The 85th annual Academy Awards took place on Feb. 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here is what this Oscar winner said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.
(“Life of Pi”)
Everybody in Taiwan is jumping up and down right now. Can you share your excitement and your journey for the whole process of “Life of Pi” and how excited you are?
As you know, 90 percent of the movie was shot in Taiwan, and they gave us a lot of physical help, location and also financial help. And that’s a town of passion. So my best wish to win this is actually come up and thank people I need to thank, including people in Taiwan. So it’s a very sweet moment for me.
I have to say I screw up little bit because there are six Indian names I want to mention and I couldn’t say them very fast, so I skip them. They’re Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Ayush, Tandon.
And then French movie star Gérard Depardieu and English actor Rafe Spall. This is really an international film. I’m glad that Taiwan got to contribute this much to the film, and therefore, present the movie to the whole world. I just feel like this movie really belongs to the world. I’m very happy that I get this and I share the excitement with all the Taiwanese people and the Chinese and Asian people everywhere.
How you’re going to celebrate tonight because you not only won this big Oscar, it’s one of the big Chinese festivals tonight. So do you have any special plans for that?
Yeah. The official closing of the Chinese New Year, for two weeks we celebrate for 15 days, longer than anybody, I think. Yeah, it’s a great celebration. It’s a nightly event and this is a great night for me and for everybody who liked the movie, particularly in Asia they help make this movie.
I wish them a happy new Year of the Snake. Everybody gets lucky. Here’s the thing: I think it’s a miracle that I could make this movie and then I carried the anxiety for a very long time, for four years.
It’s a philosophical book and an expensive movie, the worst combination, the most scary one, and just see how it’s played out in the world. So coming in tonight I just thought everything is good. So good. And this is better than good.
“Life of Pi” had a lot of visual effects and it was done in 3-D. Would you like to take on the experience once again of working with this type of filmmaking?
Absolutely. Well, visual effects for sure. I think it’s a great, great visual art. I refuse to think those are technicians that work, hundreds of them work by the computers. We create something that’s visual art.
The movie I could think of that I want to follow is “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It’s a sheer visual experience and a visceral and psychological journey. That is, I think, movies at [their] purest. So I think visual effects, yes.
The bad news, it’s too expensive. It’s very hard. We heard about [visual-effects studio- Rhythm & Hues. And 3-D, absolutely. I think it’s brand new, not brand new, but a very new cinematic language and I think we keep on trying.
Once it gets cheaper and easier, more filmmakers are going to dive into that and create something more and more interesting. And that language will establish the audience in the future. I see there’s a quite brilliant future and I will try it again if I can afford it.
I don’t know if I’m going to do “OK budget” movie or a “small budget” movie. Maybe after this I don’t have that problem. But certainly I want to try it again.
You have had you have had great success in Hollywood, but you’ve been through a lot of obstacles. Looking back on the past year, what were the biggest difficulties you have faced and then how did you overcome them?
Definitely culturally. This is my adapted culture, even though I grow up watching American movies. The mainstream movies especially; all movies are very much established here in America.
And just in terms of moviemaking, nobody’s as sophisticated as here. I’m not even talking about art, but craft and the cinematic language, the grammar is very much established here. So that’s something I have to I’m not unfamiliar with, but I have to adapt because it’s related to American culture.
But movie is basically sight and sound; it’s overcome able. I spoke broken English when I did “Sense and Sensibility.” After that, I thought it can be done. I just have to work harder.
I think that’s that’s movies. It’s sight and sound. You can do a lot. You can you can overcome cultural barriers, but you have to overcome that. You have to be more diligent.
I think sometimes disadvantage can be an advantage. The reason is I come from another culture, which actually enriches and make me special, so when I adapt English-language way of thinking, culture, and work with great people here, adapted to the major league production, that makes me more special and powerful. I think it’s actually an advantage.
You know, it’s like one culture in my left side of the brain, the other is the right. You can use both sides of your head. It’s an advantage. So I encourage a lot more Asian filmmakers to give it a try. And also you reach the world culture. It really starts out here in Hollywood.
This is the second time you won an Oscar for Best Director without winning Best Picture for that film.
And both [times] announced by Jack Nicholson. I was backstage with him and he was like right there close to the door and he says, “Crash.” This time, everybody expected “Argo” to win. It’s Jack Nicholson.
Did you think third time will be the charm for you? Is there a Best Picture in the future for you?
Well, the Best Picture requires so many things. Is it necessarily the best picture artistically, I don’t know. It’s just most people, they feel like it’s the most beloved movie this year by our industry. So whether to get it or not, I’m very proud of everybody work with me. I want to share this with them.
To me, this is for them. It’s like Best Picture, whatever I get. I think everybody got it tonight in our group would feel the same way. They really want to share with everybody working the film, the family. Maybe third time we get it. But I’m very happy to get this. And very importantly, I really think this is for everybody’s work on the film.
For more info: Academy Awards website
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