Mui-interview of those days
summary page of interviews
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.]
[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.
《電影雙周刊》 第225期 1987年10月29日
「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。」
「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。」