HONG KONG >> Michelle Yeoh says she hopes her portrayal of Aung San Suu Kyi in an upcoming movie will raise awareness about the Myanmar pro-democracy leader’s story.
The former Bond girl recently wrapped up shooting for the Luc Besson biopic, "The Lady," in Thailand.
Suu Kyi spent 14 of the past 20 years in detention. She was released in November following elections that replaced the ruling military junta with a nominally civilian government. Critics called the elections, which were boycotted by Suu Kyi’s party, a charade. Her party won the last elections in 1990 but was prevented from taking power.
Speaking on the sidelines of a jewelry exhibit in Hong Kong on Thursday, Yeoh called the movie "an incredible love story that has political turmoil within," referring to Suu Kyi’s relationship with her husband, Briton Michael Aris.
"More importantly for me is that people should know her story because unfortunately I think a lot of people have forgotten or don’t really understand what was going on because it’s been 20 years," Yeoh said. The 48-year-old Malaysian-born actress met with Suu Kyi as part of her preparation for the role.
The star of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," ”Memoirs of a Geisha" and the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" said Besson, the French director, is currently editing the movie and is eyeing a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 10.
Yeoh said she was grateful that their shoot in Thailand was not interrupted by curious fans. In an age where cellphone footage is common, there were few leaks from the set of "The Lady."
"It was very important that we did it low-profile and I think because of that you have the integrity of what the film is about," she said.
Yeoh’s other upcoming release is the animated movie "Kung Fu Panda 2," which is the first time she has lent her voice to a cartoon character. She is the voice of The Soothsayer.
Yeoh said she has always resisted voiceovers because of what she described as her "husky, deep voice," which she said was often confused for that of a man.
"Sometimes when I’m on the phone, someone will say ‘Yes, Mr. Yeoh.’ And I’m thinking, ‘I’m not Mr. Yeoh man,’" she joked.