The M Interview - Andy Lau: "Brother Fat is my idol"
Andy Lau stars in the casino-centred, action-packed dramedy From Vegas To Macau III with Jacky Cheung and Nick Cheung. Here, the Best Actor nominee for the upcoming 35th Hong Kong Film Awards sounds off on who should win and how his gambling skills rank against his co-stars' off-screen
He plays a gambler in From Vegas To Macau III (opening here Feb 5), but in reality, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau says he is only a master at looking good when flipping tiles and cards for show.
"I don't gamble at all," the 54-year-old actor and singer told the media at the movie's gala premiere held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
"I only know how to play mahjong, because if I give my dad money, he's not so happy, but when I lose to him playing mahjong, he's happy.
"I have no interest in gambling," said Lau. "If you win a few million, you probably may not have any emotion, but losing just a few thousand dollars, you would be, like, 'Wah! How did this happen?'
"I'm great when it comes to the actions and gestures in gambling, but if it's real gambling, I'm not good.
Above) Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat with Hong Kong actress-singer Carina Lau.
"I don't detest it, but I think one shouldn't gamble too much."
In the sequel to the hit film series, Lau's character Michael Chan, who goes by the alias "Little Knife", is a gambler who tries to protect his friend Ken, the God of Gamblers (Chow Yun Fat), from assassination.
Little Knife first appeared in the 1989 classic God Of Gamblers, which also starred Lau in the role alongside Chow, who played the original God of Gamblers, Ko Chun.
Lau said he would have loved to be reunited with veteran actor Chow, 60, on screen as casino buddies earlier, but their busy schedules did not permit a reunion till now.
BIG NAMES: Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung and Chinese actress-singer Li Yuchun in From Vegas To Macau III.
He praised Chow for his positive outlook on life - "Nothing can faze him" - and his fitness.
"He is looking better and better," said Lau, who looked sharp himself in rolled up jeans and a black blazer. "Now he should fatten up. He's making the rest of us look bad."
Aside from age, not much has changed between the pair and their characters, he added.
TRUTH AND FICTION
"Both the God of Gamblers and Little Knife have grown older, but what didn't change was that Little Knife still idolises the God of Gamblers, and in real life, brother Fat (Chow) is also my idol, so there's actually no difference there."
As for who should win Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which will take place on April 3, Lau, who last won the award in 2012 for A Simple Life, said he does not dwell on such things.
This year, he has been nominated for Lost And Love and has watched all his fellow nominees' - Nick Cheung (Keeper Of Darkness), Tony Leung Ka Fai (The Taking Of Tiger Mountain), Jacky Cheung (Heaven In The Dark) and Aaron Kwok (Port Of Call) - performances, saying he thought they were all good.
"I do not bother about awards, do you think I would want to get rid of them (the other nominees)?" he said jokingly.
He's too good as a bad guy
Being the bad guy isn't new to Jacky Cheung.
But the 54-year-old Hong Kong singer and actor actually does not fancy playing villains on the big screen and he tried to turn down the role of main antagonist J.C. in From Vegas To Macau III when he was first approached.
On his mysterious tycoon character who is pitted against Chow Yun Fat's God of Gamblers in the sequel, he told The New Paper in a separate interview: "I've played a few bad guys and this one was a little too soon after the last one (Helios in 2015), so... I said if they could find other people, that would be good.
"I was also busy planning my concerts...
"But in the end, I took the role, not that I particularly like playing bad guys, but this is a little different. It's a comedy, so maybe bad guys don't come off as that villainous."
Off-screen, Cheung is all warm smiles throughout the interview and has a guy-next-door aura.
When asked what is From Vegas To Macau III's biggest pull, he looked over to the promotional poster and said: "Well, it stars Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau, Nick Cheung..."
He left out his own name, which is probably one of the biggest in Asian entertainment.
He has, however, clocked the least amount of time on the silver screen compared to the other three Heavenly Kings of Cantopop - Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai.
In terms of acting accolades, Cheung also noted that his "history" is one of being nominated but never winning.
But that may change this year at the Hong Kong Film Awards in April, if his co-stars had their way.
"I'm tipping Jacky to win the best actor award," said leading man Chow Yun Fat at a separate press conference, a prediction that was greeted with nods from Lau and Nick Cheung.
Cheung, however, downplayed his chances.
"No one has even watched my show," he said with a laugh, referring to Heaven In The Dark, which earned him his nomination.
"I myself am wondering how I got nominated."
On his real-life gambling skills, Cheung said he picked up games quickly even when he was a child, but said he has no winning luck.
"I've seen my dad with no success after so many years... and I have relatives who have lost badly before," he said.
"Even if my concert is held in a casino, I would not even dare enter the gambling grounds."
Even if my concert is held in a casino, I would not even dare enter the gambling grounds.
- Hong Kong actor Jacky Cheung on his luck
He's now acting with his teachers
He is part of an all-star cast featuring veteran actor Chow Yun Fat and two of the four Heavenly Kings - Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung.
Rather than feeling overshadowed, Nick Cheung, who at 48 is the youngest among the male stars, is grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.
"When Andy and brother Fat were filming God Of Gamblers, I hadn't started acting yet," said the Hong Kong actor and director.
"People come into entertainment for different reasons with different attitudes. If you chance upon people like Andy, Jacky, brother Fat, then you'd be able to learn from them and draw inspirations from them.
"I've been following their footsteps for many years. You rarely see things go awry for them, as long as you stay on solid ground and stay focused."
Cheung, who plays a former employee of a professional money laundering organisation in From Vegas To Macau III, said he detests gambling in real life and tries to practise the working lifestyles of the "older generation" like his co-stars.
"Stay away from rumours, avoid staying out late, be focused on (your) craft," said Cheung.
He has certainly been rewarded for keeping to that.
Cheung has won many Best Actor accolades, including the Golden Horse Award and the Hong Kong Film Award for his roles in Beast Stalker (2008) and Unbeatable (2013).
He recently received a Best Actor nomination at the latter awards for his role in Keeper Of Darkness.
Cheung, who will be departing on the fourth day of Chinese New Year to film a movie in Brazil, is philosophical about his chances and the rivalry between his co-stars and fellow nominees Lau and Jacky Cheung.
"The winner will feel happy, of course, but the ones who don't (win) won't necessarily feel very disappointed. There's nothing for us to do at this point... We're not all going up on stage MMA-style to fight it out."