Director Luc Besson has nearly finished filming on the biopic The Lady (née Into the Light) — today brings the first stills from the production. Michelle Yeoh portrays Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy icon; David Thewlis plays her academic husband, Dr. Michael Aris. Suu Kyi led the opposition against the Burmese military junta that arrested her in 1989, and spent 15 years of the last 21 years under house arrest. The film’s title is how the population referred to Suu Kyi (“The Lady”) once Burmese officials banned the utterance of her name.
Suu Kyi was finally freed this November, which gave Yeoh the chance to meet the woman she will play on screen. Hit the jump to hear Yeoh’s thoughts on the encounter and see the images.
Yeoh told The Guardian:
“The first thing we did is hug and I thought you are really skinny, man. One of the first things she said was ‘why doesn’t the BBC world service have more music?’
You feel a real sense of calm when you’re with her. She’s a very striking figure. She is so proud of her culture and the best way to show it is with dignity and elegance. She has a glow and an aura about her.”
Besson deemed Suu Kyi “more of a heroine than Joan of Arc.” The director elaborates on what compelled him to tell her story:
“It is the fight of a woman without any weapons, just her kindness and her mentality. [Suu Kyi] is very Gandhi like.
She says we should have the right to decide our future, we should have the right to express ourselves. She is asking for things we all have and don’t even think about any more.
How often in history do you have a person, a woman, who never curses, never steals anything, never does anything illegal and you put her under house arrest for 24 years, it is just insane.”
Novelist and screenwriter Rebecca Frayn wrote the script. The Lady opens in 1988, the year Suu Kyi returned to Burma to attend to her sick mother, and closes in 1999, the year Aris died of cancer.