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'3 Body Problem' director Derek Tsang says the show 'relied' on him and a Chinese writer to finesse its Mandarin dialogue

zine tseng as ye wenjie in three body problem. she's a young woman sitting in front of a control panel, wearing a brown hat with a brim, and a blue jacket. bathed in warm light, she looks over her shoulder
Zine Tseng as Ye Wenjie in "3 Body Problem."Ed Miller/Netflix
  • Netflix's "3 Body Problem" shifts the story's focus from China to a global stage.

  • The show, however, still has extended sequences in Mandarin.

  • Director Derek Tsang told BI that he brought in a Chinese writer to help with the Mandarin dialogue.

Netflix's "3 Body Problem" adapts Liu Cixin's "Remembrance of Earth's Past" trilogy by shifting its primary focus away from China — but for its first two episodes, a significant amount of the dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese.

The series, which premiered Thursday on Netflix, is helmed by showrunners David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo. While parts of it hew closely to Liu's original novels — particularly, flashbacks to Cultural Revolution-era China — the show remixes many of the books' Chinese characters into a global cast grounded in the United Kingdom.

Hong Kong filmmaker Derek Tsang, who also serves as a producer on the show, helmed the series' first two episodes, which tell astrophysicist Ye Wenjie's backstory in 1960s China. He told Business Insider that it was "obvious" that he was brought onto the project in part because he's a Chinese director (he also scored an Oscar nomination in 2020 for his film "Better Days"). In turn, he felt that he had a "huge responsibility" to depict this period of Chinese history authentically. That extended to the dialogue.

"I think a lot of the Chinese dialogue, they relied a lot on me and my writer," Tsang told BI. "I hired a writer from China to help us translate what David and Dan wrote."

Tsang told BI that the dialogue was based on the book, which had been translated from Chinese to English. He then translated it back into Mandarin for the show.

"I always fall back to the book, and use the Chinese version of the book and try to be authentic to that," he said. "So that was a very interesting process, actually."

Much of the show's Mandarin dialogue occurs in sequences set in China in the early episodes, with Zine Tseng, who plays young Ye Wenjie, working primarily in the language. However, there are select instances later in the show where other characters speak Mandarin as well, even outside the China-focused flashbacks.

Tsang told BI that he thought showrunners Benioff, Weiss, and Woo had succeeded in carrying over the "essential" elements from Liu's novel while also incorporating a more international focus and cast.

"I don't want to use the word, but it's not a bastardized version of it," he said. "I think they have been adapting that into a very international story, which is very fitting for this show."

"3 Body Problem" is now streaming on Netflix.

Read the original article on Business Insider