Story by: Jack Foley
LAST Samurai Oscar nominee,
Ken Watanabe, will join Chinese actress, Zhang Ziyi, in the eagerly
anticipated big screen adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling
novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, it has been announced.
The book follows the story of a young Japanese girl, who overcomes
poverty to become an accomplished geisha - a professional female
companion for men in Japan, who is schooled in music, dance and
The role will mark Ziyi's first lead in a US film, although she
will be familiar to viewers from scene-stealing turns in Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Rush
Hour 2 and the upcoming Hero.
Yet, the 25-year-old actress is determined to repay the faith
shown in her by the studios, and told the Associated Press that
she will 'continue to do my utmost to make this the best role
I've ever played'.
Watanabe will play the Chairman,
with whom Sayuri falls in love, and is equally keen to do well
in the role, having made a huge impression in Hollywood ever since
his scene-stealing turn in The Last Samurai.
The actor, who has beaten
cancer during his career, has also landed a prominent role
in the new Batman movie, Batman
The film will be directed by Chicago
helmer, Rob Marshall, and is to be produced by Steven Spielberg,
with former Bond girl, Michelle Yeoh also appearing.
The project marks the realisation of a long-held ambition for
Marshall, who has been keen to direct it since the book was first
published, in 1997.
He had previously been unable to start work on it, due to contractual
commitments with Miramax, and because Columbia Pictures and DreamWorks
held the rights to the book.
A deal has been forged between the studios.
Explained Marshall, excitedly: "We are adapting a beloved
piece of literature that has become a worldwide sensation, which
made it important to me to assemble a cast with a prestigious
Production on the film has been scheduled to start in the autumn.