A professor at a leading university in Puerto Rico finds love with an aspiring artist from the Chinese immigrant community in Art of Love. “He left China when he was young and lived with his aunt and uncle,” explained Kunjue Li, who played Li Chao in the film, opposite Esai Morales who played the teacher. He went on to explain that his character suffered abuse as a child, which led to him moving around and ending up in Puerto Rico.
“He had the mentality of a survivor … but when he finally, for the first time, began to read his books, he loved her in spirit. He loved the words he used, the way he describes the loneliness and the emotional details he describes… He wanted to see what kind of person wrote like that, and then it became an obsession.
Along with Li and Morales in Art of Love are Caterina Murino, Jim Lau, Bruno Irizarry, Braulio Castillo hijo, and many others. Betty Kaplan directed the film and co-starred with Eduardo Lalo. The movie is set to hit theaters on July 22, 2022, and on VOD and digital soon after.
Based on the book
According to Deadline, the original title of Art of Love was Simone, as the story is based on Lalo’s 2013 novel of the same name. “I read the book,” Li said, “the book is very well written, and the way they describe the whole existence of a person, I was like ‘oh my god, this is so cool.’ Because, you know, he felt invisible as a Chinese in San Juan, and at a lower class level where people didn’t see him. When people saw him, it was as Chinese, the People can’t see him as an individual, all the things I can relate to.
Regarding how the story relates to what is written in the book, Li commented that “it is very important”, how the story develops, although “the book is longer and the way they describe everything is poetry , and the language is. branded.
Li explained how he got involved in the role and how it “basically means a foreigner trying to make it in another country,” which Li did when he left Chengdu, China to study economics in London before finding his calling as an artist. today. “All my friends in college were bankers, but I wanted to be an actor since I was a child. And in China, acting is not considered a highly valued job, so my parents didn’t let me …. When I graduated, I had an existential crisis… So I pursued my dream. I quit my job and auditioned for acting school.
Working with Cast & Crew
Samuel Goldwyn films
Li may be known for his work on other projects including Tigertail and Steven Soderbergh’s Netflix drama The Laundromat with Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman. Li’s co-star in the film is no stranger to the screen either, as Morales is known for his work in NYPD Blue, Bad Boys and La Bamba.
“He’s so cute. He is very generous, versatile and philosophical. We talked a lot about the book,” Li said, “the idea of identity, all that stuff. He’s an honest friend, very kind, and he takes care of me because he’s from there. He knows where to go, where to eat… he can really relate to the writer [his character]. And what does it mean [identity] for him? What could he not stand? And the same goes for me.
Director Kaplan has worked on previous projects such as an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Of Love and Shadows. “Betty is very stylish and very beautiful, and she comes from a dance background, so she’s more than the picture you see in your head; such must be here and must be there. He will have a point of view… He rules the whole thing with his feminine energy and his masculine energy… he gets things done and everyone respects him.
Li used his business background as a producer, working with Robert Mackintosh as associate producer on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Tell Me On A Sunday in the West End. She also worked on Urine Town with Julian Stoneman and later received five stars for Harajuku Girls, a production she also starred in at the Finborough Theater in London.