Ang Lee: 10 Facts About One Of The World’s Truly Great Directors

Ang Lee is well known for directing a number of movies, and Life of Pi is one of his most famous.

This year, he was honored with the chance to help announce the Oscar nominees alongside Guillermo del Toro and John Krasinski, but what about the director himself? Fans of Ang Lee will be intrigued by these facts about him and his work.

1. The Mirror reports that Ang Lee considers himself a drifter because he prefers to live life on an international level.

“I’m a drifter and an outsider. There’s not one single environment I can totally belong to. My cultural roots are something illusive.”

2. Before he became an internationally acclaimed director, Ang Lee was a house husband. While his wife worked as a molecular biologist, he took the time to write a number of screenplays.

3. Ang Lee went to New York University with Spike Lee and they worked together on his thesis film.

4. Yahoo! Movies reports that Ang Lee felt that Life of Pi became a high action-adventure movie thanks to 3D, yet the movie could still retain its spiritual sense.

“I thought this was a pretty impossible movie to make technically. It’s so expensive for what it is. You sort of have to disguise a philosophical book as an adventure story. I thought of 3D half a year before Avatar was on the screen. I thought water, with its transparency and reflection, the way it comes out to you in 3D, would create a new theatrical experience, and maybe the audience or the studio would open up their minds a little bit to accept something different.”

5. A number of top directors were attached to Life of Pi at one point or another, including Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie).

6. Fact Monster reports that Ang Lee’s second feature film, The Wedding Banquet, became the first Taiwanese movie to be given an Academy Award nomination.

7. In an interview with the Telegraph, Ang Lee admitted it took him two months to decide to take on Life of Pi because there were a lot of potential problems with making the movie.

“Kid, water, big special effects, animals – and they have to be in a small boat on water. It seemed to be a filmmaker’s every nightmare. I thought it was difficult and challenging and I got geared up and decided ‘I’ll be the one to do this’, but once I got into it I thought it was a dumb idea to have picked it up.”

8. Filming Life of Pi was harder than Ang Lee expected it to be.

“It was a lot harder than I expected. It’s a big movie and it was quite tortuous. But I thought it was a calling, something challenging that could be wonderful.”

9. They found the star of Life of Pi, Suraj Sharma, after auditioning 3,000 young men, and Ang Lee commented on the irony that his parents are mathematicians.

“What are the chances that two mathematicians give birth to a kid who plays the lead in a film called Life of Pi?”

10. Although calm and tranquil most of the time, Ang Lee admits he can lose his temper at times.

“Sometimes I lose my temper. We have so many hundreds of people working so hard for so long during shooting time and you’re waiting to capture the moment and the camera’s rolling and if anybody is not paying full attention, I will lose it. But even then, not very often. Just a few times on the set.”

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]