Maggie Cheung Casts Her Spell

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Maggie Cheung Casts Her Spell

Near the end of the 5th Pusan International Film Festival, the arrival of Maggie Cheung, 34, star of "Best Actress" and "Comrades, Almost A Love Story," lifted movie fans' spirits.

"In the Mood for Love," her new film directed by Wong Kar Wai, was chosen to close the festival.

Cheung, a slender woman with vivid dark eyes, took time out from her busy schedule to talk to us in her hotel room. Just as with other superstars, her bodyguards were always close by.

"In the Mood for Love" is the story of a man and a woman both agonizing over their spouses' adultery yet lacking the courage to follow their own hearts. The movie is evidence that director Wong is dealing with more mature and complex issues. Cheung's co-star in the movie, Tony Leung, won the award for best male actor at this year's Cannes International Film Festival.

In 1992, Cheung won the award for best female actress at the Berlin Film Festival, the highlight of her career. She retired the following year, saying she needed rest. In 1998, after enduring more than a little tabloid gossip over her retirement, she made a successful comeback with "Comrades, Almost A Love Story."

The same year, she married the French movie director Olivier Assayas.

Cheung said that something in the movie "In the Mood for Love" resonated with her own experience. However, she said there were plenty of problems shooting the film - mostly because of Wong's incorrigible style of casting the actor first and worrying about the character later. It also took over 15 months to shoot the film, and this worried her.

"So I decided this would be the last time I work with Wong," Cheung said.

That was until she saw the final cut of the movie. Now she is not so sure.

"Wang has a way of getting people to come back," she said, which suggests conflicting feelings.

We asked Cheung why she arrived so late in Korea. "It was my schedule - I was afraid I might be too late," she said.

Describing herself as a complicated person easily swayed by emotion, Cheung said she always tried to "become part of a movie and learn the life within."

Cheung plans to visit China and Europe to promote "In the Mood for Love" and prepare for her next venture. "I try not to think too much of the distant future," she said. "After all, who knows what'll happen next?"

by Shin Yong-ho

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