Wayne Wang has become known as a director who handles stories of Chinese identity both in China and the United States; he was behind 1993′s generation-spanning adaptation of Amy Tan‘s The Joy Luck Club, and the just-released Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. But did you know that in 2002 he directed Maid in Manhattan? Yes, the one starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
At the Snow Flower press junket, I couldn’t resist asking Wang about his foray into American romantic comedies. It turns out that he took the job after making a film called Center of the World, which he loved but which weathered awful reviews. “I couldn’t get arrested for two years,” he laughed. Yet when the producers approached him, he said he was flattered and signed on immediately. During the process he was simultaneously worried and elated at the challenge because there was the pressure to make $100 million dollars, and because he wasn’t used to thinking in those terms.
He explained what it was like to follow the rom-com formula:
“I was working with a producer who was very familiar with that genre; she was working with Julia Roberts a lot, and she was kind of the queen of romantic comedies, so I had to learn that language… [In this movie there's] the Cinderella rule, and you have to really play that up. There’s a scene where she’s going to the Cinderella party and her friend tells her, ‘You can do it — do it for all of us.’ It’s a bit over the top, but in those films you need that moment.”