Q&A: Wong Kar-wai

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STEPHEN SHORTWong Kar-wai, 42, Hong Kong's most imitated film director, has just begun shooting his latest, still-untitled movie.

Q: You shot some of Happy Together with soccer star Maradona. What was he like?
A: He wasn't in a great mood. I think his drugs case was going on.

Q: Did he know who you were?
A: No, I think he figured we were Japanese tourists.

Q: Do you ever look at your films and want to change them?
A: No. At film festivals I put on my sunglasses and go to sleep because I don't want to see them again.

Q: How do you feel about John Woo, Chow Yun-fat and Jet Li in the U.S. film industry?
A: Embarrassed. Chow Yun-fat speaking English like a New Yorker is not the Yun-fat I know. And I hate the Cantonese depicted in Hollywood movies. Cantonese aren't just noodle-sellers, but the writers never understand that.

Q: What about Maggie Cheung's performance in Irma Vep?
A: That's O.K. I can handle her speaking English or French. It's natural. Besides, I know the director [Olivier Assayus] loves her. We have the proof. Now they're married.

Q: But to put her in that leather cat-suit, wasn't that a bit over the top?
A: Come on, that's the privilege of a director. Maggie in a cat-suit is the rewarding part of doing the job.

Q: What would you be if not a director?
A: A cook maybe, or a bartender.

Q: Bartender to Chris Doyle, your cinematographer?
A: He doesn't eat. All he does is drink.

Q: Your films are about individuals, there's no sense of society in your work.
A: It's my fantasy of Hong Kong. I want it to be quiet, to have fewer people.

Q: You and 6.5 million others.