Earlier this year, the Taiwanese filmmaker won his second best-director Oscar for "Life of Pi," a fantasy adventure about a 16-year-old Indian boy on an epic journey of survival. He also won the best director award for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005.
Speaking to reporters in Taipei on Thursday, Lee said "I have to read everything and watch everything" before directing films with distinctly non-Taiwanese or non-Chinese themes, like "Sense and Sensibility," which takes place in early 19th-century England, or "Brokeback Mountain," a gay love story set in late 20th-century Wyoming.
"I grew up here until I was 23," he said, referring to his native Taiwan. "Taiwan is a very open society. It's an island, so we have a lot of influences."
Still, he said, successfully penetrating the foreign backdrops that feature in many of his best films is often difficult going.
"I have to be modest and diligent in adopting all kinds of cultures," he said.
Lee's next project—a television series for FX entitled "Tyrant"—focuses on an American family caught up in the turbulence of the contemporary Middle East.
He said that while the project represented a significant departure for him, he was still looking forward to doing it.
"'Tyrant' is the first TV pilot I ever read," he said. "I don't really watch TV."