French film star Jane March [Photo:Mtime.com]
Film star Jane March may not be a household name in China, but many filmgoers here remember how she looked 19 years ago.
When she acted opposite Hong Kong actor Tony Leung in The Lover, the film adapted from French writer Marguerite Duras' semi-biographical novel, she was only 17.
Her look in the 1992 film, with a man's fedora, is a familiar image for many art film fans in China, including director Wang Jing, who could think of no one better when casting for her new film Perfect Baby.
In the China-France co-produced romantic comedy, March plays a poet and perfectionist, whose relationship with an energetic Chinese man makes her realize that maybe imperfection is the truth of life and one has to learn to enjoy it.
"It is a great time for me to perform in another film related to China after so many years," March says, during a recent trip to Beijing for post-production.
But before Wang flew to London to meet her in 2010, she had no idea how well known The Lover is in China.
"Neither did I know I was such a big presence in her life," she says. "Wang told me the film influenced many girls, especially 17- or 18-year-olds, who were kind of exploring sexuality."
The Lover, a film about a French girl's affair with a Chinese middle-aged man in the 1920s, is close to March's heart.
"It is a life-changing film," she says. "In your career, you are lucky to be in one good film, let alone an iconic one."
In Perfect Baby, she acts with the second Chinese actor in her career, the rising mainland star Deng Chao, who made an impressive appearance in Tsui Hark's Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, in 2010.
Comparing Leung and Deng was an oft-asked question on March's Beijing trip.
"Both are very decent gentlemen," she says.
"Leung was always very giving. He did massages for the crew. But The Lover was an intimate piece and I was so young, so as part of the self-protection I had to distance myself a bit. Besides, the film was in English, it is not Leung's native language. Deng is such a great physical comedian and made me laugh, I think that's a universal language."
Perfect Baby will be released on Aug 6, Chinese Valentine's Day.
Jane March is known among Chinese for her role in "The Lover." [Photo:Mtime.com]
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