Christopher Lee, 43, won the Best Lead Actor award at the prestigious Golden Bell Awards in Taiwan over the weekend. He bagged the Taiwanese “Emmy” for his role as a workaholic husband struggling to save his marriage in the hit family drama A Good Wife.
Here are eight things to know about the Malaysian-born ex-MediaCorp actor, who is married to actress Fann Wong, 43. Their first child was born on National Day this year.
1. Fann and Christopher were reel lovers in the beginning
The couple starred together in popular local serial Return Of The Condor Heroes in 1998, playing lovers in the period drama. They were romantically linked after Fann broke up with a former boyfriend in 1999.
2. He is cool about being hitched to a more famous spouse
He was gracious and funny when The New Paper asked him in 2008 if he felt any pressure when he first started dating Fann. “What kind of pressure?” he asked innocently. Well, Christopher, she is a Caldecott Hill queen, you know?
The man can fend for himself. “Oi, I’m not that bad! I’m also quite famous and I have a proper job,’’ he protested coolly. “It’s not like I ‘chi ruan fan’.” This means “eating soft rice”, which suggests that a man is depending on his woman for a living. “I only love to eat ‘ka li fan’,” he quipped, referring to curry rice.
3. But he really isn’t short on accolades either
Christopher was first runner-up in the male category of the Star Search programme in 1995, and signed on after that with TCS (now MediaCorp). His star rose when he won the Best Actor award at the Star Awards 1997 for his role as as a traitor in the television drama The Price Of Peace, set in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation.
In 2013, he won the Best Actor award again at the Star Awards for Show Hand, where he played a former actor and jailbird.
And of course he’s red-hot all over again - and it’s clear he has great cross-boundary appeal - after winning his coveted Golden Bell Award in Taiwan.
4. Condor hero, cabbie and convict
Christopher has played all the above characters in his more notable screen roles. In 1998, he starred as Yang Guo, the protagonist in The Return Of The Condor Heroes, adapted from Louis Cha's wuxia novel.
In 2010, he played a distraught cabbie in filmmaker Kelvin Tong’s suspense movie, Kidnapper. Also noteworthy was Show Hand in 2012, where he played a man nabbed in a gambling den.
His is a diverse portfolio, and a couple other roles were: randy bar owner in volleyball drama Beach. Ball.Babes (2008) and company CEO in A Mobile Love Story (2007). In the just-aired Against The Tide, a psychodrama on Channel 8, he was a suspense novelist.
5. He was a butcher’s assistant at 14
Born in a village in Malacca, Christopher’s father was a bookkeeper in a beehoon factory while his mother was a housewife.
He once worked as a butcher’s assistant at age 14, earning about $5 a day to help his family. He would wrap cuts of meat and deliver lard to hawker stalls before going to school in the afternoon.
In school, the athletic boy loved playing basketball and was an active sea scout, but once confessed in an interview with Life! that when it came to studying, “I was ‘stoned’.”
He only scored a few credits in his O levels. But he was a good butcher boy and these days, he can expertly recommend which cuts of meat to use in recipes.
6. Curry rice landed him in jail
Christopher loves his curry rice. It landed him in very hot water - but there’s a sweet ending.
In 2006, he drove out in his black Mercedes to buy curry rice for supper in Little India. He hit a motorcylist and the pillion rider, then fled the scene.
Found guilty of drink-driving and hit-and-run charges, Lee was jailed four weeks at the Queenstown Remand Prison. He was also fined $4,500 and banned from driving for three years.
He returned to work at MediaCorp right after that, grateful that his contract was not terminated. He has ventured to the same Hainanese “scissors” curry rice stall - reportedly Lau Di Fang Restaurant - but says he has sought other new favourites as well.
7. He also ate curry rice on his wedding day
For Christopher's and Fann's "Wedding of the Year” in 2009, actress Patricia Mok devised naughty games to make it tough for Lee to whisk his bride to a tea reception with his parents at Shangri-la Hotel.
Patricia shoved a packet of curry rice at him, saying: “If you eat this, you will be able to take care of Fann for the rest of her life.”
Good-naturedly, he said: “That looks familiar.” He gobbled half a packet of the rice since “I want to marry Fann”.
8. Baby Zed
At the Golden Bell Awards, he tenderly thanked Fann, who wasn't present, and mentioned his baby Zed: “Thank you for everything, and for giving me such an adorable baby.”
Zed's birth on National Day was announced on Fann's Instagram account @fannaiaiwong. Her post showed the newborn – whose gender was not known till his birth - in a blue bib emblazoned with the words: "Worth the wait!"
Fann shared on her Instagram post: "Daddy and mummy felt indescribable happiness when we saw you. Our family is now even more complete. 9 August is the best day of our lives!"