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 HKCinemagic 2

Statistics :
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Interview with Anthony Wong Chau San
Just do It 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 1/7/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Jackie Chan
Stephen Chow Sing Chi
Andy Lau Tak Wah
Lau Ching Wan
Tony Leung Hung Wah
Eric Tsang Chi Wai
Anthony Wong Chau Sang
John Woo
Movies :
Hard Boiled
Infernal Affairs
The Mission
My Name Ain't Suzie
New Tenant
Top Banana Club
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Page 2 : Artistic values

Anthony Wong Chau Sang has been seen by westerners as not only a crazy actor in many first-class Category 3 - whatever this means - but also as a very versatile actor. Our appointment in the HK Ritz Carlton Hotel nearly turned bad, as I wasn't exactly waiting for him at the right place. The lobby and lounge being huge. Fortunately the very discreet and careful staff of the Ritz helped me find Anthony.

To interview such guy, considered a star overseas but a simple film industry worker locally, was tremendously hard and nerve-racking. Not that Anthony wasn't nice, but in the absence of our middle man, he felt a bit awkward and needed some time to adjust to my French accent and to put down his shield -- as you may notice in the following transcript. Eventually he relaxed and comfortably told me his story. It took a lot of energy to make him say more than just two words and I feel extremely grateful for his patience and the trust he eventually deigned granting me.

Despite all one can imagine Wong just follows the flow, his destiny, as he says. He never really made career plans. Meet the actor, meet the professional, meet the beast...

just do it

HKCinemagic : You've done quite a lot of movies in Hong-Kong. Less people know you also did some music.
Anthony Wong : Yeah, before, a long time ago [puffing on his cigarette].
HKCinemagic : You did covers, like “Blowing in the Wind”. Did you enjoy it?
A W : Not very much!
HKCinemagic : Unlike most people in the HK film industry, you studied to become an actor. Was it always a dream of yours?
A W : No, it was an accident.
HKCinemagic : Do you remember your first movie?
A W : My Name Ain't Suzie
HKCinemagic : Yes, in some interviews you said it's a favorite!
A W : Because I was young and didn't know how to act. It was very fresh. I've watched it some time ago and realised it wasn't me but somebody else. So it's quite interesting.
HKCinemagic : In France and in England, you are renown for your roles in Category-3 movies, but also to switch from big-budget to low-budget films, from commercial movies to art-house movies. How do you manage that?
A W : Destiny. I just follow my destiny [with an annoyed look]. No Planning. Just do it. HK actors are also very negative. I am not a star, I am just an actor. Just sit there and wait. Waiting for the opportunity. And when you get the opportunity you have two choices. Just do it or leave it. That's all.
HKCinemagic : You are prolific. Is it a need for you to do as many films as possible?
A W : When you have two choices… [thinking thoroughly] Money! And the project of course, and people around it. When a project comes up, you have to consider if it can help. Can it give you more fame or it is just a job, just work...?
HKCinemagic : You also directed two movies, New Tenantand Top Banana Club. Do you keep some good memories?
A W : Yeah. Just experiences. Something comes up and you just want to experience it. Be a director. I had no plan.
HKCinemagic : If there is another opportunity in the future, would you do it?
A W : Yeah, yeah, yeah. Actually I have a story. I'd like to make it in France because it's about a man and three women, it's about relationships and sex. That's why I have to make it in France and not in HK! [with a wicked smile].
HKCinemagic : I remember some strange elements in New Tenants. Like Lau Ching Wan being mentally ill and also stories about turtles. Where did these ideas come from?
A W : Basically these ideas came from the producer [Tony Leung Hung Wah]. He gave me a very crap story and I rewrote it. At the time we didn't have money to hire a director. I told him maybe I can try. He gave me a chance to try, so that why I called this an “exercise.”
HKCinemagic : So you were the writer and the director.
A W : Hmmmm [sipping his cappuccino]. Of course, they didn't pay me! [Sarcastically].
HKCinemagic : Ah, they didn't?
A W : Yeah [smiling and drinking more cappuccino]. Didn't pay me for the direction and scriptwriting. But I really enjoyed it.
HKCinemagic : How do you prepare a role?
A W : Sometimes, just go there and do it. Depends on the characters and script. The first time you read a script you can tell if it's a good one or a bad one. If they just want to make something out, then just do it! Nobody cares!
HKCinemagic : If the character is deeper than usual, maybe you do some research…?
A W : Yeah, yeah.
HKCinemagic : In your 20-year long career, when did you feel people considered you more like a real actor?
A W : Lot of people knows me but I've got no success. I don't call this success. Jackie Chan is a success; Andy Lau is a success; Stephen Chow is a success -- but not me.

Anthony Wong and Tony Leung Chiu-wai in Infernal Affairs
HKCinemagic : French audience knows you mainly from your villain role in John Woo's Hard Boiled released in France and more recently for the Infernal Affairstrilogy and also The Mission. First, let's talk about Infernal Affairs , how did you prepare the role, did you have specific instructions from the directors ?
A W : Well, sometimes, I have some inspiration from the people I meet. The father of one of my friends was a policeman, and I know a few inspectors. They don't act like policemen or don't act really serious. They just go the office and sit in their office, doing paperwork all day. They are more like managers than police officers. So I played the role that way. Just very cool, manly, mature… very simple actually. Just doing a job.
HKCinemagic : You had also some great parts with Eric Tsang Chi Wai. You have a strong confrontation with him in the police station, how did you do it?
A W : It felt like two fighters on a ring, they are waiting. Waiting and observing. Seeing what to do we found our way  immediately. Just like that. I remember there was a lot of food in the table. That scene took 3 or 4 hours. And he [Tsang] kept waiting to smash the food all over. I was waiting and waiting and waiting, and at last he did it [laughter]. So it was a relief to smash the food away.
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