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Interview with Eric Tsang Chi Wai
Serious roles for a serious actor 1/1 - Page 5
Author(s) : Gina Marchetti
Amy Lee
Thomas Podvin
Date : 14/12/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Peter Chan Ho Sun
Maggie Cheung Man Yuk
Stanley Kwan Kam Pang
Leon Lai Ming
Cora Miao
Alan Tam Wing Lun
Patrick Tam Kar Ming
Wayne Wang
Movies :
Alan And Eric : Between Hello And Goodbye
Armour Of God
Comrades, Almost A Love Story
Eat A Bowl Of Tea
Everyday Is Valentine
The Final Victory
He's A Woman, She's A Man
< Previous
Page 4 : UFO
Next >
Page 6 : Infernal Affairs

HKCM : Since the 70's, people always have been used to see you in comedies, like a clown, or a funny guy. In 1989 you worked with Wayne Wang on Eat a Bowl of Tea. From then, your body language changed a lot. You dropped your clown outfit to play serious roles for several times... Could you talk about the switch in your career when you began to take on more serious roles in films like Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989), Comrades, Almost A Love Story (1996) and Hold You Tight (1997)?
ET : Before I was always associated with comedy for a reason. I was making a film with Stanley Kwan, Women (1985), with my ex-wife I was in just one scene. My ex-wife was talking with my back to the camera, and the camera turns to reveal my face. She is crying in this scene, but, when the camera turns to my face, suddenly everyone laughs. So I said I cannot make this kind of film I really destroyed the movie.

Comrades, Almost A Love Story

Then, Wayne Wang wanted me for Eat a Bowl of Tea. I met him through his producer, who was a friend of mine. I was trying to help him find actors, and he told me I should play the character Ah Song. So, I had to play opposite Cora Miao (Mei Oi) and steal her from Russell Wong (Ben Loy). It's like that in Comrades, Almost A Love Story film, too; I have to take Maggie Cheung (Li Qiao) away from Leon Lai (Li Xiao-Jun). I always have to be in a love triangle with these tall, handsome men. How can I make people believe that Maggie would choose me over Leon Lai?

At that time, I was very busy I would work on eight movies at one time. When I act in comedy, I always do everything very fast, but for these films, I really had to slow down. I remember I had to very slowly walk across the room, look in the mirror, kiss my wife, and then wave good-bye. I did it, but I did it too quickly, so I asked what I should do. I was told to do nothing, so, when I did nothing, the director said it was great. Then, I'd go on the set of a comedy I was working on, and the director asked if I was sick because I was acting very slowly.

Eat a Bowl of Tea is a very important movie in my life because it really made me change the way I act. Around that time, I made a movie with Patrick Tam, The Final Victory (1987). I had a nomination for that movie. I can say that I really knew what acting was about after being in these two films. These two movies changed my life. I had my award for best actor in Alan And Eric : Between Hello And Goodbye (1991). I played “Eric” in that movie. Alan Tam and I had the idea for that movie for many years, but we were too busy to make it. We needed to do it before we got too old, because we had to be eighteen years old in the film. Peter Chan directed the movie. I think I won the award that year because I had consistently acted well for some time.

HKCM : Was it hard to play the role of the gay character Tong in Hold You Tight (1997)?
ET : It was a very difficult part. My relationship with Stanley Kwan goes back to doing that scene in Women (1985). Stanley thanked me for being in the film, and he told me that I should call him if I ever decided to direct again and I needed an assistant director. So, when I did Armour of God, Stanley was my assistant director. So, for Hold You Tight, he asked me to play a gay character, and I said no problem. He said it wasn't going to be a comic gay character like in Peter Chan's He's A Woman, She's A Man (1994). Then, he said there was a sex scene in it, and I said, “Why not? I'm an actor.” The first day he wanted to shoot the sex scene, but I told him I wasn't ready yet. One week later, I still wasn't ready. Finally, on the last day, I agreed to do it, and I began to realize how actresses feel when they say yes to sex scenes. Also, I was doing the scene with an ordinary person, not another actor. That was hard. It was the last day, last scene, last shot. They brought me to a real gay bar, and I tried to study the people there. It was a challenge.

He's A Woman, She's A Man

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