Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Conversations with Two Dreamboats

The first time I met Ralph Fiennes was in Shanghai, at the plush residence of TV personality and cosmetic queen, Yue Sai Kan. Ms. Kan hosted a dinner party  for the cast of the White Countess, a movie shot in its entirety in Shanghai, starring Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson, (among others.) Ralph Fiennes plays the role of an American diplomat who becomes blind after he got hurt in a bomb explosion. The first thing he did when introductions were made was to correct my pronunciation of his name. "Call me RAFE," he said. As in Rape but with an F. 
I was seated between him and Natasha R. during the Chinese lauriat dinner and I had the honor to serve him some of the dishes as I was better with the chopsticks than he was. I noticed that his eyes were like pools of clear blue waters that had a lot of kindness in them. Talk about the eyes being the windows to the soul, his eyes were the windows to his multi dimensional personality. He was soft spoken and did not mind sharing his thoughts on certain subjects. What I remember most are his thoughts on marriage: "I am a non believer of marriage. I was married once and it was a catastrophe. I enjoy a close relationship with a woman but it does not have to lead to marriage."  About his leading ladies he said that J. Lo (Maid in Manhattan co-star) was very professional in her work but he did not have much chemistry with her off set. He continues to have a good friendship with his co star Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Julianne Moore, his co-star in The End of an Affair. 

My next meeting with Mr. Fiennes was my next trip to Shanghai a few months after. He was still there as he was still filming The White Countess. We attended a few dinner parties together and one swinging party of the Calvin Klein launch where he delighted the ladies by dancing with those who asked him. What a good natured man he is. I wonder if he will remember me next time we meet, if there is a next time. 

Hugh Jackman was in Shanghai in 2006 when he was promoting his film Wolverine.  Hugh Jackman is a WOLVERINE in sheep's clothing. He is a gentle soul, who believes in starting the day with a conversation with God.  I was the only journalist invited to attend a one on one interview of Jackman by  TV host Yue Sai Kan  (for her episodes on CCTV) and what struck me about him was his spirituality and sense of family. "Twice a day, preferably at sunrise and at sundown, I sit down for a few minutes and try to be calm. I get in touch with my five senses and listen without judgment. Meditation is like the ultimate rest. It's all about the pursuit for nothingness. It's better than the best sleep you ever had. It is quitting the mind, and yet it sharpens everything, especially your surroundings. It keeps life fresh and the more you practice, the deeper the experience gets". Jackman teaches his children, Oscar and Ava, (two multi racial children that he and his wife Deborah Lee adopted) what he has learned in the School of Practical Philosophy, where he has been going since 1991: how to make this world a better place to live in and how to be of service to others. 

Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Jackman, two big celebrities that I was lucky to have met.  After my talks with them, I realized that these two are not self absorbed actors with nothing in between their ears.  There is more to them than meets the eye. 

The dinner was for the cast of White Countess- myself, Natasha Richardson, hostess with the mostest Yue Sai Kan, Director of the movie James Ivory and producer Ishmail Merchant. 

Mr. Blue eyes, Ralph Fiennes and me

During the Gala of the Shanghai Film Festival, 2006, Hugh Jackman shared a few laughs with me.

 Hugh Jackman, wolverine in sheep's clothing


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