Viet Nam Feature Film Studio 1 had began shooting “Tran Thu Do”, a film about the life and career of an eminent 13th century politician. The second runner-up at Miss Universe Viet Nam 2008 and the Vietnamese representative at Miss World 2008 Duong Truong Thien Ly stars as Tran Thi Dung, a fascinating and beautiful woman who was romantically involved with Do.

Ly talks about her first television role timed to coincide with the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long-Ha Noi next year.

You have been offered many TV and film roles. Why did you opt for this part?

Many directors have invited me to take part in their films but I could not because after competing at the pageants, I had to return to the US to continue my studies. I refused because I didn’t have the time. That is not the case with Tran Thu Do. However, I have had to miss one term because of the production schedule.

The film director Dao Duy Phuc suggested casting me in the role of Tran Thi Dung before I took part in the Miss World 2008 contest last year in South Africa. The proposal came as a real surprise but I was interested. I am attracted by the character and proud to portray Dung because I have read up about her. I have received great support from the director as well as film crew.

It is your first film. Are you nervous about playing a character from the past, which would be a challenge for established actors?

Actually, I’m very nervous. I’m trying day by day to understand her character, remembering that she is also a queen. It is difficult to play a historical character because viewers will have expectations.

Cinema is my passion. It is a chance for me to fulfill my dream. However, I was in shock when I was cast to play the lead role. After a long time thinking about it, I decided to take the part because I admire her. I cannot deny that I’m facing a lot of pressure. I always try my best in my work.

What preparations have you made?

We listened to a presentation by history professor Le Van Lan and were instructed in traditional classical opera by musical theatre artists and taught martial arts by experienced instructor Vo Thanh Tam.

We worshiped ancient sages in pagodas around Ha Noi. We visited the tombs of Tran Thu Do and Tran Thi Dung.

This is a wonderful way to keep us calm in our minds. We feel affection and responsibility for the characters.

Could you tell me something about Tran Thi Dung?

Dung, a member of the Tran Ly family, was skilled in literature and martial arts. Dung often discussed political issues with her father and brothers. She fell in love with the founder of the Tran Dynasty, Tran Thu Do, but she had to abandon him to marry a crown prince for political reasons. Then she became a queen of the Ly Dynasty.

Is it difficult for a 20-year-old actress to portray a 16-year-old girl?

Of course, I have to adapt myself to my character. Make-up specialists will help me look like a 16-year-old and I will learn some basic martial arts, swimming and horse riding.

It is true that my character is of crucial importance and how I play the role will affect the whole film. I believe that director Phuc has chosen me, an amateur, to act as the film lead for the right reasons. I don’t believe he would pick a beautiful vase without acting ability or intelligence to star as the queen.


thien bao in tran thu do

Thien Bao, as mentor Tran Thu Do, in Hanoi's Co Loa film studio