In this excerpt from my transcription of the commentary to The Replacement Killers, director Antoine Fuqua talks about Chow Yun Fat’s attitude to his work.
You don’t always need 100 million dollars to make something exciting. You just need to be clever and you need to give the filmmakers a little more room sometimes to do it and I think that some of the crew and even some of the actors could learn from Chow Yun Fat and people like that. This is a guy that never complained on the set. He never complained about being in his trailer a little longer than he needed to be because we ran into a technical problem because he understood – things break, you know. It rains. Things happen, you know. That’s part of film making and this is a guy that was more than willing to not only to come out and help – we would have to tell him that he couldn’t because of union problems, we used to tell him ‘don’t push the dolly, don’t do that, you know, you might get hurt and there’d be a huge problem’ and he didn’t understand it. He would come to me and go ‘Antoine, how much time do we have?’ I would say ‘We’ve got 2 hours and we’ve got to get this whole thing. We haven’t much time and the sun is going down’ and he was always calm. He would pull me into his trailer. He would have candles lit and he had this calm vibe and he would just calm me down and he would say ‘OK, let’s do it like this. What if we do this?’ I was ‘No…’ ‘Well, how about this?’ and the thing that I loved about him was that he never said ‘Well, how come we’re not prepared to do it that way?’ He just said ‘What if we tried this?’ and sometimes he would be right
And, you know, he just made me realise – I said ‘Man, you don’t have to be a big star and be an asshole’. You don’t. There’s no reason, man. He said hello to everybody on the set every day. Everybody. He remembered everybody’s name – P.A.s, craft service, you know, everybody. People were blown away. They couldn’t believe it, you know. He took us all to dinner before we shot. I’m talking hundreds of people and he paid for it so, you know, it’s like those sort of lessons we can learn from people like him – accepting foreigners, if you will, from other places, you know, and saying ‘What do you have to offer?’ Some good, some bad, but, you know, we know how to decipher. We know so I think it’s good.
I still don’t think he’s been used properly yet. Not yet. And, honestly, I hope I’m the guy that gets a chance to do that. I really do. I don’t know if I will or not just based on timing and other films I’m doing now and where he is in his life…