Where do you call home: Paris or Hong Kong? And what do you like and dislike about each city? Genevieve Ho, Wong Tai Sin Hong Kong is home because this is where my roots are. My family and most of my best friends are here, and I've lived in the same flat for the last 12 years. I feel closer to Hong Kong than Paris, but I find I have to leave it once in a while to breathe. Hong Kong really gets on my nerves sometimes but when I'm away I think about it constantly. I know that sounds contradictory. I'm still learning and absorbing a lot of new things about Paris - the language, the culture - so it seems more stimulating. I'm less sure of myself when I'm there but get this great feeling of excitement when I'm on my own, taking the Metro and wandering around with my map. I'm still discovering the city so it's totally different to living in Hong Kong. In which part of Paris do you live? If I were to come and visit you, where would you take me for sightseeing, eating out and nightlife? Janice Wang, Sai Kung I live in central Paris. I'd send any visitor off with a map to explore the city on their own. If I had friends coming I'd take them to local places - that's what I find most interesting about Paris. We all know what the Eiffel Tower looks like and of course it's breathtaking to stand underneath it and look up, but I would take friends to little restaurants, shops, markets, pavement cafes for people-watching and to other friends' houses. At night I usually hang out at private house parties. I never really go to 'cool' clubs. The crowd you see at the Buddha Bar, for example, doesn't interest me much. They're just 'fashion-y' and hip, and you know what the night's going to be like before you even go out. What was it like working alongside Zhang Ziyi and Jet Li on Hero? Rumour has it there were sparks. Tse Man-chi, Cheung Chau No, no sparks. It was all very amicable: we were polite to one another, we liked each other but we didn't hang out together so there was no real friendship. In fact, we didn't even work together that much. It's the way [director] Zhang Yimou operates. One day I'd be on set, the next day I wouldn't and Jet Li would. It was a bit of a shame because I think communication between actors is important. I saw Tony [Leung Chiu-wai] a lot, though. That's the nature of acting - you bond for a few months while you're shooting, then say goodbye. You hope to keep in touch but it's not easy even if you want to. A friendship you make on set has to be really special for it to last. Michelle [Yeoh] and I are very close when we see each other but our paths hardly ever cross. If I'm in the East, she's bound to be in the West and vice versa. But when we do see each other, it's like, 'Oh, my friend, I've missed you,' and we talk non-stop. After nearly 20 years as an actress, do you ever think of doing something else, such as writing, directing or producing like Michelle Yeoh? Wilson Lee, Western I would like to move to the other side of the camera but I'm not sure what I'd do yet. I've considered directing but recently I've thought that I'd like to edit. I don't think that acting alone will fulfil me for the rest of my life, and I don't want to be doing the same kind of thing over and over. It would be far too boring. The Hong Kong economy has nose-dived and, with competition from cities like Shanghai, many say there's little hope of it ever fully recovering. Do you notice a change in confidence here? Samantha Sin, Western I've noticed that the mood is different almost everywhere I go, it's not just in Hong Kong. People seem less relaxed and more aggressive here but I don't think they are any grumpier. The only place where this doesn't seem to be the case is in China, where I've been shooting for the past five months. China is on the up and is the future of Asia. It may take 10 to 15 years before it dominates [the region], but I'm confident it will. Hong Kong should be more open to China because it will eventually become Hong Kong's backbone; the mainland needs Hong Kong as a stepping stone to Western cultures and international business. The cheongsams you wore in In The Mood For Love were beautiful. How many different dresses did you wear in the course of making that movie? Which was your favourite and did you get to keep any as souvenirs? Catherine Madden, Pokfulam I had 25 different outfits, which is a lot of dresses, but the blue one with the red roses was my favourite. I'd like to keep it as a memory of the film but I'd never wear it again. Although the film company told me I could have all of the cheongsams I wore, I haven't received a single one yet. I get a lot of offers to do commercials wearing a cheongsam, high heels and the hairstyle I had in the film but I turn them all down. I don't want to use what was so special to that film and capitalise on the look. Apart from anything else I'd end up being stereotyped. You smoke quite heavily and you work long hours, often overnight. How do you keep your complexion so clear? Carina Kwan, Mid-Levels I don't do much to make my skin look better. I'm not trying to be modest but I really don't. I think my skin is dry and blotchy from too much flying and jetlag, but you won't notice my problems - one only sees one's own. I try to drink as much water as I can. There is no magic skin cream and I don't think there will ever be one. Beauty comes from within and is affected by your health and mood. If you're happy, your skin will glow; if it looks grey, chances are you're tired and stressed. Nothing you put on it will really change that. Hero was shot in Dunhuang on the Silk Road, which is not one of the most modern or efficient parts of China. Was it a difficult shoot? Jimmy Lo, Central I expected it to be difficult. It's not Hong Kong or Paris and there are no five-star hotels. It was difficult because of the extremes of weather. Sometimes I could barely open my eyes because of the sand in the air. We had to cancel shooting once for a day because of a sandstorm - but it was great because it was my birthday. You expressed frustration at the way Wong Kar-wai works as a director, keeping actors in the dark and never knowing what is happening from day to day. How does Zhang Yimou, director of Hero, compare in his working style? Hilda Yee, Wan Chai They are complete opposites. I complained about the way Wong worked but now I appreciate it and actually prefer his way of directing. During filming with him, I got angry having to shoot the same scene five times, without really knowing what he was after. But then you see the result and you know why he did it - it's what gives his work such magic. I miss Wong a lot but the next time we work together I'm sure I'll complain again. Zhang knows exactly what he wants, which shot follows which shot ... the smallest detail of every scene. It's just a different way of working [to Wong]. Being too sure of what's going to happen isn't as much fun for actors - it's more the Hollywood way of working when everything is scripted perfectly. What's the news with Memoirs Of A Geisha. Are you still to be the star and when can we hope to see the project underway? Peter Lo, Kowloon The latest news I've had is that Steven Spielberg is going to produce, but not direct, the film. I don't know who's up for director and whether or not I've landed the lead role. I have met Steven but only for a relatively short period of time. He is down-to-earth and comes across as a very nice person. I'm sure he'd be great to work with. Do you feel comfortable with the idea of playing a Jap-anese woman? Why do you think Spielberg is looking for a Chinese woman to play the lead? Louisa Yip, North Point It's not that I'm uncomfortable with it, after all French actresses play Italians and Spanish actresses play Greeks so if I do a good job, why not? It's just I think Spielberg will lose something of the Japanese culture. I know the film is for a Western audience and it's forgiveable for them to think Chinese people look like the Japanese if they're not familiar with the two cultures. How are they supposed to know? I get confused with towns that I think are French but are in Italy, for example. But if a film is making a statement and wants to teach something, it should be real. It's hard to say whether I'll turn the part down if I am offered it. It depends on who will direct it and who the other cast members will be. My curiosity for a new experience is greater than my worries about the project. I'd love to work on a big Hollywood film. I want to see how they work, the scale of it all, the technology. Which of Hong Kong's handsome leading men do your prefer to star opposite and why? Isabella Wong, Sai Kung Do I have to choose a handsome man? Tony [Leung Chiu-wai] is the only one who interests me. We started our careers at the same time and have travelled the long road of acting together for 18 years. We understand what each other wants as an actor and we work towards the same goal. If you get two actors with different mentalities searching for different things, a film won't work. Johnny Depp is my favourite actor, although I've never worked with him and don't know him at all. I feel that his mentality is very close to mine: he experiments with different parts, he's daring, he takes risks, and he doesn't do things purely because they're commercial. I like to take risks, otherwise it gets boring just repeating the same old stuff. You have to grow with your work and constantly be alert to new challenges. When you come to Hong Kong, do you go on a shopping frenzy, or do you think that Hong Kong's reputation as a shopping paradise is largely a myth? Sarah Lovett, Central I prefer Paris for shopping. Fashion is too predictable here - you have all the big brands and there aren't any little shops selling just earrings or belts like there are in Paris. Also, if I go into a department store here with, say, only 30 minutes to get everything I need, I spend about 25 minutes being stopped by passers-by or saying hi to people, and I don't get anything done. When you walk around Paris, do Parisians stop you for your autograph, or are you largely unknown to French people? Ken Lowe, Lantau I have complete freedom in Paris. People recognise me more now [since In The Mood For Love] but they are so cool about celebrities. They just want to express how much they like your work - and say thank you for your film. Can you imagine that? Saying thank you? That never happens in Hong Kong. Here, people comment on your appearance - how beautiful you are, or how you're not so beautiful. I hate that. I know I've got bags under my eyes - I don't need to be reminded of that by a complete stranger. I'm not always bothered about being watched, I'm used to it. But it's harder in China because they see actors so rarely and are much less shy about coming forward to express their feelings about who you are and what you do. How many films have you made, and which are you proudest of in terms of the movie as a whole and your own performance? Stella Li, Stanley I've made about 74 or 75 films so far and would have to say that In The Mood For Love was best on both counts. It was my most mature work. What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of Hong Kong cinema compared to the movie industries of Hollywood and Europe? Daniel King, Central Hong Kong cinema has great individual style but it's not growing with the rest of the world. Watching a Hong Kong film today is like seeing what I did 18 years ago. It's sad because the industry hasn't changed, and most directors have very narrow vision. Hong Kong film-makers should make movies with greater global appeal and artistic originality. When was the last time you went to a cinema and what did you see? Was the movie worth the entrance fee? Anders Johanssen, Central I went to see Vanilla Sky about three weeks ago. I love going to the cinema but because of work I hadn't been for at least five months. I went with 11 friends and we made it into a real event - we had popcorn, Coke, the lot. We marched into the cinema, we laughed, were probably far too noisy and we had a laugh. It was worth the entrance fee because I was with close friends and having great fun. Which actresses do you find inspirational? Who are your heroines both in the movies and in other walks of life? Miranda Kwai, Sheung Wan I find Johnny Depp an inspiration but my movie heroines come from my childhood, such as Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz and Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music. I used to think they were wonderful but would confuse the film with reality: they made people happy, they sang so well - and Julie Andrews had all those kids to look after! I admire lots of different people but there's no specific woman I look up to. Where were you on September 11 and how have you been affected by the tragedy? David Meikle, Quarry Bay I was in Paris and, yes, I was affected. It makes me sad that such events can happen. You should see them only in films - if at all - not in real life. Of course, I'm aware that there are wars going on all the time, but it was shocking that people could to do something so calculated, violent and cruel. How does promoting a luxury watch company sit with your aspirations to be seen as a serious actress? Jennifer Tang, Central Working with Ebel doesn't conflict with my life as an actress because of what the company wants from me. It's not a cold, money-making contract where I do the hard sell and then take my money and run. Ebel wants me to be me - not someone I'm not - and my personality connects to the character of the watches. It's a friendly thing. The people at Ebel always ask me what I think and feel so there's mutual respect. What are your hopes for the future - for yourself, for Hong Kong and for the world? Jason Yan, Sheung Wan Peace, of course, but doesn't everyone want that? I want the world to grow, but to not become too hi-tech, and people to remember that nature is the essence of everything. After all, the best things in life are free. If everyone remembers that, then it's okay for Hong Kong and the world to advance in terms of technology. I want to keep learning and never stop growing in terms of experience. If in five years you find me doing something completely different you'll know I'm totally happy. question of the week It has been said that you have a dislike for the Hong Kong media. Why? Have they treated you unfairly in the past? Kerry Chan, Tai Po 'The Hong Kong media treats everybody unfairly. Most reporters write what they think will sell - scandal and bad news, never anything good - and don't care about the damage they do to that person and to his or her family and loved ones. It's bad for the readers to be fed this junk too. About 10 per cent of the European media concentrates on this kind of news; it's more like 95 per cent in Hong Kong'