The New Paper
Aug 6, 2015
Being locked behind bars almost drove him mad. Hong Kong actor Jaycee Chan, son of action star Jackie Chan, was recently released from prison after serving his six-month sentence.
He and Taiwanese actor-singer Kai Ko were arrested last August for drug possession in Beijing. Chan, 32, talked about his harrowing experience in jail in an exclusive interview to Apple Daily Taiwan recently.
Asian Pop News reported via Apple Daily Taiwan that Chan's mental turmoil first started when he was let out of his cell and onto a small balcony for time to interact with the other inmates.
He saw an old man squatting in one corner of the balcony, shaking off his dandruff and peeling the skin from his feet.
Chan described the scene like one from a haunted film.
According to The Straits Times, Chan said: "I was afraid I would be mentally ill."
But he decided to confront his fear by talking to the old man.
Surprisingly, he found out that it was not what he had imagined — the old man was just collecting his dead skin so that he could feed it to the ants on the balcony.
Chan's initial worries that he would become like the old man were a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Chan said he himself started developing weird habits in prison as time went by, like killing mosquitoes because he wanted to feed them to the spiders.
He would also stick the dead mosquitoes to the wall to gauge the wind direction.
Once, when another inmate caused one of the mosquitoes to drop off the wall after Chan killed it, Chan went ballistic and started yelling:
"How am I going to tell the wind direction now?".
When he was not raging at the other inmates, he read books by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Buddhist monk Hsing Yun.
He also wrote brief diary entries every day, till he had enough content to send it as a letter to his mother.
He even wrote some rap songs describing prison life. Food-wise, it was a simple diet that consisted of eggs, buns and cabbage.
When Chan wanted a change of food, he would pay to have a bowl of instant noodles. And no, he wasn't given special treatment because he was Jackie Chan's son.
China.org.cn reported that Chan ate the same food, slept in the same wooden cell, and went through the same process of passing through the X-ray detector naked before changing into prison clothes, just like all the other inmates.
The most difficult thing for him? Having to sleep with the light on for 24 hours due to security reasons. Having been released from prison recently, he is now afraid of the public's judgement.
Although his dad welcomed him home with a big hug — Chan is currently staying with his mum in Taiwan — he has to wear a mask whenever he goes out because Chan is frightened that strangers will look at him like he's a bad person.
"We (him and Ko) both paid a price for our mistake and we will work hard to get back on our feet again."
When he goes out with Ko, he forces his friend to wear a mask too and tells him:
"If I wear one and you don't, isn't it strange?"