Taiwanese director Ang Lee has called Cannes best actor winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai's performance in his new spy thriller a director's dream.
Lee has been shooting "Lust, Caution," about a group of patriotic students who plot to assassinate an intelligence chief in the Japanese-backed Chinese government during the World War II era. Leung plays the spy chief.
"Leung Chiu-wai is a dream. There's nothing to criticize," Lee told reporters at a news conference in Shanghai. Footage of the press conference was posted on the Chinese news Web site Sina.com Monday.
"He's already a great actor. I think he took on a role that's better than any of his roles in the past. It's also a type of role he hasn't tackled before. He also delivered Mandarin dialogue," the Taiwanese director said, referring to the national Chinese dialect.
Leung is a native of Hong Kong, where the Cantonese dialect is dominant. He said earlier he spent two months memorizing the lines of his character, Mr. Yi, because of the difficulty of acting in Mandarin.
Leung won the best actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 for his performance in the Wong Kar-wai film "In the Mood for Love."
Chinese-American pop singer Leehom Wang also appears in the movie, portraying a student, reports AP.
Lee said that it took time for Wang to immerse himself in character, but that he was delighted by his progress.
"Leehom Wang didn't find his way until the second half of shooting. Once he did, it was a surprise. I hope the audience will enjoy the same sense of surprise. The most gratifying thing was working with Leehom," he said.