Actress Gong Li says actors do not need acting skills, just heart


Actress Gong Li at 11th Beijing International Film Festival on Sept 20, 2021. Photo: AP

Actress Gong Li has sparked a debate on the Internet with her comment that actors do not need acting skills, as reported by Chinese media.

At a workshop at the Beijing International Film Festival on Friday (Sept 24), Gong, 55, was sharing on her acting experience when she was asked about her understanding of the term "acting skills".

"I think the term is not quite right. Actors do not need skills," the China-born Singaporean actress said.

"Actors should use their heart to play the roles, as characters created through skills will be stiff."

Gong, who is the chairman of the festival jury, said: "Acting skills are not like athletes' sporting skills, but you should prepare in advance if your role has a special identity or special skills. No matter how they will be displayed in the films, the skills must grow on you."

She used her role as chief geisha Hatsumomo in the Hollywood film Memoirs Of A Geisha (2005) as an example.

She had to twirl fans around for a scene, which film director Rob Marshall deemed as important.

Gong thought the scene would last at least five minutes and spent months perfecting the move. It eventually lasted only one second in the film.

Some Chinese netizens agreed with her comments, while others said it applied only to certain experienced actors like herself and young actors should hone their skills step by step.

Gong rose to fame after acting in Chinese director Zhang Yimou's film Red Sorghum (1987) and went on to star in many well-known movies such as Ju Dou (1990), Raise The Red Lantern (1991) and The Story Of Qiu Ju (1992).

More recently, she played shape-shifting witch in Hollywood fantasy action film Mulan (2020) and Chinese volleyball coach Lang Ping in the Chinese biographical sports film Leap (2020). – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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