HONG KONG - Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has tackled English period drama, kung fu and gay cowboy romance. Just don't expect him to make small talk at a dinner party.
The Taiwanese native, who won a best director Oscar last year for the gay love story "Brokeback Mountain," said in a TV interview that aired Saturday despite his celebrity, he's still extremely shy and struggles with social interaction.
"When I'm off the set, it's hard for me to carry a conversation. That's more difficult for me than making a movie," Lee said on the CNN program "Talk Asia."
"Making a movie, I have plans in my head. Somehow one way or another I manage to roll the camera and get something in the can. But off the set, at the dining table ... it's still awkward for me," he said.
Lee, 52, said if the conversation turns to movies he feels comfortable "momentarily," but "that's kind of about it."
"It's hard for me to feel comfortable socially. I'm always shy, it's just part of my character," he said.
Lee said being one of the most famous Chinese-speaking directors in the world is a tremendous burden.
"It's very uncomfortable for me. I'd rather not carry the torch, I'd rather be watching somebody else carry the torch. It's an incredible burden on my shoulder. But I'm passionate about making movies, so as far as I'm concerned, that's the duty I have," he said.
Lee recently released the Chinese-language spy thriller "Lust, Caution" which won the top Golden Lion prize at the recent Venice Film Festival. His other credits include "Hulk," the kung fu hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Sense and Sensibility."