Jet Li

The One

Interviewed by James Mottram

You chose to star in "The One" rather than appear in a sequel to "The Matrix". Why?

I thought "The Matrix" was already very successful. The Wachowski brothers are friends of mine. They wrote a small, unique part for me for Part 3 ["The Matrix Revolutions"]. The film is still going to be successful, so why did they need Jet Li? We don't want to see one action movie with everybody in it. The audience - who do they choose?

In "The One", you play multiple clones of your character - was this tough?

Bad guy is easy to play because they don't care about the other person; they just care about themselves. It's just selfish! The good guy is tough. You have to care, you need more depth.

You're also rumoured to have turned down "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" - is that right?

Yes. I promised my wife when she was pregnant I would stop working. In the Hong Kong movie industry, they make action movies for the last 30 years, many generations. I'll try to give an example. The Hong Kong action movie is like a tree: "Crouching Tiger" is just one fruit. Made at the right time, with the right story and the right director, who is very talented... if the film was made 15 years ago, maybe it wouldn't work. All over the world, the audience was waiting for it.

How would you describe martial arts to a newcomer?

Martial arts is very difficult to explain: it's like music. Under music, there are different types of music: jazz, classical, or whatever. I had special training for ten years, and I learned a lot of disciplines. You must listen with your heart, like music. It doesn't matter whatever your teacher tells you, you must feel it.