By Jeff Labrecque
Updated January 10, 2013 at 06:48 PM EST

For Ang Lee, who was nominated for his third Academy Award as a director this morning, Life of Pi was a Herculean task, harder to bring to the screen then even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. “This is the hardest movie I ever made,” he says. “It seemed like every element was going uphill. It’s also the longest, and most people involved — 3,000 people and four years — and most uncertain. We didn’t know whether it would work or not for a long time. This is very sweet.”

Pi, the lush 3-D adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, about a boy who shares a lifeboat on the high seas with a ferocious Bengal tiger, was honored with 11 nominations, including one for Best Picture. Its main character, Pi, is lost at sea and forced to resort to extreme measures, but Lee says he doesn’t feel lonely or adrift like his hero. Not anymore. “Some people talk about the movie being survival,” says the director, who won the Oscar for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, “but this is not a movie about survival. It’s using survival as a metaphor. It’s really a movie about storytelling. I also don’t like when people say it has to be more complicated about religion. It’s about God, it’s not about religion.”

(Reporting by Adam Markovitz)

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