Yip Wai Yee
Apr 22, 2015
The Straits Times
Malaysian actress Lee Sinje was talking to Life! in a recent interview in Hong Kong to promote Murmur of the Hearts, the third of Chang's films that Lee stars in after Princess D (2002) and 20 30 40 (2004).
In the new film, Lee plays an emotionally scarred mother who will do anything for her two children (Isabella Leong and Lawrence Ko).
When she decides to leave her husband, she makes the difficult decision of taking custody of only her daughter.
In a separate interview, Chang, 61, tells Life! in jest that Lee should not have anything to complain about, even with painful jellyfish stings.
She says with a laugh:
"Yes, it was a very difficult shoot for her, but Sinje should do it for me, no matter what, as a way of showing gratitude for how I've brought her up."
Taiwanese director Sylvia Chang is widely known as Lee's mentor, having plucked her from obscurity at a movie audition in Malaysia when she was 19.
Chang signed her on as an artist and opened the doors for her to have a singing and then an acting career in Taiwan.
Lee says with a grin:
"In many ways, Chang jie treats me as if she were my mother. She's always been very warm and caring towards me."
Reportedly, Chang was the first person Lee called when news broke of her director-husband Oxide Pang's infidelity in May last year.
Pang, 49, was photographed hugging and kissing a young model, Liddy Li, at a shopping mall and many speculated it would be the end of Lee and Pang's marriage.
But the couple, who married in 2010, released a joint statement saying they would "face the future together".
At another press conference a few months later, she reiterated to reporters:
"We have let it go. It's over. Now we go forward."
Questions about the scandal were off-limits for the interview.
In any case, Lee's answer would have been clear - the couple appeared hand-in-hand at Murmur's premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival later that night.
However, she alludes briefly to being a stepmother to Pang's 14-year-old daughter Yan Yan from a previous marriage.
Being a mother in real life helped her get into her movie role easily, says Lee, who is playing a mother for the first time and has no children of her own.
"I've been a mother for quite some time now, so the emotions required of my role in the film came very naturally.
"I didn't understand at first how this mother could leave her son behind like that, but as I got into the role, I realised she has her own troubles and we shouldn't judge her from an outsider's perspective."
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on April 22, 2015.
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