Interview Daniel Wu

A few days after the release of Night Corridor in theatres in Hong-Kong, we had the chance to ask few questions to the main actor and producer of the film, Daniel Wu.

Night Corridor

Alain: To be able to get into your character of Night Corridor, I suppose you
had to understand Julian Lee's inner world. Was it difficult and what kind
of relation did you have with him?

Daniel Wu In Night Corridor
Daniel: When I took on this project I had read the script and had seen some of Julian's photography (some of which appears in the opening credits of the film). From that I got a sense of how his mind works. I realized that he was a person that was very open about exploring his darker side. So from there I felt there was a common ground. After that everything else was simple and straightforward. It is important to have a common point of departure when working on a project like this, otherwise it can be a very difficult journey. Lucky for us there was always a mutual understanding between the two of us. It's nice to be able to explore certain things without having to explain why.

Alain: By working with Kara Hui Ying-Jung who is a veteran actress from the Shaw Brothers era, did you chat with her to have some advices on acting?

Daniel: I don't usually talk to other actors about acting. I try to learn by observation. Working with Kara, I was surprised at how eager she was to create a rich and deeply believable character. A lot of actors in Hong Kong usually don't go as far to make the transformations she did and I really respect that.

Alain: You produced Night Corridor but Julian told me that you were also involved in some aspects of the movie like the music and others things. Could you tell us all the work you have done for this movie?

Working on the script
Daniel: I did as much as I could for the movie. As producer I immediately felt this was the perfect opportunity to use all the resources I possibly could. I was included on who to cast, script changes and budgeting. I searched successfully and unsuccessfully for funding, which was much more difficult than I thought. During filming we worked together to solve problems. How scenes should be shot, etc. I brought Jun Kung in to do the music. I chose Jun not only because we were friends but because I felt we needed music that was not the typical of most HK movies. Jun had never done a full soundtrack before but his understanding of music is strong, thus creating something quite fresh. And even now I am still working on distribution issues. Because this was a small project I pretty much had a little taste of everything which boosted my learning curve about filmmaking.

Alain: Now that the movie has been released in theaters: are you satisfied with the final result?

Daniel: Happy yes, completely satisfied no. I'm happy because this film had everything working against it when we first started but because of our commitment, passion and hard work we were able to get it done and not only that, we had some of the best people in the HK film industry to help. Satisfaction is different. I am always thinking if we had more time, if we had more money, if we had this, if we had that the whole thing could have been perfect. But it's difficult to have everything perfect, right?

His Career

Alain: This is not the first time that you decide to appear in a non-commercial movie. With your new line-up (Night Corridor, Hidden Track, Miss To) it seems that with the exception of a possible Love Undercover 3, you want to work more with critically acclaimed directors : do you want to progressively leave the commercial side of HK cinema or do you take these films as a way to increase your experience?

Daniel: I go for work that interests me. It does not matter whether the film is commercial or non-commercial as long as there is something in the project that can keep me actively involved. Because I am not a Pop-star, I have then, the freedom to make my own decisions and play various kinds of roles. I think what I fear most is being bored and I will try very hard to avoid the boring roles. Often times non-commercial films have richer and more interesting characters but sometimes so do commercial films, it really depends on the project. Most importantly however, is that I enjoy the process of making the movie, whether it's a challenge or simply just plain fun.

Alain: Since the beginning of your career, you have played a lot of characters who are not really in control of the situation, or who are even played or fooled. Is it a coincidence, or are you interested in this kind of character? If you are, could you tell us why ?

Daniel Wu in Purple Storm

Daniel: I enjoy playing characters that have weaknesses or vulneralbilities, because to me I can relate to that. I enjoy characters that are constantly questioning themselves and their actions because that's what makes people human. The fact that we are not always
perfect is simple human behavior. Truly strong people come from an understanding of what it means to be weak. The more one understands weakness, rather than avoid it, the stronger one can be. Those who pretend to be strong are ultimately the weakest.

Alain: By producing Night Corridor, you have surely learnt some tips on how the movie industry works: do you think this experience will have an influence on your desire of becoming a movie director?

Daniel: Oh sure, definitely. This confirmed to me that ,passion in something, can get you much further than copious amounts of money. I look at some of the big productions that came out this year that cost $XXX million with big stars, etc., and you can see the lack of heart and strength. When I do finally get around to directing my first film I will definitely start with the heart first rather than the money.

All our thanks to Julian Lee, Daniel Wu and Teresa Lock.

  • September 2003