Co-stars talk about perks of working with Chow

5 January 2013 / 3 years 9 months ago

Source: The Straits TimesWorking with Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun Fat has its privileges for his fellow actors and not just the obvious ones of learning from the veteran.His wife, Singaporean Jasmine Tan, would visit the set of The Last Tycoon with food such as fruit and pineapple buns for everyone, recalls 35-year-old China actress Yolanda Yuan.Professionally, of course, nothing beats studying at the feet of someone whom she has admired since she was a child. Yuan says: "I was a little nervous at the start of filming as he was someone I idolised as a young girl."But all that melted away on the set. She describes the experience of working with the 57-year-old actor: "His emotions are totally invested in a scene and then he would pass the ball to you."As a mark of respect, she addresses Chow as Fa ge, literally "big brother Fat".She adds: "Fa ge gave me a lot of help. When he's standing across from you, you would be moved by his sense of righteousness and depth of emotion."In The Last Tycoon, an action drama set in Shanghai in the turbulent early 1900s, Chow plays powerful mobster Cheng Daqi and Yuan is his first love, Zhiqiu. The movie opens here tomorrow.Speaking to Life! at Marina Bay Sands when she was here for the film's world premiere earlier this month as part of the ScreenSingapore film event, Yuan also recalls how Chow was the consummate professional when the camera was rolling "but the second before, while we are getting ready, he would be telling jokes and getting people to relax".Her role in The Last Tycoon required her to do more than stretch her acting skills opposite a revered actor - she also had to call upon her training as a Chinese opera artist. Her character is an opera artist and she has scenes towards the end where her skills in the art are needed.She studied Chinese opera from the the age of 11 till she was 18 at the National Academy Of Chinese Theatre Middle School Affiliate.She still remembers the mantra from those days: "If you don't practise for one day, you yourself will know it. If you don't practise for three days, the audience will know."Over the years, she says she had wondered: "When would I have the chance to put on opera make-up again?" So taking to the stage in The Last Tycoon was "like returning home" for her.The versatile Yuan has also tread the boards as a theatre actress. In fact, she performed in the Mandarin play Amber staged at the Esplanade for the Singapore Arts Festival in 2005.She has good memories of that stint and adds: "Singapore's durian theatre is one of the best overall theatres I've been in."She also remembers the local food fondly and says char kway teow and chilli crab are some of the dishes she enjoys.She will continue to shuttle between the stage and the screen, but acting is not the be-all and end-all for her.She is married to China actor Xia Yu and they have a daughter. She says: "I've always paid more attention to living. Of course, career is important but it's only one part of life."

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