Mui-interview of those days

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For some pictures of Fleur, please refer to Mingpao Weekly 1835

"Rouge" and Anita Mui

Movie biweekly   Oct 29, 1987

Anita Mui never understands why she got the role of Fleur in "Rouge".  After Li Pik Wah finished her book, the role of Fleur was waiting for Anita Mui,  negotiation and contract followed right away.  The fact is this, since last year, when "Rough" has been decided to be put into production, directors and actors have been changed for many times; Tong Kee Ming to Stanley Kwan, the role of 12th Master has been changed from Adam Cheng, to Chow Yun Fat and then Leslie Cheung, Chu Po Yee took the place of Chung Chiu Huang, and Man Chee Leung......only Anita Mui as Fleur, never been changed.

Li and Kwan gave their help

Fluer had a very sad destiny, Chinese would describe it as think as a piece of paper, she died at 23.  As a prostitute at West Tong in 30s, she was a born beauty, after she died, she body was half transparent.  It was so very sad, she went to the world after life to look for her husband. How does Anita Mui, who doesn't like lingering feeling with ex love relation, handle this role?

[I read the book very early, then every night I watched the Cantonese old movies on the TV.  Actually the  storyline of many Cantonese old movies is similar.  I imitated them talking, the style of walking and their aroma.  For the first scene during shooting, I felt it was difficult for me, it all based on my own imagination.  I didn't understand some of the dialogues at all, how could I recite them with feeling?   Therefore, whenever I didn't understand anything, I asked Li Pik Wah.]

[How did the director help you in playing the role?]

[Stanley Kwan is a very patient teacher.  But in this film, the female role had too much acting that was from heart, Ah Kwan had to explain every detail; "Lar, (imitating Kwan's tone) this leading female role at first is like this, later........" I asked: "How about the middle!"  Just like nothing had been said?  But Ah Kwan and Li Pik Wah had discussed with me  the psychological thinking and motive of the role, the change between the first half and second half in her thinking.  Why came up to this world, then why had the motive of killing and etc.]   she added after a pause.

[Actually I tried to be natural, because if talked or discussed too much, might be too extreme.]

[Fleur was a girl of the social entertainment environment, you came out to sing in your very early age, did that help you to control the thinking of that role?]

[No, I  only sang in the past, not the same circle, how could I see this type of person.  Even I did, would not be the same type as those of 30s.]

Be ghost but not flying around

Once, Ho Kwoo Cheong asked Anita Mui, since "Rouge" was a ghost story, why not added some flying action, that would attract more audience.  She objected to it immediately: [To be a person and to do a thing, there are only 2 aims, either for money, or for fame.  You can't get both.  Are there many "For a better tomorrow"?  I don't like the story to be ruined.  If to add some many funny gimmicks, I'd rather give up this role.  Jacky Chan was right.  This ghost had her own philosophy, she was rather humane, she would not become invisible, and could not go through the wall.  Therefore, I'm very troublesome, people of Kar Woo have headache seeing me.  Anyway, I convinced Ho Kwan Cheong, we didn't talk about commercial this time, we talked about art.] (Mui had great foresight and sense.  Failure of "Midnight Fly" is a proof that you have to make up your mind if you want a commercial movie or a real movie of art - Woodstock)

[That's why you have big expectation for "Rouge", it seems that you wish you will get the Golden Horse Award.]

[Yes!  An award is something I wish to give myself.  Though I might not get increment for the pay after  getting an award, but an award can confirm your contribution to the film industry by the public.  Even you can be very popular, you might not get an award.]

[Actually when you work, is it for something for yourself or for others?]

[More for others.  If only for myself, I can just go after finish those I like, I don't have to work so hard.]

[For "Rough", you led from the start to the end, your part was very important.  For HK films the female leading role used to be just like a flower vase normally.  So the situation like "Rouge" is quite rare, was this the biggest change in your filming life?]

[Yes.  I'm not pretty, you count the HK beauties from 1 to 10, still not my turn.  But if you count from the bottom, I rank #1.  So no sense to look for me to be a flower vase.  Now comedy is very popular, I'm afraid that people would stereotype me as an ugly actress.  I hope to play a role that is completely different from normal life, it is more fun.  The role of Fleur, a very gentle woman, spoke softly, even had to think about how to walk.  In my normal life, I'm crazy, I can't sit quietly, and never stop talking.  But, in later part, I got myself fully immersed in the script, maybe I sympathized with her.]

Fleur, herself

[What kind of woman do you think Fleur was?]

[She was a completely devoted woman and a bit selfish too.  In the past women were very pathetic, when they could not solve the problem then died together.  Nowadays, people won't do that.  Just look at Man Chee and Chu Po Yee that pair, if there are problems, then talk about it.  Easy come easy go mar.]

[What type of person do you think you are?]

[I'm very self centred.  I'm defiant since I was young.  My mother asked me to sit, I would stand.  If she held the rattan stick and asked me to eat, I purposely refused to eat.  If you were fierce in treating me, then I made troubles.]

But, all these happened long time ago.  Recently she has seen through things much more.  She knows what she is lacking, she is not as ambitious as before, such as wanted to get into Japanese market or international market.  She doesn't believe she can fly by singing, the fact is that she is not able to fly.

[In the past, I had very bad temper, and easily offended people, and I'd rather say sorry to them the next day.  I was not stable in emotion, I could be happy, angry and sad within one hour.   I looked hateful, when I first started I didn't know anyone, I dared not talk, people would say I pretended to be Cool, arrogant.  Now, I'm afraid that people will criticize me, so once I sit down, I immediately talk a lot nonsense;  but it is getting worse, because sometimes when I don't talk, they would comment that I'm not happy.  My God, if never stop talking, my mouth will get tired, needs a rest kar!]

Anita Mui, actually is a born comedian, when she talks, she is not only dramatic, the pitch of her words is imagery, she doesn't mind to laugh at herself, her tone sometimes high and sometimes low, with timing.  But she seems to have phobia about comedy, she thinks that people ask her to play in comedy, because she doesn't mind to look silly.  Her honesty in talking like this really shocks people.  Actually comedy can be performed with depth, just like Michael Hui.

[During the shooting of "Inspector of Chocolate", Michael Hui had very strict requirement.  For each scene we had to rehearse many times until everyone knew it real well then it could be shot.  Every time he asked me to be exaggerated but had to be natural, to be natural but had to be exaggerated.  He told me many things, not about the film, but about life, very sophisticated, I didn't understand what he was talking about.]

For the role of Fleur, Anita Mui had worked very hard, at least she had read the script.  She said, in the past she never read the script.  The director asked them to be in position, told them the dialogues, so just followed him.  [Comedy mar, no skill is needed, just play myself, of course it will be good lar.]

Like to be a devil

[Do you like stage better?]

[I like singing, also I like filming.  I entered this circle by singing, of course I care about singing more.  Actually whenever I sing a song, I always add a drama into it, I perform every song like perform a story.  I like stage, I can immerse fully in my performance and development.  In the past when I performed in the night club, I thought about how to perform every song,  I flew to and fro on the stage, people thought I was crazy, why worked so hard.]

[But you don't like every song?]

[About 2 to 3 songs in each album.  But don't be so pessimistic.  Even audience requested me to sing those songs I don't like, I still tried my best to do my best.  Since I stood there, I didn't like to show sour face and didn't like to work unhappily.]

[Your recent album didn't create a changing image on purpose, that is not your style of aiming for  changing images?]

[I thought of an image, even more exaggerated then witch girl, called "devil".  I wanted to tell story about a woman, she is a devil, difficult to know what she is after.  "devil" is generated from heart, there are angel and devil in the human heart, one minutes you will feel very down, no confidence, want to commit suicide, these are all one's hallucination.  I told the lyricists about this, who knows, all the lyrics I got back are about me.  About changing images, about wild imagination, everything is about me.  I said it is not about me, it is about other people, they never understand, can't help.]

[Why don't you try to write the lyric yourself?]

[I only know how to talk about it, I don't know how to do it.  It is very difficult to write lyrics.  In the end the album came out with an image of a lady.]

Anita Mui always wants to change the image, as she is afraid of being boring.  The image she likes to create, others can't do it accordingly.  What other people ask her to perform, she doesn't like.  She doesn't understand why people wanted her play such a "sad" role.  I'm not like that mar!  It might be coincidence, in the film "Fate", due to her sad look she got the Best New Actress Award in the HK Film Academy, then her first TV soap opera "Summer kisses, Winter snow", her role was very sad too. Then, she made Fleur of "Rouge"  alive, and got nominated for the Best Actress for Golden Horse Award.  She asked herself [Do I really look that sad?]  (In Fate, I don't think she looked sad at all - Woodstock)

In 1982, Anita Mui went first time onto the stage to get the award, she was dressed in gold  and looked glamorous.  But, she couldn't get rid of her image of a singer because of her pre-matured and  deep voice .  Till "Years flow like water",  people all thought she had walked a longer way than other people of the same age, that's why she could look sad, but  to the  just right degree.  Now, she is optimistic, self confident, and carefree, looks like she successfully gets rid of the sad image and achieved another look.

 

如花如我本無關

《胭脂扣》與梅艷芳

《電影雙周刊》    第225期    1987年10月29日

 

 梅艷芳一直不明白《胭脂扣》的如花怎樣會找上她?只是李碧華成書之後,如花一角就虛位以待,等待梅艷芳出現,隨即謀媒下聘。事實如此,《胭脂扣》自去年嚷著開怕以來,導演至演員的名單不知變換凡幾,唐基明去後是關錦鵬,十二少一角由鄭少秋至周潤發到張國榮,朱寶意替代鍾楚紅,還有萬梓良......只有梅艷芳演如花,始終不變。

李、關拔刀相助

如花命如紙薄,去世時二十三歲。三十年代的塘西妓女,長於煙花之地,脂粉叢中。天生顏色素白,死後呈半透明狀態,淒淒怨怨地、上穹碧落下黃泉地尋夫。對於一向潑脫無拘繫的梅艷芳,她怎樣處理這個角色?

「第一我好早的時候看過這本小說,然後晚晚捕住睇電視粵語長片,其實好多粵語片橋段和她很相似。學他們講o野、行路的姿態、神氣。拍第一場戲最辛苦,完全憑空想像。有些對白像什麼「溫心老契」、「埋街食井水」,根本不明白它的意思,怎會講得有感情呢!所以,一有唔明白就捉住李碧華來問。」

「導演怎樣幫助你演繹角色?」

「關錦鵬教戲很有心機,但係部戲o既女主角太多內心戲,阿關很詳細解釋每節戲,『勒!(學關口吻)個女主角初時係咁,後來就咁......』我問:『究竟中間係點哩!』唉,講o左等於無講?不過阿關和李碧華都同我討論過女主角o既心理和動機,上半場和下半場的心埋變化,點解上o黎,後來點解動殺機等等。」她停了一會又補充。

「其實我只是盡量Natural咁去做,講得太多,有時仲走埋一邊o忝!」

「如花是一個風塵女子,你自細出來唱歌,經歷咁多,是否容易把握這種人的心態?」

 「無呀?我以前唱歌,根本不同圈子,點會識這些人。就算見過,都唔係三十年代o個種啦!」

做鬼不要飛來飛去

 有一次,何冠昌問梅艷芳,既然《胭脂扣》是鬼片,不如加些飛來飛去的動作,會更吸引觀眾。她一口拒絕向何冠昌說:「做人同做事都係得兩種唧,一係為錢,一係為名。無兩全其美o既,有幾多《英雄本色》呀,我唔想破壞成個故事。搞咁多古靈精怪,我寧願唔拍。成龍講得o岩!我呢隻鬼有鬼o既邏輯,比較有人性,唔會無端端隱形,穿過厚牆。所以,我好麻煩o架,嘉禾D人見到我就頭痛,終於何冠昌被我說服,我地今次唔講商業,就講藝術。」

「因此你對《胭脂扣》期望特別大,你好似好想得金馬獎。」

「係呀!得獎是對自己一種交待。雖然,得獎未必可以加片酬,但係,得到獎表示人地一致公認你對電影有貢獻。你就算好紅,未必得到獎o架。」

「其實你做o野對自己交待多還是對人交待多?」

「對人交待多,如果對自己交待,我做完自己好玩果D就走人,駛乜咁辛苦。」

「今次演《胭脂扣》,你由頭帶到尾佔戲咁重,在港產片女主角多數是花瓶,這種情況比較少見,算是你從影以來最大的挑戰?」

「是呀!我又唔靚,香港靚女由一數到十未輪到我,由尾數上我排第一,又唔剝得,無謂搵我做花瓶。而家流行喜劇,我怕被人定型做o左女丑生。我希望做一個同現實生活完全唔同o既角色,咁至好玩。如花呢個角色,又斯文,講o野又細聲,行步路都要諗過,我平時大顛大肺,坐唔定,口唔停,不過,後期我都總算投入,或者我同情個女主角。」

如花、自己

「你覺得如花是個怎樣的女人?」

「她是個痴情而略為自私的人。以前D女人係咁慘,想唔通就大家攬住死。現代人唔會o架,好似萬子與朱寶意果對,有乜o野就開心見誠講,Easy Come Easy Go嘛。」

「你認為自己是個怎樣的人?」

「我個人好自我咯!自細包拗頸。阿媽叫我坐我就企,如果拿住籐條叫我食飯我偏偏唔食,你惡死對我,我就搗亂。」

 不過,這些都是很久以前的事。她最近看透了許多,尤其看透了自己,知道自己的不足,也不像從前野心勃勃,要打入日本市場,打入世界市場。她說不相信有人會唱到識飛,事實自己就飛唔起。

「我以前脾氣好大,放o左收唔番好容易得罪人,寧願第日同人道歉至算。情緒波動又大,一個鐘頭喜怒哀樂可以做齊。自己個樣又衰,初出道果陣唔識人,唔敢出聲,人地話我扮Cool,招積。而家怕人話,總之一坐低就『辟哩巴啦』!亂講一通,點知仲弊,有時唔出聲,人地又話我唔開心。大佬,成日講,個口都會倦,要休息o架!」

梅艷芳其實是天生的喜劇人才,說話不單有戲劇性,用字高度形象化,肯自嘲,一揚一頓,非常有Timing。不過,她似乎對喜劇有種抗拒感,她以為人家找她拍喜劇不過是她肯「烏where」,實在是驚人地直言!其實喜劇也可以演得很有深度,像許冠文。

「拍《神探朱古力》的時候,許冠文要求很嚴格,一場戲排好多次好熟至拍攝,佢成日叫我誇張但要自然,自然得o黎又要誇張,又講好多o野俾我聽,不過唔係做戲,係關於人生,好深奧,我都唔知佢Up乜。」

梅艷芳對於如花一角下了不少功夫。起碼她會看過劇本。她說以前拍戲,從來不看劇本,導演叫埋位,講一次對白,照Up。「喜劇嘛,都唔駛演技,做番自己之嘛,實做得好o架。」

想做一個魔女

「你比較喜歡舞台?」

「我鍾意唱歌,又鍾意電影。因為我以歌入呢個圈,我當然關心唱歌多D。其實每次唱歌,我都加很多戲劇性入去,每首歌都像演繹一個故事。我喜歡舞台,它可以讓我盡情表演發揮。以前唱夜總會,我隻隻歌都度過點唱,o係台上面飛來飛去,人地以為我『痴』o左,咁落力。」

「但係不是隻隻歌你都鍾意?」

 「一隻碟都有兩三隻o既!又唔好咁悲觀。就算人地台下點自己唔鍾意唱o既歌!我都盡力做好,既然企得出o黎,就唔想苦口苦臉做得唔開心。」

「最近你隻碟o既形象無刻意求變,唔似你追求百變o既風格?」

「我今次諗o左個形象,仲犀利過妖女,叫做『魔』!我想講一個女人,佢係魔,係一種捉摸不定 o既o野!講魔由心生,人內心有天使和魔鬼,一時令到你好Down,冇晒信心,想自殺,完全係自己幻像。我講俾D填詞人聽,點知個個填返o黎都係講我!乜o野〈百變〉,〈妄想〉全部講我D o野!我話唔係講我,係講人地,點知聽唔明,冇辦法。」

「你不如自己試下填?」

「我識講,唔識做,填詞好難o架!終於隻碟變o左個淑女形象o忝。」

梅艷芳時刻都想改變形象,因為怕悶,她自己想塑造的,人家辦不到。別人叫她演的,她又不想。她不明白為什麼要她做一個「慘」的角色!我不像嘛!事有湊巧,梅艷芳憑苦口苦臉在《緣份》中奪得香港金像獎最佳新人獎,第一次拍電視劇《香江花月夜》亦是慘慘戚戚的,到如今又想演活《胭脂扣》如幽如怨的如花問鼎金馬獎。她自問「我個樣係唔係咁慘?」

一九八二梅艷芳第一次上台領獎,一身錯金縷體的風風光光,但,早熟和太濃郁的嗓子令她洗脫不了天涯歌女的形象,直至〈似水流年〉,大家都認為她比同齡的人走遠很多的路,因此可以滄桑得恰到好處。如今,她樂觀自恃,懷抱不拘,又像已順利越過了滄桑到另一光景吧!

文:林超榮