The 'Brokeback Mountain' director insists what happened to King the tiger on the set of his film 'was an accident.'
Ang Lee broke silence on the swirling rumors that a tiger nearly drowned during the filming of his film "Life of Pi". When asked about the matter by reporters in Manila and Taiwan, the director admitted the animal did face a scary moment but he downplayed it, calling it "an accident."
"It was an accident," Lee said as quoted by Taiwan's Central News Agency. "The crew worked hard to rescue the tiger and then showed him a lot of care, giving him five-star treatment." He later said in a different interview in Manila, "We gave a lot of care to the tiger, as much as we possibly could."
Oscar winner "Life of Pi" was released last fall with "No Animals Were Harmed" stamp from American Humane Association. Gina Johnson, who was assigned to the film, left her job at the organization after her email which mentioned the incident went public.
"Last week we almost f***ing killed King in the water tank," she wrote on April 7, 2011 in the email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "This one take with him just went really bad, and he got lost trying to swim to the side ... damn near drowned."
"I think this goes without saying but DON'T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE!" the AHA monitor added. "I have downplayed the f*** out of it."
The film's distributor Fox previously dismissed such incident happened, "The tiger, King, was never harmed and did not 'nearly drown' during the production. We take on-set safety very seriously and take every precaution necessary to ensure that no one -- animal or human -- is harmed during the production of our films."
AHA issued a similar denial, insisting that the article "distorts the work and record of a respected nonprofit organization that has kept millions of beloved animal actors safe on film and television sets around the world."
"The article is misleading and unfortunate," AHA senior advisor Karen Rosa told AFP. "I really think that the article does not paint a very accurate picture of the program and the hard work that we do out there in the field."