In new film Lost and Love, Andy Lau tried his best to become a farmer, he is aware of his superstar status, he does not denied to show off and made it peasant, he’s not also restricted by this identity. He found balance in different identities and challenges, in addition his own philosophy in fate.
Mainland China scriptwriter Peng Sanyuan first film – Lost and Love found Andy Lau, casting him as a poor farmer whom son was abducted, the film’s investor Huayi Brothers Media Group was “so angry”. “How could you cast Andy Lau in this role? Firstly, is he willing? Secondly, does he looked like one? Will people believe?” The producer said.
In the eyes of the producer, this director had selected an actor who belongs to extremely different world of the character, on one side is a handsome gentleman Hong Kong superstar, on another side is a farmer from Anhui riding on a motorcycle searching for his son. When director Peng Sanyuan approached him, Andy feel that this is a challenging and meaningful character to the society. Now, the film is just one month away from being screened in cinemas, there was a lot of discussion in the Internet about this film.
“Removing the star status, why pick Andy Lau to be a Chinese farmer?” a netizen asked on douban.com. “Firstly please tell me, why Andy Lau can be cast as a farmer?” Another netizens replied. Being on the silver screen for 35 years, Andy had tried different identities. He need to be an artist, an idol, a singer and a good actor, meanwhile he also invest in films. These identities are inter-connecting but not easy to manage. “Actually everybody is afraid of approaching me to be in their films. That superstar is expensive and not sure whether he’s willing. This mentality is very hard to change.” Andy told GQ magazine in a photo studio in Chai Wan, Hong Kong.
Fighting hard in showbiz for so many years, this 53 years old man is able to see himself clearly and his position in this showbiz circle. He lived along well with his superstar status and did not try to deny outsiders’ praise of his perfect and role model image, he also did not reject those character that will clashes with his image.
Sometimes breakthrough, sometimes turning around, sometimes take a steady path, Andy has confidence in maintaining a balance. He has the guts to try and take up challenge for a dangerous character.
Since the day he took up the Lost and Love offer, Andy said he immediately stopped taking care of his skin nor styled his hair, no sun block and went for sun tanning. He changed his hairstyle, he left the short to grow long and the long was cut short, wiping away the traces of his normal image. Then he learn the posture of wearing the helmet and carrying a bag like a farmer, making himself closer to the image, he asked the crew members to buy the old clothes and shoes from farmer to be his costume.
“Only I walked on the streets, nobody will recognize me, that I’m successful.” Andy said. He’s willing to act, he wanted millions pair of eyes to prove that he can act. In the film, the farmer Lei Zhekuan search for his abducted son, 15 years on the road with his motorcycle, wearing a helmet for the whole day. In order to get closer to his character, he’s still wearing his helmet although shooting is over. Many people said, this time round the idol is not showing off his looks. But to wash away his artiste look is not a one-two-day effort. Andy once told us a story, when he collaborated with Johnnie To in A Moment of Romance in 1990, they quarrel because of the helmet. When Andy rode a motorcycle in the film, he would arrange his hair immediately after taking off the helmet, Johnnie scolded him why he need to arrange his hair, is it because you’re an idol? Andy remembered it, for the second take he did not arrange his hair, but after a while he forgot and was scolded by Johnnie again.
25 years had went by, Andy said that being in a film, he not to perform but to experience. He think like this: Andy Lau was born in a village in Anhui, married had a wife and mother, suddenly one day when he came back home after farming with his wife, his son is missing. He went crazy, rode his motorcycle to look for his son, every year other than sow in spring and reap in autum, the rest of the time he would be on the road.
“That is not a character, that is Andy Lau.” He said, putting himself into it, all the things will go through. He managed to experience the farmer Lei Zhekuan sorrow, wanted to cry but can’t cry, angry with his own fate but he could not changed it.
He never deny that he not good at handling such complicated feeling character. “At the beginning I really don’t understand, why human’s reaction can be so plain, why a human’s emotion can be so self-restrain? Good that I have shot A Simple Life, if not I would not understand.” He quipped that it’s like singing good praise of himself.
In 2011, Andy was the investor and male lead in director Ann Hui’s A Simple Life. In the film, Andy is a middle-age film producer, taking care of his maid Tao Jie (whom took care of him since young) whom suffered from stroke. There’s no up and down in the film, it’s all normal day life, Andy’s relaxed performed made people turned their heads. That performance won him the Best Actor award in Taiwan’s Golden Horse Film Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards.
Many film critics talked about Andy’s success, they would always used the word “hardworking” instead of “talent”. After graduating from TVB artiste training classes in 1982, Andy stepped up to the silver screen, acted in more than 140 films, on an average he’s in 4 different film’s character every year. He’s the triad member in As Tears Goes By, the fatso who fall in love with a woman in Love On A Diet, he’s a muscleman monk who saved lives in Running on Karma, a cool and complicated criminal in Running Out of Time. Whether to accept a film offer, Andy always stressed that he does not have a standard, sometimes he seldom determine which type of character he liked. “I will do my best to accept offers, not giving chances to others,” he joked. Many times he act according to his feeling, after accepting, it could be a lousy or good film.
He accepted Future Cop is to “return a favor”, he accepted A Simple Life is the male lead making up for himself, Detective Dee he accepted without looking at the script because it was a Tsui Hark production. Whether it a lousy or good film, there will be baptism after numerous films. Andy said, in the end he slowly managed to remove his “outer shell” performance, more precise acting and concentrate on inner heart experience. After discovering, he slowly found his own path of acting.
Counting among the 140 films, Andy acted a triad member the most but with some gentle side. Most of the time, he’s a hero saving others from danger, he can be a villain but won’t be that evil. Upright, helpful, handsome and strong brotherhood, Andy’s characters always have such elements. All these had connected with his idol image, forming a perfect image.
“I acted it normally but everybody would feel that I’m heroic,” Andy joked to the reporter, “Maybe heroic blood is flowing inside me.” In the eyes of Chinese and Hongkongers, Andy Lau is a hero in this normal generation. He’s born to a Hong Kong family of common salary, he stayed in the poor area, since young he helped wash bowls in his father’s provision shop, he worked part time in glove factory during the summer holidays of his secondary school days. After graduating from secondary school, he registered himself in TVB Artiste Training Classes, depended on his hard work and determination, he managed to conquered in TV, films and singing, won numerous awards, won the number one spot in Taiwan Top 10 Idols for 6 consecutive years, he was awarded Grand Bauhinia Medal by the Hong Kong government in 2004. In the 35 years hard work in showbiz, many artistes had faded away and after the changing of generations, Andy’s popularity can be considered as evergreen.
The Hongkongers admiration for him had exceeded the idol-ism of a handsome idol. In 2011, Hong Kong social website did a survey and he was selected to be nominated as the Chief Executive, he topped the charts with 32% of the votes. Hongkongers named his undying spirit as Andy Lau Spirit. This man’s glory is hard to achieve, he once said that Andy Lau is a myth made up by the media, but each happening proves that, he cherished his perfect image. In normal life, other than go bowling and see doctor, he seldom appeared on the streets, he seldom have allegations, he avoided talking about his private life to the media, he also kept his wife Carol Chu and daughter under tight security. Under the paparazzi crazy Hong Kong, Andy still maintained a good and amidst mystery image. A common citizen would have to make some guesses of him. In 2012, Andy was interviewed in a TVB variety talk-show, the citizens could post their questions to him, their questions were: “Does you sleep?”, “Did you eat?”, Andy revealed his trademark smile and answered seriously: “I did eat and I just ate a pork chop rice.”
Andy knew the superstar image to his showbiz career is not all advantages. Many film directors tends to distance themselves from him, they would think “His hair is untouchable”, “he can’t shave his head”. When a person acted well for himself, it’s hard to act as other character. In the soon to be screen Lost and Love, he once discussed with the film director if he need to learn the Anhui dialect, in the end it’s not needed. “If you see Andy Lau spoke dialect on TV, everybody will find it strange, let’s talk about it, how hardworking is this Andy Lau, still wanted to learn to speak a dialect.” Andy said.
Despite all these disappointments, this man still full of confidence for his superstar image. “I feel that every actor hope to be like me, this is for sure.” Andy told the reporter. Looking back, Andy feel that he looked a bit like the blind detective – Johnston in Blind Detective. “He don’t talked about logic for most things, it depended on feelings, just like which to act and walk which path, you can’t calculate, walked according to how you feel.”
Walking according to feelings, a steady path to the top, being at the top for many years Andy sometimes will think of fate. The theme for Lost and Love is “fate”, the main focus to understand male lead Lei Zhekuan is also fate. “He knew his fate, he also knew he had no choice, the world would not change because of you, fate will also do nothing for you, happy sad is not prepared for you only. He admitted to fate, but sometimes he would feel, let me lose my temper to relax. When one encounter something that you can’t hide, you will still lose your temper.”
Andy said, there is no logic in fate, you can’t see through it. “The most lousy scriptwriter is god, there’s no bedding. If he wish you to be successful one day, he would take away all talented person beside you away, bring them back, then you will be the best in the world.” This full of confidence superstar did not mention if the lucky man he was referring includes Andy Lau.
news and photos from: fashion.sohu.com