John Woo dips into Olympic talent pool

Director wants to work with Liu Xiang, Guo Jingjing

SHANGHAI -- John Woo has a case of Olympic fever.

The director told attendees at a charity dinner recently in Beijing that he hopes to make a sports movie with champion hurdler Liu Xiang and multiple gold medalist diver Guo Jingjing.

"I have wanted to produce a sports-themed movie for some time now," Woo said. "I want real athletes to be my lead actors so that we can portray the athlete's spirit accurately."

"I think Guo Jingjing and Liu Xiang will fit the bill," he added.

But with a trio of projects in the works -- including the sequel to "Red Cliff," the Chinese Revolution epic "1949" and an adaptation of the graphic novel "Caliber," starring Johnny Depp -- a sports film might not happen anytime soon.

"This is the first I have heard it," Terence Chang, Woo's longtime producing partner, said Wednesday from Los Angeles. "It's probably wishful thinking."

Asked whether he felt a sports film was right for Woo and Lion Rock, Chang said he hadn't thought about it and that he liked to find stories first and then think about the cast, "not the other way around."

Chang is returning to Beijing in early September, where he will work with writer Wang Hui-ling ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") on the sixth draft of the script for "1949," for which he said he is still raising money.

Liu, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, shocked China last week when he withdrew from the 110-meter hurdles heat because of an injury. However, he remains one of China's most recognizable sport celebrities.

Guo, who won two gold medals in Beijing, is considered the most successful female diver in Olympics history as well as one of the prettiest faces at the recently concluded Games.

Jonathan Landreth in New York contributed to this report.
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