China Diary

Day 121: Udo is numero uno


One thing I love about working with great actors is that as a director, you’re mostly just in the way when they start developing the scene; your job is just to tug them to right direction, and they’ll find the solutions themselves – organically, and coming from their own mind. You just sit back and enjoy.

Yesterday was exactly that kind of a day. We had a scene which was rather weird in the movie, but had some very interesting potential to it. Still, the way it was written and the way I was staging it didn’t feel really good, until Andy suggested another approach, one which would completely throw a wet blanket on the face of the scene – but then, as he performed it, it actually gave it a whole new life!

I enjoyed shooting the scene and covering it, and although we had to do it a gazillion times to get what we needed, we all felt we were doing a worthwhile scene, something that will live a long life on the screen.

Udo Kier, my good friend and a trusted actor came also around on the evening, and of course, we took him and Andy and Joe and my friends Roope and Pekka – and Mika and Ants – to a dinner at a hot pot restaurant nearby. Andy and Udo had done a film together (Modigliani, in 2004), so they knew each other from way back. The evening was full of joy of rejoining with old friends, and although we had Andy and Udo, both great personalities with amazing stories, somehow Udo always wins the seat at a table. His lavish style, his crazy stories and his presence is just beyond this world.

As I’m writing this, Udo has already left Qingdao, off to Macau for a film festival, and from there back to Palm Springs, but still, we shared our Udo-stories at a dinner with Andy and Joe and Mika. Even if he’s not around, he is everywhere.

There’s only one like Udo out there.

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A view from my hotel window. It’s still all beachy, but outside it’s really freezing.

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