Jet Li joins host Anjali Rao and a live studio audience for a special edition of TALK ASIA airing this weekend. After greeting Rao and the audience at Hong Kong’s Bethanie auditorium with a ‘namaste’ bow, Li reveals much during the in-depth interview: How Wushu (martial arts) led him to Hollywood fame, thoughts on meeting the U.S. President, his relationship with the Dalai Lama and how the 2004 tsunami changed his whole perspective on life.
Jet Li’s name is synonymous with Wushu and his world class skills in the discipline led to his international break in the box office smash “Lethal Weapon 4”. He discusses how violence and death is portrayed on screen and talks about the Oscar-nominated film “Hero” where “everything is pretty…..even killing people is very beautiful” but mentions that no-one really thinks about the suffering that surrounds death itself.
Li explains his proudest moment in life goes back to being handpicked by his coach at the age of 11 to represent his country on a goodwill tour in the U.S. He performed on the White House lawn for former U.S. President Richard Nixon, Chinese leaders and other heads of state. Li recalls how his impression of the U.S. on the trip was made more interesting when he was told by his Chinese guards that his hotel room was possibly bugged and that he should always “keep silent”. As a result, he would jokingly place orders for room service by speaking into flower pots.
The award-winning actor reveals that the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” scri pt was originally tailor-made for him, but he has no regrets after turning it down, something he repeated with the Wachowski brothers’ ‘Matrix’ trilogy. He explains that he promised his wife Nina Li that he would be by her side during her pregnancy, saying: “I can make many movies, but I cannot make many many babies.”
China’s highest paid actor also discusses his extensive humanitarian work. He talks about his near brush with death when holidaying with his family in the Maldives as the 2004 tsunami hit, an experience that inspired him to set up the “One Foundation”, in Li’s words to “help the world”.
As a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, Li points out that although he has the utmost respect for the Dalai Lama and counts him as a friend, he reveals they share differing political opinions. Li’s view is that China, Tibet and Taiwan should be unified because “the world is one family.”
Li also shares with Rao the reason why he spent ten days in total silence in a monastery in Northern China, meditating from four in the morning to ten at night. “We are driven by material, by technology but everything should be under our control, even money, material, time.” He reflects his philosophy on being happy in life to Rao, “….everybody has that quality but we don’t know how to use it in daily life.”