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24 Mar 2005

closer to carl

Fridae's starry-eyed movie critic, Alvin Tan, interviews Hong Kong actor Carl Ng and probes the Eurasian sensation about his role in Colour Blossoms (amongst other things) directed by Yongfan of Bishonen fame.

æ: Hi Carl.
Carl: Hi there... how's it hangin'?

Hong Kong-based half-British, half-Chinese actor Carl Ng
æ: You have been labeled a gwai jai (Cantonese slang for demon or foreign child) by the Hong Kong press because of your striking Eurasian looks. How do you feel about that?
Carl: It's not something new, and I don't think it's because of my striking looks. Because I'm mixed, I have an obviously mixed appearance. Even when I was a kid, I was called gwai jai by my Chinese friends and family. It's quite ironic, the Chinese generally perceive me as a westerner, and westerners generally perceive me as Chinese. When I was living in London, it wasn't uncommon to hear the odd racial comment, but little did they know...

æ: What was it like growing up as the son of veteran comedy actor Richard Ng Yiu-Hon and how has that influenced your decision to become an actor?
Carl: I was never really overwhelmed by my father's profession. As a family, we kept ourselves quite low key. When I was younger, I would visit him on location and see all the other actors like Sammo Hung, Eric Tsang, Jackie Chan and John Shum. Back then, there was a sense of brotherhood and everybody pitched in with ideas. These guys were always working together because they had great chemistry.

Personally, when I was younger I didn't think about being an actor. I saw how hard these guys worked and the sacrifices they made. At the time it didn't seem to be that appealing. That changed when I went to the UK. When I went to university in London to study global corporate strategy, I started going to evening classes at a drama institute. Instead of going clubbing or drinking myself silly, I was on a small stage with Shakespeare, Arthur Miller or occasionally, an Asian author.

When I graduated, I started going full time, working in various restaurants as a chef or waiter until I started getting work in west end and off west end plays. For me, I wanted to learn more about the craft, the different methods. I learnt the most from actually working with fantastic English actors and directors.

As far as my father is concerned, he knows how tough it is, and whilst he supports me, I have always been financially independent, so I can pay my dues and learn for myself. We often have conflicting opinions about projects because we are very different people - but we do respect each other.

æ: As an actor, what would your ideal role be?
Carl: I don't have one. I take them as they come. I do gravitate towards darker roles, roles that other people hesitate to touch. I find them intriguing and an opportunity to try something different. As a person I think that we can all try our hand at being different people throughout our whole lives. I can't imagine thinking the same way about life forever. After all, "the world is a stage and its men and women merely players."

æ: As a hot-blooded young man, what would you be looking for in a partner? (Throws pleading looks at Carl Ng).
Carl: Steady on dear I'm half English! Difficult question. I enjoy the company of people but I am an independent person at heart. I suppose my background of being mixed also comes into play. I suppose someone who is also mixed and quite independent would fit the bill. They would also have to be quite tough. I'm not the easiest of people at times when it comes to expressing myself.
æ: Yes dear! Whatever you say dear! (ahem) In Colour Blossoms, you play a policeman who happens to the object of desire for Theresa Cheung's character (and mine as well). Can you tell us more about your role?
Carl: Originally the director wanted me to play the role of the photographer (played by Japanese male model Sho). But after reading the script several times, I fell in love with the cop 4708. He doesn't have any dialogue and is pretty much separate from everybody else. He was an open character in that there were no written actions for him. It was a great opportunity to do something different with a character. I saw him as a catalyst for the downfall of Theresa's character. Whenever their paths cross, there is an energy that she senses from him. He has a sensuality about him that encourages her to delve into her own desires.

Carl Ng with Japanese male model co-star, Sho, in Colour Blossoms.
æ: I must confess. When I saw you on the big screen wearing your police uniform, I nearly fell prey to a bout of gynonudomania.

(Editor's Note: Gynonudomania is defined as an overwhelming compulsion to rip someone's clothes off.)

Carl: Yeah... but you might be a bit late, two characters in the film also had a bout of gynonudomania, and they both ripped my clothes off...

æ: (Alvin Tan barely suppresses his outrage but manages to ask): Back to the movie, did you have any reservations acting in a Category III film?
Carl: Not really, in fact I don't think the film is that risqu at all - it is suggested and interpreted in the viewers' minds. With regard to what I do in the film, I don't even take off my shirt or pants. You can't really call that risqu. Having said that, I think an actor should take off their clothes if the script requires it. I'm not one for gratuitous sex or violence in films unless it is necessary and propels the story. As far as Colour Blossoms is concerned, I thought it was quite conservative.

æ: So what were some of the more risqu scenes you were involved in during the filming of Colour Blossoms?
Carl: Well I guess the scene where 4708 gets an oral commendation by the photographer was rather... interesting. Then there was the scene where 4708 is cruising the photographer and the Korean sensation turns up... And I think the scene where 4708 follows the lead character up the stairs is quite risqu - we had so much fun shooting that scene! I never new walking up a staircase could be so sexy.

æ: I find it hard to envisage what you're describing. As an aspiring hands-on actor myself, could I interest you in re-enacting some of those scenes with me in the photographer's role - just so I can get a better understanding?
Carl: Hmmm

æ: Moving on from Color Blossoms, what are some of the movies you will be appearing in for the rest of 2005?
Carl: I have worked on some other productions including a suspense drama police film and another Hong Kong Japanese production. They are due to be released soon.

æ: Aside from movies and purely on behalf of Fridae's readers, how did you achieve your sculpted physique?
Carl: Strangely enough when I was a teen, I used to be the big guy in class. When I say big, I mean really rather big - but not muscular. Nowadays, I lead quite an active life and try to get out into the wild more. When in the city, I work out in the gym, boxing mainly, five to six times a week. I enjoy it more then lifting weights because you can work towards a more natural physique, weight lifting tends to target specific muscles.

I'm also a scuba dive master. I spent six months living on a boat in Thailand, diving everyday, lifting tanks and carrying equipment. I love the ocean, so if I have time, I go diving, swimming, sailing or anything that can be done on water.

æ: As a parting note, I would like to tell you that you have replaced Daniel Wu and Edison Chen as my all-time favourite Hong Kong actor.
Carl:... I don't know what to say, I'm flattered... thanks.

æ: On behalf of Fridae and its readers, thank you for your time and all the best for your acting career.
Carl: A pleasure to talk to you, I'm glad you enjoyed the film and thanks for your time.

To read interview (in Chinese) with director Yonfan, please click on the links below.

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