Christina M. Hinke


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Interview with Ang Lee

by Christina M. Hinke
Feb. 1, 2006

Brokeback Mountain received top honors at the Golden Globes this January, reigning in four of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awards, including Best Dramatic Film and Best Director for Ang Lee.

Christina M. Hinke: Why Michelle Williams?
Ang Lee: I didn’t see her in Dawson’s Creek, but I had a feeling about her genuineness. Then I met her and I believed she was that part. I made up my mind when she walked in. She’s very close to how I see that person. I think she has a genuine ability. She almost struck me as a child actor. But of course she’s more mature and experienced. You can tell her something and she’ll stare you into the eyes straight. She’ll believe in it and she’ll be in that zone. I know she wants to be a serious actress. She looks serious. But basically she’s genuinely that character.

Christina M. Hinke: Did you relate to one character more than the other?
Ang Lee: Heath. He’s the anchorman for the movie. He carried the thing I always carry in my movies, which is repression. He had more inner conflict. He carried that western thing - the non-verbal culture, tough, conservative, fear, violence, and vulnerability. He’s more of a macho lover.

Christina M. Hinke: Are these characters gay or just guys that fall in love because of the circumstances?
Ang Lee: To me they’re gay because of their sexual inclination. Jack is more obvious. In the short story it’s very hard to tell. It’s a mystery. So is the script. But as players, I think we need to know at heart what physically arouses them. I do believe that they are attracted to each other; even thought one character denies it.

Christina M. Hinke: Do you think it’s the first time for both of them?
Ang Lee: I think Jack knows. He’s more knowingly from the beginning. That’s how we play it. They’re aware of the danger, but constantly they’re trying to figure out how far to get in.

Christina M. Hinke: Gus Van Sant was once attached to the project and had problems casting actors. What do you think is the difference between you and him that enabled you to cast Heath and Jake? Is it because he’s gay and you are not?
Ang Lee: I think maybe the timing was right. I put it aside before I did the Hulk. The Wedding Banquet was difficult. I couldn’t get any established actors. I think over the years, gradually actors are more willing to try this out. I think at this point they’re still hesitant to have too much of it.

Christina M. Hinke: In Brokeback and The WeddingBanquet your main character is a closeted gay man. What is it that interests you about this subject matter?
Ang Lee: For this movie it was just the short story it was based on. This is such a romantic love story. I just fell in love with it. The first one (The WeddingBanquet) I did the writing myself. They both feel very different to me. I don’t choose to do a gay-related movie because they are gay or they’re not. I will do it again and again if the story is good, but I won’t do it again if nothing strikes me.

Christina M. Hinke: Have you always wanted to do something set in the West?
Ang Lee: It was just this script. It hit me. It has a post-Western setting. It occurs in a part of America that most foreign people don’t know about through Hollywood movies. It’s the other side of America (that depicted by Hollywood) that is really influential to the world. That struck me as something interesting. I made this movie to try and find out more.

Christina M. Hinke: Did you rediscover your love for filmmaking in this film?
Ang Lee: I was totally beat from previous movies. I was so tired. (The actual) filmmaking is just the tip of the iceberg. Filmmaking involves a lot of social obligations, that’s the part that really drowns me. It’s quite abusive, especially (when I am) doing bigger movies like Crouching Tiger and The Hulk. I have to make bigger decisions. The movie (making) part I like. I never get tired of it. I could work (long) straight hours for months and I would still love it. I deliberately wanted to make a smaller movie. I think the subject matter was under the radar. And I didn’t have a lot of cinematic vision, except (to) make the day and (to) secure the performances. Now there is a lot of love for the movie and I have to deal with the monster (the social obligations) again.

Copyright 2006 Christina M. Hinke. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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