Joining director Johnnie To’s management company, Wallace Chung makes his return to the HK entertainment industry
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
One of Mainland China’s most ‘representative’ award shows – the 26th Annual Chinese Television Golden Eagle Awards + the 9th Annual Golden Eagle Television Arts Festival – took place earlier this month [September]. The ceremony included a newly established award for artists from the Hong Kong/ Taiwan / Macau region to participate in this year -- after the nominees were announced, HK actor Wallace Chung (鍾漢良) was widely viewed as the ‘hot favorite’ to win – in the end, Wallace did not disappoint, as he successfully took home the ‘Audience Favorite Hong Kong / Taiwan / Macau Actor’ award for his acclaimed performance in Mainland series Imminent Danger 《一觸擊發》. After a 19 year absence from the HK entertainment industry, Wallace recently signed with HK director Johnnie To’s (杜琪峯) management company and with his participation in the award-winning director’s latest film Drug War 《毒戰》, he makes his ‘official’ return to HK audience’s screens.
Hearing the name ‘Wallace Chung’, most HK audiences have probably already forgotten who he is – in fact, the younger generation HK audiences most likely don’t know who he is period! Wallace got his start in HK as a dancer and made his acting debut in the 1993 TVB drama series The Chord to Victory 《少年五虎》[TN: the series is a semi-biographical account based on the lives of legendary HK band members The Wynners] in which he portrayed the younger version of singer/actor Kenny Bee (鍾鎮濤). In 1995, Wallace’s singing talent was recognized by singer/songwriter/music producer Samuel Tai (邰正宵), who invited him to Taiwan to pursue a singing career -- his debut album OREA [in 1995] was a huge success in Taiwan and shot him to almost instant popularity. Looking back now, his ‘path to fame’ was very similar to that of HK ‘Heavenly King’ Aaron Kwok (郭富城), except that upon making a name for himself, Wallace decided to remain in Taiwan instead of returning to HK. Later on, he was invited to Mainland China to film TV series and was able to achieve great success as an actor over there – not only does he currently have over 7 million fans ‘following’ his Sina Weibo account, he has also won quite a few awards [acting and music related] throughout his career. After recently winning the ‘Golden Eagle’ Favorite Male Actor Award, Wallace’s status in the Mainland is even more tightly established.
Doesn’t mind starting from the bottom again
Towards his ‘Golden Eagle’ win, Wallace states: “Actually, I was already very happy with being nominated for 3 awards, so winning that award was truly the icing on the cake -- I guess you could say it proved that my hard work all these years paid off. The Golden Eagle awards is an important event in Mainland and is pretty representative – plus this year was the first year that they opened it up for HK, Taiwan, Macau artists to participate, so it’s quite unprecedented. Being the first HK actor to win the award is a huge boost of encouragement for me.”
Recently, after signing with management company Hai-Run Productions (銀河海潤) – of which director Johnnie To (To Sir) is an investor – Wallace will be returning to the HK entertainment industry that he had left 19 years ago. During the first half of the year, he participated in the filming of To Sir’s latest crime drama Drug War , which stars HK actor Louis Koo (古天樂), Mainland actor Sun Hong Lei (孫紅雷), actress Huang Yi (黃奕), etc. Wallace hopes that through the film, he will get the chance to be ‘reacquainted’ with HK audiences: “Deciding to return to the HK market was really a matter of timing. It wasn’t an easy decision to make though, as I was in discussions about it for more than half a year – after all, I’m not a newcomer anymore. I already have a lot of ‘history’ behind me – even though Taiwan and Mainland audiences know me, HK audiences probably already forgot about me and many probably don’t even know me. In the discussions, we came to the consensus that there needed to be more of a balance in terms of my career, which meant bridging the gap within the Greater China region."
Wallace continues: “My feelings towards returning to the HK entertainment world are actually quite peaceful – after all, I’m not the 19 year old kid anymore who would get emotional at the thought of having the opportunity to become a singer in Taiwan. I don’t mind starting all over again from the bottom, as I’m going into it without any particular expectations. If I’m offered an opportunity that people feel I’m suited for and I’m able to do it, as long as there is room for development, I’m willing to give it a try. I didn’t sign with To Sir’s company because I wanted to film movies – there’s definitely no rush to carve out a movie career; in fact, I want to take it slow and be able to enjoy the process. The movie world is very different [from television], as getting a lead actor role doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best position – sometimes, getting a supporting actor role with a lot of opportunity for development could invoke an even bigger response from audiences.”
Over a year ago, Wallace ‘officially’ returned to the music world, recording and releasing a brand new album in Mainland China and holding 3 major concerts in Shanghai as well as Guangzhou: “Actually, throughout the time I was filming in Mainland, I did sing the theme songs for many series, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I officially went back to becoming a singer again. There are already plans to release another album – this time, I’ll probably add a few Cantonese songs to it.”
Zero rumors and scandals
People often tell Wallace that director Johnnie To is a very ‘hot-tempered’ person – however in the 6 months that they’ve worked together, Wallace has a different impression of To Sir.
“A lot of people told me that To Sir has a fiery temper– luckily, I met him during a time when his temper was already softened. In reality, To Sir is not as hot-tempered as he used to be – even if he does get upset occasionally, it’s usually within reason. He’s actually a very generous person – when we were filming in Mainland, To Sir would have his own tent and he would constantly invite us to visit and chat. He’s also a great person to learn from – for instance, hearing him in discussions with the cameramen, you can tell that he is very knowledgeable about how to utilize the camera lens and camera angles to get the best possible effect. If you have the heart for learning, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two from him. Even during meal time and breaks from filming, To Sir would chat with us and give us acting advice – I definitely learned a lot from him!”
For HK artists who work for long periods of time in the Mainland, it’s very easy for them to become involved in relationships and rumors with Mainland artists – however Wallace seems to be the ‘exception, as all these years, he has been able to maintain a ‘zero rumor/ scandal’ track record.
“Actually, I do have relationships and such, it’s just that I don’t talk about them in public -- it’s part of my personality. I don’t keep in touch much with people within the industry and my circle of friends is small and simple – I also rarely talk about my personal life in public settings and try to keep out of the limelight, so of course there won’t be much ‘news’ about me. I’ve never been one to care much about material things, plus I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, so it has helped me learn how to control desire. For HK artists who stay in Mainland for long periods of time due to their careers, it’s not surprising that they would choose a Mainlander as relationship partner. For me, well, I actually come back to HK quite often – every year, I only stay in Mainland to film 2 series.”
Wallace’s personality is still the same as it was 19 years ago – simple and unpretentious. In fact, all the money he earns he still gives to his mother for safekeeping: “I don’t own any properties in Mainland, but in HK, I already bought a house for my family. I give all the money that I make to my mom and she invests it for me – but I don’t know if she will return any of it to me in the future…haha!”
On the topic of marriage, Wallace revealed that his 2 older sisters are still not married and acknowledges that the ‘spinster’ issue is quite severe in society: “Guys are usually not in a rush to get married – I also have not thought about it.” When told that it’s precisely because of this type of ‘no rush’ thinking that contributes to the severity of the ‘spinster’ issue, Wallace half-jokingly replied: “Even if I do get married, it’s only going to help 1 person – the ratio is too small so it’s not going to change the trend in society anyway!”
Source: Mingpao Weekly, Issue 2290
Translated by: llwy12 @ AsianFanatics
Labels: Other Entertainment News