Ang Lee opens up about Life of Pi

Director Ang Lee has been talking about his visually spectacular adaptation of fantasy adventure Life of Pi, which is released this Christmas.

The film opened the 50th annual New York Film Festival at the weekend. Lee has been working on the project for nearly four years, filming in his home of Taiwan and in India.

Of the long journey, the director admitted: "It seems like a never-ending story.

“It's like a drift across the Pacific and finally I begin to feel that I'm reaching the shore.”

Lee, whose The Ice Storm opened the festival in 1997, is only the fourth filmmaker to twice take the opening night slot.

The process of making the film was quite a journey for the Oscar-winning director -- both personally and professionally.

He explained: "I hadn't give thought about faith all that much, but the book made me think about it and making the movie, because it's so tough you have to think about faith.

“Sometimes you just feel so hopeless.”

Lee added: “The best part of the journey is when it's by the ocean, when it's dangerous, when you're totally alert, that's when you're with God. You've been tested.”

The 3-D film is an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Yann Martel, a fantasy tale about a boy marooned on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. The fable won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, in 2002.

Lee has handpicked newcomer, 17-year-old Suraj Sharma from 3,000 candidates for the title role of the boy who drifts on the open sea with a tiger, zebra, orangutan and a hyena, saved after a ship carrying the rest of his family sinks.

Sharma never dreamed of landing the gig. "My brother was called for the auditions and I went along with him,” he said.

“He told me he'd by me a Subway sandwich if I went with him. And the casting director, he told me you're Indian, you're teenage, you might as well give it a shot. And I said 'might as well. I'm sitting here doing nothing.' So I did and they called me back.”

  • Life of Pi is released in the UK on December 21.