this movie anyway, and if Spielberg doesn’t make a very very nice adaptation I’m gonna kill him without mercy. Because the book is just *so* great.

  10. I completely agree with Josh and gothgirlone. It’s an insult to the Japanese people that Spielberg decided to use a Chinese actor to play a Japanese character in a VERY Japanese story, since there are tons of great Japanese actors in the US and in Japan. As an asian woman, I feel even more insulted that Hollywood continues to perpetuate an ignorant view that all asians are the same because we all look a like. In my view, Zhang Ziyi has very stereotypical “chinese” features. When I read the book about 5 years ago, I never imagined that Sayuri would resemble the chinese girls in my city (SF). Can’t believe Arthur Golden will let this happen. PS: I’m not Japanese.

  11. That’s Hollywood Socialists for you! They just love China because of its politics and because they are lusting after the Chinese market. We should all let Hollywood know that we think it stinks! The perfect choice for the lead would be Koyuki…fresh off “The Last Samurai” Absolutely beautiful and fresh…Anyone ready to protest at the Academy Awards?

  12. What’s so special about Zhang Ziyi?! I mean she’s been in less than 10 movies and most of them are supporting roles. She’s totally overexposed, and typecasted. She can’t hardly speak any English, and she’s inexperienced as an actress and woman. How can she compare to the multi-talented Maggie Cheung who is multi-lingual and had been in more than 60 films, and won many acting awards. And how can she compare to Lucy Liu? Liu has more star power and she speaks English without an accent. It’s time to challenge her with a dramatic role, and Memeiors would be the perfect vehicle. I can’t imagine Ziyi delivering the lines in Mandarin and getting dubbed afterwards. Oh, and she really doesn’t look Japanese at all. They could use Sandra Oh for God’s sake.

  13. Why…oh why?? Why is one of the most romantic and engaging stories about the life of geisha in Japan being transported to screen…and then have its roles filled by Chinese actors? While I have nothing against these actors in general, it seems to me that a movie set in Japan and about Japanese characters and culture should have a least one Japanese actor in a leading role. Amazing.

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