'Last Emperor' Actress Joan Chen on Bernardo Bertolucci: "He Seduced You Into Pleasing Him"

Ralph Dominguez/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom
Chen with Bertolucci in 1987.

The actress recalls how the director, who died Nov. 26, "took his time" during the shoot for the 1987 film: "He was a considerate director, he didn't torture the actors."

He was so well-read. He would quote ancient Chinese philosophers, people I'd never read myself, like Lao-tzu and Zhuangzi. He made me want to go back and do more reading.

But he was also fun to talk to.

We met the first time at the Chateau Marmont; we had coffee, and he was so charming. We shot the movie in China; the whole shoot was eight months. He took his time, but he could afford to — the actors were practically free. But he was a considerate director, he didn't torture the actors. He seduced you into pleasing him.

I recall doing a scene where the emperor and the two empresses were in bed, and he was like a kid. He kept saying, "I so want to get in bed with all of you!"

This story also appears in the Nov. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.