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Interview with Eric Tsang Chi Wai
Infernal Affairs 1/1 - Page 6
Author(s) : Gina Marchetti
Amy Lee
Thomas Podvin
Date : 14/12/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chow Yun Fat
Anthony Wong Chau Sang
Anthony Wong Chau Sang
Movies :
Comrades, Almost A Love Story
Infernal Affairs
< Previous
Page 5 : Serious roles for a serious actor
Next >
Page 7 : Film Industry

HKCM : Late 90's, you have had serious roles (Comrades almost a love story 1996, Hold you tight 1998). But maybe Infernal Affairs gave you even more credibility in tragic roles. You managed to be serious and credible for the Infernal Affairs trilogy. How difficult was it to portray such cold blooded triad boss?
ET : I was the last actor cast on the last day for that film. My character was supposed to be played by Anthony Wong. They tried to find the guy to play the policeman. They wanted someone to play the policeman who had won the best actor award in Hong Kong , and they gave the role to Anthony Wong. Whenever I look at the script for a movie, I always want to try to find the person to make me believe in the character. For example, in Comrades, Almost A Love Story, I had a friend whom I imagined looked like Pao Au-Yeung, the gangster I play in the film. He is short like me, not handsome, but he always had a lot of girls and a lot of fun. Money meant nothing to him, and he was always telling jokes, which made the girls happy. So, girls liked him, and I thought Pao must be like this.

I tried to convince myself that I could be Sam in Infernal Affairs the same way. I saw Avenging Angelo (2002) with Anthony Quinn in his last starring role before he died. In every scene, he was eating, and that defined his character. I wanted to be a guy that no one could pin down. No one knew when he was happy and when he was sad. He was always different. Anthony Quinn (Angelo) was always manipulating the younger gangsters to go against each other. He was getting older, and, at one point, the younger gangsters come to him to help with a deal. He is eating, of course, and he negotiates the percentages with them. He blows up when he hears the terms. It was a great scene. So, I wanted to do that I wanted a scene in which I would be eating in a police station. I felt that scene really defines the character of Sam. The most important thing about playing this role is the fact that I am old enough to be the boss of Andy Lau and Tony Leung. I saw these two actors grow up in the film business. So, it was natural for me to be the boss. If I hadn't known them, I wouldn't have been as natural. They are like brothers to me, so it was easy for me to be the big boss.

Infernal Affairs

Sam is also a very volatile character. He changes a lot in the film. He survives a lot. He ends up being very peaceful inside. In part two, the film shows his history with his wife. He loves her, and, when someone takes her away, he changes. He changes at the same time Hong Kong changes in 1997. So, the scene of the Handover is very significant. He begins to wear a tuxedo, smoke cigars, and always laugh.
HKCM : Could you talk about your special rapport with Anthony Wong Chau-Sang?
ET : More than ten years ago in Singapore, reporters asked me who would be the next Chow Yun-Fat, and I said they should keep their eyes on Anthony Wong Chau-Sang. He's a very good actor, but no one believed me. I always enjoy working with him. For example, in the scene in which I am eating with him in the police station, I talk and eat, then pack my things to leave, and I turn and talk some more. Then, the scene is repeated. He talks and I eat. As a good actor, you have to work to help the other actor and not just put yourself forward. You must help the scene.

Anthony Wong & Eric Tsang

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