Thesp gobbles up 'Vice' role, Lecter prequel slot
Chinese star Gong Li has been booked for two big Hollywood pics.Gong will first play the female lead as a crime figure of Chinese and Cuban descent in the Michael Mann-directed “Miami Vice” for Universal. She will then play Lady Murasaki, the Japanese woman who teaches cultural sophistication to a young Hannibal Lecter in “Behind the Mask,” the Peter Webber-directed fifth installment of the Lecter franchise scripted by “The Silence of the Lambs” author Thomas Harris. “Mask” will start production in September in Prague. Gong (“Farewell My Concubine,” “Raise the Red Lantern”) has already wrapped two films generated in the U.S.: the anthology pic “Eros” and the Rob Marshall-directed “Memoirs of a Geisha” for Sony. Mann described her role as that of the chief financial officer of a transnational criminal enterprise. “The part of Isabella required psychological complexity and beauty, both of which she has,” he said. Mann, who exec produced the Anthony Yerkovich-created series on which “Miami Vice” is based, wrote the script and will begin shooting in Miami and South America beginning in May, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx starring. The film requires Gong to speak English and Spanish. Dino and Martha De Laurentiis said director Webber was looking for an exotic new face for “Behind the Mask,” a film they’ve financed in partnership with Tarak Ben Ammar. Prequel pic shows how Hannibal the Cannibal developed his sense of culture as well as a taste for human flesh. After the young Hannibal escapes from an orphanage and runs away to Paris, he takes refuge at the home of his uncle. His wife, Lady Murasaki, becomes the sociopath’s teacher. Dino De Laurentiis said they are now casting three actors to play Lecter at ages 8, 14 and 20. He will soon shop for domestic distributors, after pole-position studio Universal took a pass. Gong is repped by ICM.