Los Angeles (Mail Online, Dec 22,2017): Actress Hiep Thi Le, who starred in Oliver Stone’s third movie in his Vietnam war trilogy, has died.
The Vietnamese-born star was handpicked by Stone to play opposite Tommy Lee Jones in 1993’s Heaven & Earth, the story of a woman living through the war who marries an American G.I. and moves back with him to the US.
Le was 46 and died due to complications from stomach cancer, Variety reported Tuesday.
Speaking about his decision to go with the unknown young woman for the movie that completed his trilogy along with Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July, Stone told film critic Roger Ebert that Le had captivated everyone on the production.
‘We searched in six or seven American cities, and in Hong Kong and Bangkok. More than 16,000 Vietnamese came in to read for 30 different roles,’ the director explained in an article published in the LA Times in 1993.
‘Our people saw her, put her on video, thought she was electric, and flew her down to Los Angeles. I thought she was charismatic. We worked with her, put her on video with other actors, introduced her to Tommy Lee Jones and Joan Chen and Haing Ngor, and then we put her on film,’ he went on.
‘We tested her out for about five months, continuously, and she won the role. I didn’t send her to any acting school. I didn’t feel that it was necessary; she was a natural.
She also made a career as a chef, working at the China Beach Bistor in Venice, California, before moving on to become chef and owner of Le Cellier, a French-Vitenamese restaurant in Marina Del Rey, just south of Venice.