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Michelle Yeoh, Star Of 'The Lady' (INTERVIEW)

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Michelle Yeoh stars as Aung San Suu Kyi in 'The Lady'
Michelle Yeoh stars as Aung San Suu Kyi in 'The Lady'

"I don't think she's brave enough to watch the movie yet. I lived through that for two and a half months, and you feel the heartbreak, and she went through it for ten years of her life."

Michelle Yeoh may have been garnering rave reviews for her portrayal of Burmese icon Aung San Suu Kyi, but one person she isn't expecting a reaction from immediately is the lady herself:

"Yes, there were happy moments when she was campaigning for her people, being with her people and her family," reflects Yeoh in London.

"But then came the solitude and heartbreak at the end when (her husband) Michael Aris was dying. When you see the film, it relives all that, and I think that would be very tough to watch."

The public story - of Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi's longtime house arrest in her native country while she campaigned for peaceful political change - is celebrated throughout the world. Less well known is her private sacrifice, living apart from her family who were based in England, and not even being at the side of Aris when he died in 1999?

The couple hadn't seen each other for more than three years, so who does Yeoh think ultimately paid a bigger price, husband or wife?

"I think at the end of the day, if I know them well enough, they won't think of it as a sacrifice," says Yeoh, who has been preparing for this film for years, including meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010, when she remained under house arrest in Burma.

"It was a commitment right from the beginning, and probably something that they knew would come.

"Right from the beginning, when Michael Aris met and fell in love with this beautiful woman, he knew who she was, and she always said she would go back, but they believed they would go back as a family.

"The junta (Burmese military) really tried to break their spirit, so this bound them even closer. So it was painful, but when you see what other things are happening over there, you don't think about your own sacrifice, you almost feel it is nothing, in fact, they would have considered it a privilege to behave as they did."

Yeoh has herself experienced the kind of oppression inflicted on the woman she portrays, being deported from Burma last year, with her name on a blacklist for visiting Aung San Suu Kyi the year before. Is she apprehensive of any further threat?

"It's historical, the facts are there, we didn't fabricate them," is how she describes her sense of resolution, before making it clear she is not trying to be an instructor in politics.

"When it is real person, especially who means so much to millions of people, you have an obligation, you cannot take liberties, you cannot pretend to know.

"But we are telling the love story of Michael Aris and his wife, the story of a beautiful, lush country, and the emotions of a mother. It's our duty as filmmakers to give you that emotional ride rather than to teach you politics.

"And I don't feel any fear in a sense, because I have every good intention in my heart. When you face up to bad things in the past, the most important thing is not to allow them to happen today or in the future, and as storytellers, we must play our part in that."

Watch the trailer below:

Around the Web

Michelle Yeoh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michelle Yeoh - IMDb

MICHELLE YEOH WEB THEATRE

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