Norah Jones won five Grammy Awards by the age of 22. She sold 20 million copies of her 2002 debut album, "Come Away With Me," landing her behind only the Beatles in overall sales for a single album. But even with the astonishing resume, the soulful crooner and daughter of acclaimed sitar maestro Ravi Shankar managed to achieve something that perhaps even fewer people can claim -- getting licked on the face by British heartthrob Jude Law.
From Jazzy Blues to the Silver Screen
That once-in-a-lifetime achievement comes when Jones stars in internationally celebrated director Wong Kar Wai's latest film, "My Blueberry Nights." Jones plays Elizabeth, a confused, young woman who takes off on a cross-country trip that ends in her own self-discovery.
In an interview with Peter Travers for ABC News Now's "Popcorn," Jones explains that her path to silver screen stardom was as abrupt as her character Elizabeth's road trip was meandering. The singer describes the unconventional route by which she was tapped for the role, explaining that the director "called out of the blue and wanted to meet with me." Jones was both shocked and flattered when Wong offered her the starring role after having just met him. "I thought, 'Wow!' It was really as simple as that."
A First for the Director and the Leading Lady
It's no small task to headline a film by Wong Kar Wai, whose past indie hits include "In the Mood for Love" and "2046." But Jones was only slightly daunted -- and only at first. "I had fear, but at the time there was no script yet, no story line, no cast," she says.
Jones admits that this unorthodox approach to moviemaking helped her stay calm. "That kind of kept me from having too much fear because I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I just trusted him because he's such a great director."
Jones makes her silver screen debut in the film, but "My Blueberry Nights" marks a first for Wong Kar Wai too. It is his first English-language film.
'Like Playing With a Great Band'
If Jones initially found solace in the nameless list of co-stars, the songbird soon learned she would be starring alongside some of Hollywood's biggest names. Wong Kar Wai tapped a veteran lineup to give life to offbeat characters who color Elizabeth's journey, including David Strathairn as a down-and-out police officer, Rachel Weisz as his estranged wife and Natalie Portman as an unlucky gambler. "Once I got the cast list I was like, I thought this was a small indie film? Who are all these great actors? How am I going to hold my own?"
Three months of filming and cross-country travels helped Jones grow comfortable with the cast -- and her new role. Of her co-stars, she says, "it's like playing with a great band, they made me look good."
Taking to the Open Road
"My Blueberry Nights" unfolds around Jones' character, Elizabeth, a young woman who is "going through some stuff in her life" when she first discovers her lover's infidelity.
Elizabeth's journey as a single woman begins in a SoHo cafe owned by Law's character. It is there that Jones completed the most memorable -- and difficult -- scene of the film. In what will surely be remembered as a scene emblematic of the Wong style, the director structured an atypical kissing scene. While Jones sleeps the entire time, Law's character removes pastry cream from where it has settled, forgotten on her cheek. Logistically, it was a difficult scene for Jones: "It was really uncomfortable. I had a crick in my neck!"
Physical concerns aside, Jones jokes that "it was kind of weird for both of us." They agonized over the scene for three days. But Jones says that perhaps those were not the worst days of work, admitting, "it wasn't bad."
From her SoHo adventures, Elizabeth hits the road for the second half of the film, during which she encounters a bevy of new sites and faces. The itinerary includes stops in Memphis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Jones was thrilled that the cast filmed on location in each of these cities, getting a taste for the different cultures -- and music -- of each stop.
Music makes up a big part of the film, including an original Jones song, "The Story," which she wrote while filming.
Initially, Jones had no plans to contribute to the "Blueberry Nights" soundtrack. But when Wong approached her with the idea, Jones offered her latest creation: "It was the song I had written while filming, so it made sense."
So with this project allowing the star to blend her lifelong passion for music with her newfound interest in cinema, Jones' fans cannot help but wonder if there will be more films with her face in them.
Jones does not have an answer yet: "I'm not sure that I want to be an actress full-time. I really loved it. … I would do it again."