Wong Kar-wai: “It was an unfulfilled wish. I wanted to put them together several years ago, in Days of Being Wild, but never got to. At first, I had wanted all the characters in this film to be played by Maggie and Tony, everyone down to the extras, but the concept was too ambitious… Maybe next time.”

Tony Leung: “I grew up with many neighbors, very much like you see in the film. The economy wasn’t so good and people worked hard; they couldn’t afford to live alone. We rented out rooms and I remember a lot of gossiping, a lot of quarreling. It’s different in Hong Kong these days—you don’t even know who lives next door.”

Maggie Cheung: “My strongest memories of the period are of my mother, which actually helped me with this film—the cheongsams, the shoes, the handbags, her visits to the hairdressers, the way she stood and walked and talked.”

Wong Kar-wai: “It’s a very challenging film for actors. These are the most boring parts they could get—normal people, thirtysomething, married, nothing colorful or heroic. They both went through a period of trying to do something to prove they were acting, but I kept telling them not to, because the whole point was to borrow something of theirs. I didn’t invent a character and look for an actor to play it. It wasn’t a case of casting the right person for the role. We already had the actors; everything was custom-made for them.”

Tony Leung: “I knew what to expect and what was needed—just don’t set any limits, no preparation required. I do research for other directors but not Kar-wai. I don’t even have to ask him very much; I usually have a good idea of what he wants.”

Maggie Cheung: “Kar-wai just kept wanting to know what we could give him. And I was holding back, because I was like, ‘If you’re not going to give me anything to do, I’m not going to do anything. Just watch me.’ Until finally, he wore me out so much that I didn’t care anymore, I went out and just did it. And that’s when it all came. It took me six months to actually open up to him. If I hadn’t, the shoot would have lasted forever. Him waiting for me, me waiting for him. We’d still be shooting now.”

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