[This is a translation from an interview published September 18, 2008 by the Chinese news service NorthNet.com (link to original article)]
Zhao Wei [Vicki Zhao] is still very informal, so it should not have been surprising when she showed up unexpectedly at a press screening of "Painted Skin" (Hua Pi 画皮), then sat among the journalists and watched the movie with them. It was not until the last of the press had applauded and left the theater that she also left, happily, but before leaving she took time to talk with NorthNet.com's entertainment and art editor Liu Xiaojing 刘晓菁. Although she is doing graduate work in directing at the Beijing Film Academy, she does not intend to be a full-time director; and although her star status draws crowds wherever she appears, she has no objection to appearing in a supporting role. As she expresses it, "I already have everything I should have, and what I do now are the things I'm interested in. If the day comes that I say goodbye to the screen, it will be because my interests have changed."
Likes Variety in Roles: "Red Cliff 2" Even More Comical
Her recent roles have been marked by unique styles. In "Painted Skin," her character Mrs. Wang is someone subjected to constant abuse; in [upcoming TV series] "Epic of a Woman" (Yige Nüren de Shishi一个女人的史诗), she plays the lead character across a wide age range; and in the still unreleased second half of "Red Cliff" (Chi Bi, xia 赤壁, 下), her comical character Sun Shangxiang is a supporting role, with Zhou Xun in the lead.
Why did she take the role in "Painted Skin"? She answers this by saying, "The principle I follow now in accepting a role is whether the story is good, and I don't even consider what my part in it might be. But when I was acting this role, I got really depressed, because the character is so weak and suppressed, just so different from who I am. I pleaded with director Chen Jia [Gordon Chan]: Can't I be a little stronger? But he refused, so all I could do was continue being gloomy, because that's what the role demanded."
So Zhao Wei looks upon this as a one-time leap, and in episode 2 of "Red Cliff" she and Zhang Fengyi will play rivals, with comic results. "In the second episode my character is a comic spy, a 'special agent' planted to keep an eye on Cao Cao. But it's actually a very interesting role, a bit like the part Sun Li plays in "Painted Skin." [The character] Sun Shangxiang has what she thinks is a masterful plan for "spying" on Cao Cao, but ultimately she fails and returns."
Clearing up Rumors: Not Seeking a Mate From the Same Circle
"Engaged to Huang Xiaoming!" "Fallen Into the River of Love With a Certain Painter!" During the interview Zhao Wei did not evade discussing these rumors about her. Instead, she smiled and said, "My old relationship with Huang Xiaoming is common knowledge, but there is nothing fresh about it. People have said these things in the past, but now it's just a beautiful memory. As for the other rumor, that's even more unfounded. I'm still a human being, and have to take into consideration there are a great many other things I want to do." Regarding romance, Zhao Wei candidly admitted there is no special relationship in her life right now, and she is just going where life takes her. "It's also unlikely any future mate would be someone from the same [movie] circle, but someone in a different occupation, because when you have spent the whole day working with people in the same circle it can get really tiresome after a while. I'd like to have someone who offers me some fresh perspectives."
Concentrating on Performing: Can't do two Things Wholeheartedly at Once
Zhao Wei returned to school because her favorite teacher Cui Xinqin 崔新琴 was now teaching graduate classes, and hoped Zhao Wei would continue advanced study. Smiling, Zhao says, "My road has not been one I chose to follow; others pointed the way, but no one taught me how to follow it." Since she has chosen to do her advanced study in directing, not again in acting, "Does this mean you are preparing to be a full-time woman director?" Zhao Wei hesitated a bit before answering, then said "Probably not, because women directors often must devote so much of their time to it, and I still want to perform. I'm not very good at throwing myself wholeheartedly into two things at once. Actually, someone once invited me to produce a film, but I declined because I honestly didn't think I'd be very good at it." Zhao Wei says very candidly that one day she might say good-bye to the screen, but right now she is doing things she enjoys doing, and "I"m motivated by my interests, rather than fame and fortune. For example, movies, singing, the opportunity to work with great directors, these are all things that give me experience and training."