'The Lady's' Michelle Yeoh Rejoices Over Release of Dissident Zarganar
BUSAN, South Korea -- Actress Michelle Yeoh and director Luc Besson hailed news of the release of Burmese comic Zarganar, calling it "joyful news," as the pair discussed the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady on Wednesday.
"Yes!" Yeoh exclaimed when the release, which also took place Wednesday, was confirmed. "It shows the new government is really trying to do something," she said. Besson called the move "really good news and a real good sign."
Yeoh and Besson had just finished describing the comic's plight as an example of human rights violations in Myanmar, as the country is now known. Zarganar was imprisoned in 2008 after criticizing the government's response to Cyclone Nargis, killing over 140,000 people, the BBC reported.
Yeoh said she was "proud" of the film and to play the Nobel Prize-winning dissident, whom she referred to throughout by as Daw Suu, as she is known in her native Myanmar.
The Malaysian-born actress met Suu Kyi in Dec. 2010, at that time the only member of The Lady's production to be granted a visa to Myanmar. "I was very nervous, extremely overwhelmed," Yeoh said. "She gave me the biggest hug," with the former martial arts star saying that despite her small stature, Suu Kyi is both physically and spiritually very strong.
Yeoh said she jumped at the chance to play Suu Kyi. "When do you get the chance to play someone like this, especially someone who is Asian, who is a woman, who fights only with words?"
One of the biggest challenges she faced was learning Burmese, in order to stage a famous speech given by Suu Kyi upon her return to Myanmar from the U.K.
"I had to give that speech like a Burmese, not like a Chinese girl trying to speak Burmese," Yeoh said.
The Lady is set for U.S. release in Dec. Besson said he expected a Hong Kong release in Feb. 2012.