Bangkok, Feb 2: Michelle Yeoh's transformation into pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi for “The Lady” gave her insight into both an incredible love story and the Burmese Nobel Prize winner's ongoing political battle.
Yeoh says she had been pursuing a role that would challenge her, and was instantly drawn to the French-English co-production, directed by Luc Besson.
The former Miss Malaysia beauty queen and star of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” says it was an honor to play Aung San:
“In ‘91, I remember being very proud of the fact that an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) woman, you know, had received the Nobel Peace Prize. And, you know, it's very inspiring for any young Asian woman to think that, you know. And then when you discover what she?why she was getting the Nobel Peace Prize, you know, what she was fighting for - a petite woman who was fighting for democracy in a non-violent way, where with passion was the armor, love, you know, for liberty was the weapon.”
Aung San Suu Kyi has devoted her whole life to fighting for democracy in Burma - now referred to as Myanmar.
In 1990 she won a general election in her country, but was held under house arrest by the military government for more than fifteen years.
In 1999 Aung San decided it was too dangerous to accept a trip to England to see her husband, who was dying of cancer.
She was eventually released in 2010, whilst Yeoh was filming the biopic in Thailand.
“When she was released from house arrest, you know, I remember that morning,” Yeoh recalls.
“I was doing the scene where I was, as Daw Suu, coming up the gates and waving to her people. And then, you know, in the afternoon we were all in my room - with Luc Besson, David Thewlis, young?the real Kim Aris, my Kim?young Kim Aris, and Alex, you know, and we were watching them and going ‘didn't we just do this?' You know, it was just?and we were so crazily happy, because you know, finally it seemed she was free.”
Following Aung San's release, Yeoh flew to meet her in person.
“I guess when I went there, I was extremely nervous because I was afraid she would look at me and go ‘oh my God. Why are you portraying me?' (laughing),” she reveals.
“But when I?when she was in front of me, all she did was she opened up her arms and welcomed me like a family member. So we just sat down, and she wanted to know what?she was very curious about you, she makes you feel right at home. And then after a while, you think ‘wait a minute, I should be asking all the questions'.”