Geisha Geisha Geisha Man After Midnight

Memoirs premiere kicks off in London

Geisha Geisha Geisha Man After Midnight

by Willow Green |
Published on

It’s been a while since we’ve been at a premiere as relaxed and friendly as tonight’s one celebrating Memoirs Of A Geisha, but the amount of bonhomie in London could have fuelled Christmas. Due to the Mayfair Curzon’s being somewhat on the small side, the stars and guests were greeted with champagne at the Washington Hotel before heading a mere slide down the road to an enchantingly decorated Curzon (think lanterns people, lanterns!) for the screening.

Ziyi Zhang was abroad, but director Rob Marshall and head geisha (and all-round top lady) Michelle Yeoh were on sparkling, while the redoubtable Tsai Chin charmed the pants off everyone (including, bizarrely, old friend Jonathan Aitken), even signing autographs for die-hard You Only Live Twice fans.

Lucky-sod Londoners mingled with a cheery bunch of celebs including Narnia’s Anna Popplewell having a jaunt after “being given Christmas and New Year off”, artist Grayson Perry (“Geisha was one of my first pin-ups as a transvestite”) both Geldof offspring (“No interviews, Dad’ll kill us!”) and assorted telly, muso and model folk. Michelle Yeoh brought a load of her mates along which made the party even more upbeat and much less like a promotional event.

Tsai Chin, who plays the okiya’s Auntie in the film, still had a wry word to say about the premiere circus: “As you get older it gets harder!” she chuckled. “Woman to woman, it’s easier for men I think. You have to do yourself up.” As for checking out her outfit in the next day’s papers: “No absolutely not, I’ve got better things to do.” Quite right too.

Rob Marshall was delighted to be back in London where he spent part of his childhood, and even more so by the fact the red carpet session was indoors and away from the weather: “Love that part! Who came up with that?”

Along with his cast (Michelle Yeoh creeps up behind him mid-interview prompting a delighted catch-up), one of the highlights of **Memoirs ** was working with Spielberg as producer. “It was a luxury for me to have a filmmaker as a producer, to have someone you can speak the same language to,” he enthused. “He was incredible all through, as I showed him a rough cut or as I shot the final version he gave me props and notes – it was fantastic, I felt really blessed.” Fortunately for Marshall, the Bearded One is a big fan of the finished product: “He told me when he saw the film that he’ll be happy to be associated with it for the rest of his life.” Sounds like approval to us.

After years as a ballerina and martial artist, Michelle Yeoh enjoyed the change in regime that geisha boot camp required and was surprised by what she learned: ”I think what I took away most was the ability to sit there and look at the other person and listen to what they say to you,” she said. “There’s so many things happening it’s very difficult to actually listen and make the other person feel like they are very, very important and most of the time they are but we just don’t express it properly.”

After the film, the guests trooped off to swish Japanese haunt, Nobu Berkeley, for drinks and long-night partying. Or rather, they will do in about 45 minutes when **Empire **will be whooping the night up with them. It’s a hard job, but y’know, someone’s got to do it!

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