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Chinese actor Tong Dawei going global

(Xinhua)

10:50, May 18, 2012

CANNES, France, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese actor Tong Dawei is no stranger to the red carpet of most international film festivals, and the 65th Cannes film festival that kicked off here on Wednesday is no exception.

This time he has come to promote "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains," an action film co-directed by Sun Jianjun from China and Bob Brown from the United States. Tong plays the role of a Japanese businessman who tries to rob a famous Chinese painting in the movie.

All his lines in the movie are in English, which proved to be a bit challenging for 33-year-old Tong. Luckily, he has been preparing for this long and hard.

"I have always been trying to learn and arm myself, not that I am ambitious, but I prefer to be well prepared so that I won't let any good chances slip away," Tong told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on the opening day of the Cannes film festival.

He hired a native language coach who helped him improve English on a daily basis, and has developed a habit of watching English TVs and movies channels in his spare time.

"Unlike the old days when Chinese actors and actresses could only play insignificant roles in western films, global film companies now give more attention to Chinese artists, and the way ahead is quite promising," he said.

Tong also said he would be thrilled to co-star with Leonardo DiCaprio, as he admired the American actor's resolution in constantly challenging himself and trying various characters in movies.

Famed for starring in a series of popular TV series and films for the past few years, Tong has not only become a household name and a youth icon in China, but also a rising star being recognized internationally.

Most recently, "The Flowers of War," a historical war drama by the most famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, in which Tong starred as Major Li who died as a hero during China's anti-Japanese war, has been nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film.

He lost 16 pounds and underwent military-like trainings for this tragic role, and he constantly reminded himself to imagine it in his mind as "a father who has a daughter" throughout the shootings so as to better portray the character.

His hard work had paid off.

The film, while making Tong the first Chinese actor to step on the red carpet of the Golden Globe, also brought him to the 62nd Berlin Film Festival, where it had its European premier.

"I feel so lucky to be part of the movie. It makes me realize that an actor needs to be fully prepared inside and out, from appearance to mind," Tong said.

Tong is married to the Chinese actress Guan Yue and they have a little daughter.

"It was really tough for me, a huge challenge, but we want it to be perfect," as he told American filmmaker James Cameron last month during the shootings of a television interview program in Beijing.

Back in 2008, Tong came to Cannes film festival for the first time as a leading actor in the war epic "Red Cliff Part II" directed by John Woo. Before that, the film "Lost in Beijing" had held its international premier at Berlin film festival and then got him nominated as the Best New Actor of Pusan Film Critics Awards in 2007.

"With the experience of attending many international film festivals, I no longer give myself too much pressure. For every film festival outside China, the only purpose for me is to let more people know about Chinese films," he said.

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