Subjects Discussed: The visual emphasis on stairwells, metallic college environments, the relationship between character and environment, string theory, researching cosmology, comparisons between Joanna Silver and Jo Ann Beard, basing a film on Gang Lu, the Virginia Tech massacre, “Amazing Grace” being sung in Chinese, Chen’s operatic background, performing an intimate scene with Meryl Streep, behavioral mannerisms, tables and windows, glass architecture, the origins of the Laurence Fang character, the corrupting influence of America, chemistry between Liu Ye and Aidan Quinn, television motifs, reflective surfaces, shallow information, Britney Spears, and the five elements of the Chinese horoscope.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: The Meryl Streep character, Joanna Silver, bears a striking resemblance to Jo Ann Beard, who wrote, of course, “The Fourth State of Matter.” And I’m wondering, in terms of secondary materials, if this was intentioned. The Joanna Silver character seems to have more money than Jo Ann Beard did, and I wanted…
Chen: First off, I don’t know Jo Ann Beard. I know a lot of Joannas in New York. And there’s a lot of people. Rich ladies interested in Chinese culture studying tai-chi, trying to speak a few words of Chinese to me in my world. So that’s where the Joanna character comes from.
Correspondent: Oh, okay.
Chen: Just people who saw China as an exotic country, an exotic culture, that were fascinated by what was Chinese.
Correspondent: Because there was a very famous essay written in The New Yorker based off of the Iowa State massacre that was also reprinted in The Best American Essays that was written by Jo Ann Beard. And here you had a Joanna Silver character. So I didn’t know if there was any overlapping in terms of the Gang Lu scenario. In terms of there being overlapping characteristics upon this film. Or is this really not meant to be something that is rooted in a real…?
Chen: It’s not rooted in the real events. The real events were the starting point in making a movie. I think most of the characters you see most are friends of mine who came to this country, who have experienced a different life, and it isn’t meant to tell the stories I know. Not the story of Lu Gang.
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