Posted 27 April 2011 - 03:32 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2011 Hong Kong
Source: TVB Channel (Original Source: Mingpao)
Translation: llwy12@ http://asianfanatics.net
Having to die 5 times in 24 hours, this type of career can be considered a âtragic dramaâ, but it can also be considered a âfarceâ â netizens composed a song entitled <<同是天涯羅樂林>> for him and also gave him the title of âextraordinary personâ. Veteran actor Law Lok Lam played the âfirst generationâ Yang Guo [TN: the role Andy Lau made famous in <<Return of the Condor Heroes>>] in 1976, but never became popular or famous from that role. In the classic love story, Yang Guo waited for Siu Lung Nui for 16 years â a story that is at the same time inspiring yet tragic; for Law Lok Lam, after several decades as a âgreen leaf actorâ (supporting actor), he suddenly becomes an international star â a situation that similarly evokes tears among laughter.
Law Lok Lam married at a young age and after having 2 daughters, he and his first wife divorced. After that, he married actress Chan Po Yee and became famous actress Connie Chan Po Chuâs brother-in-law [TN: Chan Po Yee is Connie Chanâs younger sister]. With those types of connections, Law Lok Lam could have lived a glamorous âstarâ life, but instead, he chose a lifestyle that is both simple and unadorned â he enjoys going to the local open-air street market in Kowloon City to buy groceries and sometimes meets up with friends at a Kowloon City sushi restaurant for some drinks and chit-chat. In fact, for this interview, he requested for the reporter to meet him in Kowloon City to chat over a meal of ox tendon noodles. With regard to his lifestyle, Law Lok Lam expresses: âI like âgenuineâ â to me, the worst thing in life is being âfakeâ.â
Whether itâs bumping into him in the street, seeing him at a local HK diner, or seeing him on TV for a â24 hourâ timespan, Law Lok Lam indeed lives with us âunder the same skylineâ.
From a background dancer to one of director Chang Cheâs core actors
Law Lok Lam was born in ChaoZhou, a prefecture in Guangdong, but immigrated to Macau in his teens. In terms of education, he dropped out of school after his first year in high school and at the age of 14, came to Hong Kong with his family. During those years, he worked at a plastics factory and was responsible for following the truck drivers on their trips to deliver freight. As the only son in the family, Law Lok Lam decided to help out his father when he opened up a small travel agency a few years later, becoming a tour guide for the agency. At the age of 23, during the last year that the Southern Drama Group (the Acting Class for Shaw Brothers artists) was in existence, he made it into the final class and studied there for 1 year.
âAfter I came out from the class, I was a âke le feâ (extra), pretty much just stood around and didnât have any linesâŚonce the stuntman finished his action sequence, I would lie down on the floor and be the corpse.â
When he first started in the industry 40 years ago, Law Lok Lam was already doing âdeath scenesâ, so with his âexpertiseâ in this area, having to âdieâ 5 times in 1 day is not unusual at all. However, the job of an âextraâ was too low-paying, so luckily, he had a side job as dancer to help him earn more money.
âIn the Acting Class, there was an instructor, Mrs. Ng, who taught dance â I would go with her to various dance performances, both big and small â even if most of the time, I was just part of the âbackground sceneryâ, I was satisfied because I was learning a lot and eventually, I became part of the dance group. One time, director Chang Che was filming a movie with John Chiang and Tik Lung as the leads â there was a scene where he needed some dancers, so our group took on the task. The director took notice of me and wrote my name down â a few months later, Shaw Brothersâ production department called me and said that director Chang Che recommended me to sign a contract with them. That was when my acting career officially began.â
One would think that being able to join the Shaw Brothers Company, plus being part of director Chang Cheâs designated group of actors, Law Lok Lamâs career should be bright and promising, right? Unfortunately, that wasnât the case, as the huge production company had very precise separations when it came to position and rank.
âI was not one of Chang Cheâs âgod-sonsâ â his true god-sons were John Chiang, Tik Lung, Chan Koon Tai, Danny Lee. However I did get to participate in almost every one of Chang Cheâs films, so I guess you could say that I was a âcore memberâ of his acting troupe.â
So as a âcore memberâ, it would make sense that Law Lok Lam should become a âmartial arts actorâ, since Chang Cheâs forte was in martial arts action films, however his case was exactly opposite, as Chang Che wanted him to focus on artistic films instead.
âThe film where I had the most screentime was <<Young People>>, which I believe was Agnes Chan [Mei Ling]âs first film â we were paired together in the film, she would play the guitar and sing while I danced. After about 2-3 years with Shaw Brothers, I decided to leave, as my career wasnât really going anywhere â Chang Che signed me, but didnât use me for martial arts. Coincidentally, at that time, there were also other directors outside who were willing to give me opportunities, so I left to shoot action films â it was pretty much after I left Chang Che that I became a martial arts actor.â
Kung Fan Hung was opposed to Law Lok Lam dating her daughter
With his thick eyebrows and 'rough' facial features, Law Lok Lam was perfect for the martial arts action hero roles â indeed, he expressed that he has already forgotten how many action films he has done, but in most of them, the roles were mainly supporting. In the late 1970s, he joined Commercial Television (佳藝電視) and got the chance to participate in their version of <<Legend of the Condor Heroes>>, where he played one of the Senior leaders of the Beggar Clan. After that, he was chosen by producer Hsiao Sheng to play the role of Yang Guo in the Commercial Television version of <<Return of the Condor Heroes>> -- at the age of 28, this was the first time that Law Lok Lam got the chance to be the male lead.
The steps that life takes can be very strange â for Law Lok Lam, he first had marriage before he had a career. At 21, he got married and not too long after that, he had 2 daughters.
âMy first wife was a distant relative of my cousinâs family. I donât know how to explain why we got married and why we divorced â all I can say is that when fate comes, you canât push it away and when fate is at its end, you canât force it to stay.â
After his divorce, Law Lok Lam met actress Chan Po Yee, who had just entered Commercial Television and had already made a deep impression on audiences with her performance in <<Dream of the Red Chamber>>. Even though there was a big age difference between them, that didnât stop them from falling deeply in love. Chan Po Yeeâs background is quite unique: her biological parents separated when she was very little and she ended up being adopted by a neighbor â renowned Cantonese opera star Kung Fan Hung. Her older sister Connie Chan [Po-Chu] was also adopted by Kung Fan Hung from a young age, however the relationship between the sisters and their adoptive mother was very close. When Law Lok Lam and Chan Po Yee first started dating, Kung Fan Hung was opposed to their union.
âI call Kung Fan Hung âMomâ and have the utmost respect for her. At that time, it made sense that Mom would want her daughter to marry someone who was more of match for the family in terms of status and background. Even though I had lead roles during that time, I was still a âsmall actorâ after all, so it was natural for Mom to be opposed. I did not purposefully try to do anything to change Momâs view of me â as she got to know me better, she eventually saw what type of person I was. Thatâs how my personality is â I hate being âfakeâ; itâs very easy to deceive others and pretend that Iâm a very good person, but to be honest, the deception wonât last long and the truth will eventually come out. Later on, Mom ended up loving me like her son and we were all very happy together.â
Law Lok Lam calls sister-in-law Connie Chan â3rd Sisterâ; even though he is brother-in-law of such a famous star, he expresses that he does not feel any pressure at all â he still takes the bus and the subway whenever he needs to go somewhere, he still goes to the street markets to buy groceries, etc. â basically, he continues to be himself and because of that he is able to live a relaxing life.
âConnie is a woman whom I respect a lot. In my life, there are 2 âseniorsâ [in the industry] whom I respect the most â one is âmaster of dramaâ King Sir [Chung King Fai] and the other is 3rd Sister [Connie]. 3rd sisterâs absolute professionalism, her reverence toward her elders and those who once taught her â in todayâs generation, itâs very hard to find these qualities. Also, her piety and obedience toward her mother is absolutely admirable â she continued to live with Mom all these years, up until Mom passed away last year in her 90s (TN: Kung Fan Hung passed away after she was rushed to the hospital when she fainted right before Connieâs Cantonese opera performance at HK Coliseum last year). The piety and strength that she showed during that difficult time deeply moved me â the goodness that she shows toward others is not reliant on words alone, she truly demonstrates it through her actions. Her fans are very loyal to her and every year, during the Lunar New Year holiday, they would bring their children and families to come give her well wishesâŚtruly amazing!â
When Commercial Television abruptly closed down in the late 1970s, Law Lok Lam was not only out of a job, he also was not able to get back the salary that he was still owed. Luckily, almost immediately, Rediffusion Television [TN: ATVâs predecessor] hired him â not long after that, his youngest daughter was born. Soon, Law Lok Lam and his wife Chan Po Yee as well as their 3 daughters became a âcelebrity familyâ that would show up in the news every so often.
âAlex Man [Zi Leung] and I were sworn brothers, so when my youngest daughter was born, he âadoptedâ her as a god-daughter. Even though we were from different backgrounds â he is Hakka and I am ChaoZhao â we got along quite well and always had a lot to talk about. Alot of people say that Alex is a very âexplosiveâ person, but I didnât think he was too bad.â
From one of Commercial Televisionâs âsiu sangsâ (male lead) to ATV âzong sangâ (middle-aged male lead) to TVB âgreen leaf kingâ (supporting actor), Law Lok Lam admits that as he got older, he started to change. In the past, he loved to hang out with groups of friends, going to bars, playing Mahhjong, etc. â pretty much he liked to socialize and be around people. Now, he has become more of a âlonerâ who enjoys going to Kowloon City in the middle of the night and having a drink or two.
âAt my age, itâs not unusal at all. I like going out by myself to study the script for the series Iâm filming and prepare for the next dayâs work â itâs very relaxing and Iâve never felt bored. Actually, I do have a lot of friends in various places â at night, no matter which eatery I go to, I know almost everyone at all the tables, so I donât feel as though Iâm all alone by myself. And for those who say that I am trying to âdrink away my troublesâ with alcohol â well, just because I have a few drinks does not mean Iâm drunk or do crazy things. Actually, people say that my âalcohol dispositionâ is very good -- in my case, Iâm âenjoyingâ alcohol, not âabusingâ it.â
Law Lok Lam admits that he is a bit of a wine connoisseur â he enjoys drinking whiskey, red wine, and brandy the most. Many of the things that he had once âobsessedâ over in his life he has been able to give up â except wine.
âI understand that the benefits of wine are very few and in fact, it does more harm than good. But I had already given up smoking decades ago and gambling too (in the past, I would often meet up with friends and weâd go play mahjong or bet on horse racing) â the only thing left now is wine. Donât tell me to give up wine because if I do, then everythingâs over â if one day, I eventually do give up wine as well, then that means that my body is sending me a message to stop. Everyone needs to have a hobby â Iâm in my 60s now and if I had to give up wine too, then I donât know what else I can do.â
In a different world from his wife
With his sudden popularity, there have been rumors recently of possible trouble with Law Lok Lamâs marriage to Chan Po Yee and that they still remain together purely because of their daughter. Though he admits that he and Po Yee have been sleeping in separate rooms for quite some time, he denies any problems with his marriage.
âBack when we were dating, of course there was a lot of passion and happiness, just like what any other young couple would experience. But as time goes on, the passion will lessen and no matter how vigorous our love was back then, love will eventually turn into affection and affection will eventually become ordinary. I will very honestly tell you that after so many years together, there are many aspects of our relationship that are different now â the most obvious is religion. In the past, both of us were Buddhists â every morning, I had a ritual of getting up and cleaning out the water on the blessing altar and lighting an incense stick before going to work. My wife is a Christian now, so with our religions being different, our circle of friends is different as well â she has her world and I have mine.â
His wife is an insurance agent now, so she has more opportunities to attend social events necessary for her work â Law Lok Lam still enjoys a simple life and keeps social events to a minimum. His biggest âextracurricular activityâ is hanging out in Kowloon City â even though he and his family already moved from Kowloon City to Clearwater Bay decades ago, he still has a special place in his heart for the city and in his spare time, still goes back to the local shops and eateries there.
âA lot of people think that I still live in Kowloon City â even the local police think that I am a Kowloon City resident because they see me around so much when theyâre walking their beats around the city. Sometimes, I would go to Kowloon City two to three times a day for various things â yes, there are supermarkets everywhere, but when I go to the market, I always choose to go to the ones in Kowloon City.â
Today, prior to our interview, Law Lok Lam allowed us to follow him around so we could understand a typical day for him (on days he doesnât have to work, that is). First, he goes to a vegetarian restaurant for some dim sum and 2 pots of very strong tea (to âclean the insidesâ, he says), then he takes us to a local diner for a simple meal of ox tendon noodles. If he doesnât have to work, then he follows his routine of going to the Kowloon City street market to buy fresh groceries, after which he goes home and cooks dinner for his wife and housekeeper (domestic helper).
âThe housekeeper doesnât know how to cook â her job is mainly to clean the house and take care of the dogs â so I usually cook for the family. If I have to work that night, then they usually eat take out.â
Not enough money to retire
At home, he tightly guards his kitchen; at TVB, he tightly guards his supporting actor position, working hard behind the scenes without complaint or fanfare â surprisingly, television fans were still able to ânoticeâ that he had âdiedâ 5 times in 5 different TV series within 24 hours â I guess you could consider that a type of accomplishment.
âItâs the same with all jobs â the most important thing is to actually do the work. Like with this instance, if I hadnât filmed so many series, then there wouldnât be the âcoincidenceâ that occurred â a lot of things were meant to be. I donât really choose which series I participate in â to be honest, at my age, itâs not up to me to choose anyway.â
This month, Law Lok Lam has 3 series that he is filming at once â he expresses that his ârecordâ was actually filming 5 to 6 series all at once; in fact, there have been instances where in one night, all 3 third-line series that were airing had him in it. With so much effort that he puts into filming series, does he feel that what he is getting in return is comparable?
âFor a Hong Kong artist, itâs considered comparable. But with my career path â doing lead roles in my youth and still working hard decades later â if I were in an international arena, I would probably have several houses, cars, and even bodyguards, by now. However in Hong Kong, I am only an ordinary person â thatâs the way things work. If I were to constantly think about that kind of stuff, I would be depressed all the time. Thatâs why I donât think about it â as long as I still have money to pay for wine and can still buy the things that I (and my family) like to eat, then itâs OK.â
Itâs hard for outsiders to understand the âplightâ that TVB artists endure and for most (including Law Lok Lam), the âsufferingâ is often in silence.
âNot enough sleep, filming all day and all night â this kind of procedure is definitely problematic and you wonât find it anywhere else in the world. The physical demands of filming a series is quite high â for example, filming two series at the same time, there is a high possibility that you wonât get to sleep for 1-2 days straight. Iâm already in my 60s â occasionally, I still have to do martial arts scenes, ride horses, wear thick ancient costumes in the scalding heat, take off my costume and have water poured on me in freezing cold weather, etc. If one day, you want to continue filming but your body is no longer able to endure it, then you know the day has come for retirement. If you were to ask me right now whether I have enough âqualificationsâ for retirement, I would tell you ânoâ â I havenât earned enough money yet.â
Law Lok Lam laughs that he has been in the industry for over 40 years already and still, he only knows how to act, but doesnât know how to invest, and especially doesnât know how to do business. As for when he will be able to retire, well, heâll have to wait and see what the Heavens arrange.
Law Lok Lam only has a first year high school education, however oftentimes, he is chosen to play roles of famous professionals or generals. His performance as famous general Yuen Sai Hoi in the series <<In the Chamber of Bliss>> received much praise â Law Lok Lam expressed that his âresearchâ for the character wasnât reliant on reading books, but rather on his âdrinkingâ habit.
âIn the process of going out for my drinks, I actually learn a lot. Believe it or not, a lot of highly educated professionals actually like to come out for a drink at night too, so sometimes we would drink together â I would ask them what type of a person Yuen Sai Hoi was and they would tell me a lot of stories. I also like to drink herbal tea, so on one of my trips to Kung Wo Tong [TN: a famous herbal tea shop in HK], I met a business person who is very knowledgeable in Chinese history, medicine, and herbs, so for my character in <<The Herbalistâs Manual>>, thatâs how I did my research.â
Ever since his accomplishment of âdying 5 times in 24 hoursâ made international news headlines, his âdrinking buddiesâ have âcelebratedâ by drinking the best wines with him â hopefully now, people will no longer think that he is âusingâ alcohol to âdrink away his troublesâ anymore.
Posted 27 April 2011 - 05:14 AM
Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:40 AM
It was a long article but rather enjoyable. LLL is the face I always saw back in the good old days and he never failed to make me believe in his character. My mom likes him and she's always saying his eyes are too sweet to play the bad guy lol. LLL is a good villain when he is one and when he plays a good character it kinda irks me because of his rough features lol but he still portrays it well. TVB is lucky that they still have around because he really is a great actor.
Heh, for me it's the opposite. It's hard to see him doing a nice role because of the villain roles he had in the past.
Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:23 AM
Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:31 AM
Exactly why I said in my previous post that it irks me when he's a good guy
Heh, for me it's the opposite. It's hard to see him doing a nice role because of the villain roles he had in the past.
Posted 27 April 2011 - 09:48 AM
Posted 27 April 2011 - 10:27 AM
Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:12 PM
Mingpao did it again....love all their interviews. This is a great one. I have gotten to know Mr Law better now
I agree...that's one of the things that sets the magazine apart from the other run of the mill gossip mags in HK....that and the fact that they do have a few long-time, well-respected and well-known reporters working for them whom most of the stars respect and are willing to "open up" to with interviews. Of course, there are some things I don't like about the mag, but the in-depth interviews with a variety of HK celebrities is what has made me a dedicated reader for years....