"Memoirs of a Geisha"

Japan Press Conference Video

Michelle Yeoh and Rob Marshall

January 31, 2005

These are selected video clips from the "Memoirs of a Geisha" Japan Press Conference. Director Rob Marshall and actress Michelle Yeoh's speeches are the only ones in English.

1. Michelle Yeoh

   Clip 1:  Realmedia (3.3M)  Windhows Media (8.6M)   [2:05]
   Clip 2:  Realmedia (1.9M)  Windhows Media (5.0M)   [1:12]


Memoirs of a Geisha - Sayuri - was a fantasy when I read the book, and I always wanted to be a part of it. I met Spielberg when he was first doing the movie and last year when I had the privilege of meeting Rob Marshall. I almost wanted to get down on my knees and say please! Please let me do this!

I play Mameha, the mentor to Sayuri and it is a very, very challenging role. I think probably one of the most challenging roles I have ever done in my entire career. She is the epitome of the geisha. She is the supermodel of the supermodels, and I had to teach Sayuri what to do. So first of all, to be able to do that, I had to learn. And I hope you all will forgive me if I have not done the best job, but trust me that I put total dedication and passion into making Mameha into what you would see very soon.

Filming with this amazing cast is a dream come true. First of all, working with Rob Marshall, who is General Marshall to us (Michelle salutes in Marshall's direction), who led us through treacherous terrain...there were great moments, there were hard moments, there were cold moments - there was every moment in the dictionary. And he was passionate. And we all love you! We would do anything for you. If you want to do the sequel or the prequel, we're there. Whatever you want to do, we are there for you! So, this amazing cast - every day I learn something from them. I learned the graciousness, the appreciation. I learned how to be a dedicated performer. And even from Suzuka, I learned the wonder of filmmaking, the joy, the innocence, the happiness. So thank you, everybody who has been involved with this and made my dream come true to be part of this. Thank you!

Well, Rob Marshall, to start off, is a beautiful soul. We all really know how privileged we are, having this opportunity to work with someone who is so patient. Can you imagine? There is this man, who is standing there. There is Chinese, Japanese, and all of us talking with each other. Me and Gong Li in Mandarin, they (she looks around at people) in Japanese, and Rob is standing there, "Hmm...yes, have you guys finished? All right, somebody tell me what is going on!" He is extremely generous, patient - there is no detail too small that you could question about, ask him what he felt about if you did a thing a certain way. He always gave you the time, the space, to be creative. But to be honest, he is silk and steel. He is very clear about his vision, he is very clear about each character, and he is the one who has to be, because we are all on our paths, trying to be the best...you know, the brightest - and he has to bring us all back in.

2. Rob Marshall

   Clip 1:  Realmedia (3.2M)    [2:00]
   Clip 2:  Realmedia (2.9M)    [1:48]


Thank you so much for having us. This is such an honor and a privilege to be here today, and one of the great things for us is we get to be together. Our journey was so exquisite and so unique, and to be with each other and look at each other in the face again is really magnificent for us, so thank you for bringing us together. We love that part of it.

We finished filming here on Saturday in your beautiful country, and it was an inspiring journey here in Japan. Every day here was beyond beautiful. We were in Kyoto and also in Tokyo shooting. And opening their arms and letting us into this country with such joy. We were honored to be shooting at places that had never been shot before, which was extraordinary for us. The Fushimiinari Shrine in Kyoto, which was awe-inspiring. We had our beautiful Suzuko with us there, which was fantastic. And the Kiyomizu Temple - the Temple on Stilts, as we called it - which was unbelievable..

So...we had shot most of our movie, just so you understand, in Los Angeles. We did that specifically because the movie takes place in Japan in the 20s and the 30s and the 40s and we couldn't find any place that looked like that anymore, so we had to build our own Japan. And we built it in Ventura, California, where the hills look very much like Kyoto. That's where the majority of the film was shot, but then, of course, we were able to come here for the end of our journey. It's been thrilling and life changing, so thank you. Thank you, you're a beautiful country. We're really honored. Thank you so much.

Do I ever get mad? Hmm...not in front of the actors. This was a very difficult film to make mostly because of the schedule. You know, we had a very short amount of time to make this sort of large epic movie, so any kind of frustration came from not having enough time. But for me, it's very important that the tone on the set is a constructive, joyous place to work where you have great freedom. So, if that is abused and people are feeling edgy or feeling criticized - to me, you can't work like that. So I was lucky enough to have this extraordinary cast - the best actors, I think, in the world - and to have them with me was an honor and a privilege every day. So I was in heaven being with them every day, that part of it was joyous, and it was important for me to protect them. I feel very protective always about the actors I work with because I want them to be free to create. Very important to me. So if I ever felt anything inside like that, it was important that I never let them feel that or see that ever because they are there to do their work and my job is to give them that freedom.

(Thanks Janguruguru, Arnold, BAM and Dean for the help with the video clips and transcripts)

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