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Trivia / Memoirs of a Geisha

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  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Composer example. The only film of John Williams's career where he has specifically asked to compose the music. Even passing on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to do so.
  • Banned in China: The film was indeed banned in China for having Chinese actresses playing Japanese geishas.
  • California Doubling: The movie was filmed mostly in California as present-day Kyoto was judged to be too modern-looking for the period. The Gion district seen in the film was an elaborate set built specifically for the movie.
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  • The Danza: Ken Watanabe plays the Chairman Ken Iwamura.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Michelle Yeoh's unexpected exit, following "If you are found to be worthless...!" according to the director's commentary. They told her to leave the room after delivering the line, but Ziyi Zhang wasn't told that she would do so. It worked — after shouting in reply "I am not worthless!", she started crying before tearfully repeating the line to the now empty room.
  • Fake Nationality: The three lead actresses are Chinese; Ziyi had to not only learn English for the role, but learn to speak it with a Japanese accent. While the actress who played the young Pumpkin is of Japanese origin she lives in America and had to learn how to speak in an Japanese accent as well. Averted though with important characters like the Chairman, Nobu and little Chiyo played by Japanese actors Ken Watanabe, Kōji Yakusho and Suzuka Ohgo.
  • What Could Have Been:
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    • Despite criticism that the lead actresses were Chinese, producers had held an open casting for Japanese actresses to attend. None showed up so they were forced to cast other Asian nationalities.
      • Potential Japanese actresses did not show up for the audition because most of them did not believe they had what it took to play a profession attainable only by a selected few. Being a Geisha is absolutely considered Serious Business.
    • Steven Spielberg, Brett Ratner, Kimberly Peirce and Spike Jonze all considered directing the film. Rob Marshall almost didn't get to do it because he was contractually obligated to make another Miramax film after Chicago.
    • Youki Koudoh auditioned for Sayuri, which went to Ziyi Zhang. But they liked her audition so much, they had her try for the role of Pumpkin. She ended up with that part.
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