Director Johnnie To (杜琪峯) was brutally honest in pointing out that he does not want to cast Cecilia Cheung (張栢芝) in his movies because of her complicated personal life and negative gossip.
He admitted that there is an overall shortage of Hong Kong actresses over 30 years old he preferred to cast, reports Jayne Stars.
While promoting Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 <單身男女2>, Johnnie explained why Mainland actress Gao Yuanyuan (高圓圓) has become a recent casting favorite.
Filled with praise for the 35-year-old actress, Johnnie nevertheless cast Yuanyuan as a superficial love interest in 2013’s Blind Detective <盲探>.
Johnnie said, “It was especially hard to find someone who can get Andy Lau (劉德華) to fall in love with her, so I asked Yuanyuan to help out, and it worked.”
Johnnie admitted that Hong Kong film actresses have many limitations, “When Hong Kong cinema was at its best, there weren’t many leading actresses over 30 years old. It’s not like overseas, where actresses over 40 are still leading.
"The only one who could do it in Hong Kong was Brigitte Lin (林青霞), who is still very beautiful. Besides her, it is really rare to find someone over 30 years old. Almost none.”
Pointing out that Cecilia Cheung (張栢芝), who starred in Johnnie’s Running on Karma <大隻佬> is a qualified actress over 30, Johnnie said, “Yes, she is also pretty good. Unfortunately, she got herself into some messy issues. She’s also divorced. Who wants to use her [now]?”
While Cecilia has yet to directly respond to the matter, her agency, AEG Entertainment Group, fired back at Johnnie’s inconsiderate comment.
AEG CEO Yu Yuxing (余毓興) expressed, “Johnnie is a very famous director. In order to promote his new film, he had to talk about Cecilia’s divorce and landed on headlines for two days. I am pleased for him, but at the same time feel hurt and sad for him.”
Although Yu personally admires Johnnie’s excellent films, the AEG CEO sighed in disappointment over Johnnie’s recent comments, which undermine his status as a respected director in the industry.
While Yu understands the competitive nature of the Hong Kong film industry, he believes there are other promotional methods that can be employed and a director should not have to step on others to make noise and create media buzz.
In terms of Johnnie’s claims that no one would hire Cecilia anymore, Yu refuted, “Cecilia has over ten scripts to choose from. However, she likes to choose her scripts carefully.”