Friday December 22, 2006
By Noorsila Abd Majid
When you talk to Chow Yun-fat, you don’t feel that he’s an international movie star. He has no airs, no attitude and no ego to flaunt. Punctuating every sentence with highly contagious laughter, the youthful 51-year-old is extremely affable, down-to-earth and lovable.
Naturally a joker, Chow teases every journalist who fires questions at him during this fun-filled press conference for his latest outing, Curse of the Golden Flower, held at the Shangri-la hotel in Singapore recently.
While he flatters a Dalian female reporter by saying that every girl from that Chinese city (famous for producing some of the top catwalk models in China) are pretty, he makes yours truly blush by asking the entire hall to applaud my impressive Chinese language skills.
Not even a probing question on his flopped Hollywood career can upset this livewire.
“Every actor will have to go through the process (of making good films and bad films),” he reasons. “But I feel good about all my films. Ten years in Hollywood isn’t a long time for me. You need time and good script to build your acting. I believe that I still have the time to take on the roles that I like in Hollywood.”
Stressing that his type of roles do not have to be major roles in big-budget movies, Chow adds: “Getting more major roles or major movies do not mean that you are a good actor.”
Well said. All his previous major flicks in Tinseltown – be they The Replacement Killers, Anna and the King and Bulletproof Monk – have underused him as an actor. So now, the seasoned actor has settled for a supporting, but meatier role in Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, playing what else if not a pirate alongside Johnny Depp.
He has also reunited with his long-time collaborator and friend, John Woo, in the Chinese historical war film, The Battle of Red Cliff. (Both films are to be released next year.)
Thanks to the non-stop action in Pirates of the Carribbean: At Worlds End and The Battle of Red Cliff, the previously bloated Hong Kong actor has managed to transform himself from fat to fit.
“I’ve been doing a lot of horse riding, running around and jumping about,” Chow has been quoted saying in an interview with a Chinese daily.
And after a six-year hiatus from making Chinese films (his last was the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), the incredibly talented actor is back with a vengeance via Curse of the Golden Flower, a film directed by acclaimed mainland Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Already generating Oscar buzz around the world, the epic features Chow in his darkest role to-date – a power-crazy emperor who is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way – even if they are his wife (played by the magnificent Gong Li) and children (one of them played by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou).
“I was very surprised that Zhang Yimou wanted me to play such an important role in his film,” Chow says humbly. “I’ve always wanted to act in his films – even if it’s just a small role.”
His ruthless alter ego, according to Chow, is a far cry from his real self. “In US, they rate this film as absolute brutality. But as a king in feudal times, you have to kill or be killed.”
In reality, the happily married actor says he will never mistreat his children – if he is fated to have any, that is. (Word has it that his wife, Jasmine, had suffered a miscarriage before and the loving couple never talked about having babies since.)
“Kids today are difficult to manage,” Chow brings out the fatherly figure in him. “But if I were a father, I would let my kids run around. I wouldn’t be the typical Chinese father who loves to control his kids’ life. My son, for instance, doesn’t have to be a businessman and his wife doesn’t have to be an accountant.”
A firm believer that behind each successful man, there will always be a woman, Chow has only love and praises for Jasmine, whom he has been married to for 20 years. The Singaporean socialite also doubles as his personal manager.
“My wife is an amazing woman. She’s a tai chi master. So, she has got her own method in handling me,” he says with a laugh.
When asked whether Curse of the Golden Flower would repeat the phenomenal success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at the 2007 Academy Awards, Chow’s parting words are: “I don’t care. Why put pressure on yourself?
“As an actor, I’ve done my job. I have no control over the Oscars. I’m not part of the selection committee. But if Curse of the Golden Flower were to be nominated as Best Foreign Film at the Oscars and they were to send me tickets, I would go because they give you good food and good stay at first-class hotel.”
Edited by mv_288, 24 June 2008 - 03:10 AM.