Tang role in Chinese film in doubt
Lust, Caution star Tang Wei's part in a Chinese propaganda blockbuster as the first love of communist China's founding father, Mao Zedong, has reportedly been dropped - raising the prospect that the actress is still suffering backlash after playing a traitor in the 2007 World War II-era spy thriller.
While Lust, Caution gave Tang international exposure, her role as a student activist who warns a Japan-allied Chinese intelligence official about an assassination attempt allegedly offended Chinese film officials worried about lingering anger over Japanese wartime atrocities.
The film's director, Ang Lee, who won an Oscar for the gay romance Brokeback Mountain, was asked to edit dialogue to make the warning from Tang's character less explicit. And Tang herself was reportedly blacklisted, not releasing another movie until last year's Hong Kong-set romantic comedy Crossing Hennessy.
Tang's casting as Mao's girlfriend was announced in September, signalling her rehabilitation in China. She joined a star-studded cast in Jian Dang Wei Ye, a propaganda blockbuster scheduled for release on June 15 to mark the 90th anniversary of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
But as the release date nears, reports have surfaced that Tang was left out of the final cut.
Gao Jun, deputy general manager of Chinese theatre operator New Film Association, said on Thursday that Tang's role was cut because historians questioned the factual accuracy of her character. He cited "industry insiders," but declined to identify them.
Gao, however, said the decision had nothing to do with her Lust, Caution role.
"It's not a problem with the actress," he said.
A news report on Jian Dang Wei Ye's official website on Thursday said Tang was no longer listed in the credits printed in the film's latest publicity materials - although a production photo of Tang's character was still posted on the site.