Director Ang Lee: The Artist, The Introvert

Ang Lee

“He is so sensitive and the way he directs you is so silent.”

Director Ang Lee won his second Academy Award for “Life of Pi” (his first was for “Brokeback Mountain”).

Actor Adil Hussain, one of the stars of “Pi” described how the Taiwanese filmmaker works. He commented that Lee is “so sensitive and the way he directs you is so silent. He’d whisper into your ear what he has to say.

“He’d walk all the way from the den where he would sit… watching the shoot, to where you were shooting, if he had something to tell you. He wouldn’t just yell at his assistant asking him to convey the message; he’d always do so personally.”

Hussain added, “His language isn’t just verbal though, it’s some sort of energy transmission. And that makes you perform. That’s why a first-time actor like Suraj (who played the protagonist Pi Molitor Patel) could give this sort of an amazing performance.

“It cannot be solely through intellectual coaching.”

From Ang Lee is a sensitive and silent director, says ‘Life of Pi’ star Adil Hussain, by Arya Yuyutsu.

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In an article on leadership, author Susan Cain gives a number of examples of “effective Asian-American leaders” including Ang Lee, plus other creative people: “novelist Chang Rae-Lee; fashion designer Vera Wang; New York Times literary critic Michiko Kakutani…the list goes on and on.”

From Are Asian-Americans Too Quiet to Lead U.S. Businesses?

Another article quotes Cain about the “extrovert ideal” – “the cultural phenomenon where in our schools, workplaces and religious institutions, we revere people who are bold, entertaining, alpha and gregarious, and appreciate far less a different constellation of traits – the serious, reflective, cerebral characteristics associated with introversion.”

But Cain also points out that these traits are greatly admired in some countries, such as China, where shy and sensitive children are popular at school.

From Revenge of the introverts, By Hannah Borno, Psychologies magazine.

Borno explains some of the ways our introvert (and perhaps highly sensitive) nervous system works:

“While introverts are easily overstimulated, in one particular way they are less easily enlivened: the dopamine pathways of an introvert’s brain are less active than the corresponding pathways in the brain of an extrovert. So they are less susceptible to the euphoric dopamine ‘buzz’ we experience when we achieve our goals.”

Susan CainShe quotes Susan Cain: “Extroverts have stronger ‘reward networks’ in the brain, fuelled by the neuro-transmitter dopamine, and it is these networks which make us sensitive to rewards such as going after promotions or winning money.

“Extroverts experience excited feelings about chasing after markers of status. Introverts care about these things with less intensity so they are more careful and deliberate.”

Borno adds, “Academically, introverts generally outperform their extroverted peers – while at the same time exhibiting greater creativity. This link between introversion and creativity, says Cain, may be because introverts spend much of their time alone and this can solitude spark innovation. Or it may be due to the fact that introverts tend to be more persistent problem-solvers, giving up less easily than extroverts when faced with a tricky puzzle.”

Susan Cain is author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking [an Amazon top Best Seller in Psychology of Creativity & Genius].

[Photo above is from video: “Susan Cain: Networking For Introverts – with Marie Forleo” in post: Resources for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People.]

Dr. Elaine Aron comments that Cain’s book “is actually more about HSPs (highly sensitive people) than social introverts” and “Her discussion of ‘introversion’ throughout is almost identical to what has become the standard definition of high sensitivity.”

From my article Creative Thinking and Being Introverted or Highly Sensitive, which includes a video of Cain.

Here is an audio clip of her:


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Shyness is also an experience of many highly sensitive and/or introverted people, although it is learned, rather than being a trait. But some people may identify others – or themselves – as “shy” when they may really be introverted.

That may be the case with actor Sigourney Weaver, who once said: “I remember when I met director Ang Lee and we were left alone … I was so shy and he was so shy neither of us said anything to each other for about 20 minutes. Finally, we started talking about The Ice Storm.”

From my article Creative People: Personality and Mental Health webinar.


Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts

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Originally posted 2013-02-26 19:39:44.


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