A dream team of movie stars from China and Japan gathered in Tokyo on Monday to promote Memoirs of a Geisha the first big-budget Hollywood romance to feature an almost entirely Asian cast.
Based on a best-selling novel, backed by Steven Spielberg and directed by Rob Marshall of the multiple Oscar-winning Chicago, Memoirs has generated enormous media interest.
The cast adds up to Asia's A-list, with China's Ziyi Zhang starring as Sayuri, a poor fisherman's daughter who transforms herself into a legend of Kyoto's mysterious entertainment world in the 1930s. The two other leading roles are played by Gong Li, also of China, and ethnic Chinese Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, with Japanese performers relegated to secondary roles.
Memoirs, reported to have cost its makers $85 million, can ill afford to alienate moviegoers in Japan, the second biggest market for Hollywood films.
Dressed in anoff-whitecocktail dress with her hair piled high, Zhang told a packed news conference she saw the film as a step forward for Asian actors. I am really grateful to Rob Marshall for giving us this incredible chance to show the whole world Asian actors' ability, she said on Monday. We can do so much more than people think.