Sunday, July 31, 2011
Starting out as a toothpaste-dripping lang mo, Chrissie Chau has gone from rom-com sidekick to a leading lady in two years. She talks to Edmund Lee ahead of her star turn in Beach Spike (熱浪球愛戰).
It would be an injustice to presume Chrissie Chau is a bad actress purely because of her spectacular figure. After all, few audiences attentively regard her face and take in the subtleties of emotional expression that the model-turned-actress has so diligently exemplified throughout her quietly prolific film career. “Why are you so sexy today?” says Chau when I enquire about her most frequently asked question over the past few years. “Why are you so sexy today?” She deadpans the question again, before laughing out loud. “Perhaps that’s the impression the public’s always had from the start. Every day when I wake up, I remind myself that – while I don’t mind showing my sex appeal – I want to tell my audiences that I’m an actress who can act. [I want] to be a successful actress with representative works.”
If a viewer can accept the notion that a movie’s greatness is measured by the inches of flesh bursting out of bikinis – which I couldn’t – Chau’s latest effort might well propel the 26-year-old to some kind of cinematic hall of fame. This is by no means meant to take anything away from the seriousness of the project, however. For starters, it marks the live-action feature debut of animator Tony Tang, who previously directed the actress in the notorious TV commercial where she ripped open her office outfit to reveal the bikini inside – on the busy streets of Central. A long-time labour of love by producer Charlie Wong, who, according to Chau, “has been dwelling on the idea and thinking about the script for some seven years,” Beach Spike is not just another mindless excuse to get a bunch of young and pretty girls, in bikinis, to play the beautiful game of beach volleyball; rather, it tells the heart-rending story of a bunch of young and pretty girls, in bikinis, who play the beautiful game of beach volleyball in order to change the vicious mind of property developers who’ve decided to turn a remote beach village into some high-end residential and commercial areas.
Such is the complexity of the proceedings that Chau – who stars as the bikini-wearing, volleyball-slamming and kung fu-fighting protagonist – opts to play her character straight and simple. “My character is also called Chrissie in the movie,” says the actress in her fourth starring role after last year’s Womb Ghosts, Vampire Warriors and Marriage with a Liar, “and she’s a girl with a very simple personality.” As it turns out, the three months of volleyball training that Chau had endured in preparation of the movie has proved to be less of a challenge than what she went through with her congested work schedule. Beach Spike was shot by day in exactly the same period as Marriage with a Liar, which was shot by night. The confusion only heightens as Chau shares the same lover in both movies – in young actor Him Law – but their relationships are at two opposite ends of the spectrum: it’s innocent first love in the former movie and all lust, betrayal and infidelity in the latter. “I felt like a schizophrenic patient at the time,” Chau recalls jokingly. “It’s like I was trapped in a time warp.”
Given her rising popularity in the region, the actress is bound to find herself in more work – and narrative confusion – than ever before. While she’s taking a temporary break from her true calling in provocative photo albums (she’s citing a lack of refreshing materials after releasing two albums in as many years), Chau’s film career is displaying every sign that it may be taking flight. After participating in six local movies last year, she has already finished shooting a spooky movie in Beijing this April opposite Taiwanese actor/singer Van Fan (it opens nationwide in October). Another recently wrapped project, the quirky Taiwanese comedy The Killer Who Never Kills, is also scheduled to open by the end of this month. While Chau is due to start filming a Malaysia-set romance opposite veteran actor Gordon Lam Ka-tung this August, she’s set to play the real-life Bauhinia Heroine in an action blockbuster that’ll likely revisit much of Hong Kong’s superhero folklore. “If this movie can turn into a franchise like Tomb Raider, that’ll be great,” she enthuses. “I really want my own Tomb Raider movie.”
Chau is well aware that she has her fair share of detractors – maybe tens of thousands of them out there – but she’s taking the glass-half-full view as we speak. “I don’t want to remember [the unfair criticisms] directed towards me,” she muses at one point when I bring up her eventful path to stardom. “I forget all about them, otherwise it’d be hard for me to march forward. There’re people who support me and there’re people who criticise and dismiss me. I think the proportion of that has gone from 90 percent negative from the early days to 50-50 nowadays, so it’s a huge incentive for me already.” When I remind her that the majority of the public still seems to be taking the superficial perception of her as merely a ‘pretty and sexy’ figure, Chau somehow interrupts me with renewed enthusiasm. “If people’s impression of me can become ‘pretty, sexy and cool’, that’ll be awesome! That’s how Angelina Jolie does it too.”
Source: Time Out Hongkong
Labels: Chrissie Chau 周秀娜