"My success was not by chance, instead, it's paved by hard work, pains and tears," Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi told Xinhua News Agency Wednesday.
During a media interview after she won the title of the "best actress" of the Hua Biao Award, China's government film award, Sunday night, Zhang said "I want to tell you I didn't rely on luck."
Hailed by Time magazine as "China's gift to Hollywood" and included in People magazine's list of "50 Most Beautiful People", Zhang has been regarded as a child of fortune during her seven-year career.
Since her first film, The Road Home, she has cooperated with many prominent directors, including Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai and Spielberg. Zhang has not only become one of the most famous actresses in China, but has also risen to international stardom.
"But you didn't see that I overcame many failures on my way to success," said Zhang, in a white, plain T-shirt.
Enrolled in the Central Drama Institute in 1996, Zhang felt like a fish out of water on the first day of class.
"She was very nervous at first, and didn't know how to perform," recalled Chang Li, a teacher in charge of Zhang's class in the institute.
"I lost myself and felt pain for the whole year," said Zhang. "Teacher Chang was very strict with us. I usually prayed to God before going to bed to tell me how to accomplish my homework the next day."
"When I went to school, I cried in front of the gate, telling my mother I didn't want to go in. I wanted to go back home."
"I was so scared at class. I stood on the stage and trembled. I should have performed an old lady and then some kinds of animals, but I didn't know how to act," said Zhang.
"If I failed in the examination at the end of the first year, I would have quit school. So I set my teeth to force myself to go on studying," Zhang said.
"When I was in the second year, I suddenly began to find the direction of performance, and was not that scared," Zhang said with a smile.
During the performance at the graduation ceremony, Zhang acted as a wife eager to meet her husband. When she rushed to the stage, she crashed into a large piece of glass, seriously wounding her hands.
"My father and mother cried off the stage, and I cried on the stage. And then I was sent to a hospital," said Zhang, showing the deep scar on her hand.
"But I discovered my passion in performance at that time," she said.
Since then, Zhang has always been inspired by the passion in her career.
In the big hit House of Flying Daggers, Zhang left audiences with a deep impression with her dances. In order to achieve the best performance, Zhang practiced for two months carrying sand bags weighing 30 kilograms on her legs.
Ang Lee, director of the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has said that Zhang Ziyi is the most enterprising girl among the actresses he has cooperated with, and she would bear any hardship.
"I was only 20 years old when I performed in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and it was the hardest film for me. For six months, I worked so hard in the desert for only one goal, the recognition of director Ang Lee," Zhang said.
"All the pains under the burning sun were nothing to me. I only wished someday after work, Lee would come and give me a hug and say 'well done', because I had seen he had done so to another actress," Zhang said.
Lee didn't do that during the six months. But stubborn Zhang just wanted to wait until that day.
"I could feel the toughness in my character, and I exerted the utmost strength to let Lee not be disappointed in me," Zhang said.
At the ceremony of the completion of the film, Zhang sat next to Lee, and she would never forget that day.
Lee said "Ziyi, you worked very hard. You are excellent. I'm very satisfied with you." And then he gave her a hug. Zhang cried for a long time over his shoulder.
"Everybody thinks I got quick success. I hope you understand me that success is really not that easy," Zhang said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2005)