|Posted by Kim on February 22, 2008 at 9:54 AM|
22 Feb 2008 - TV Series #174: Cinderella Queen
Source: TV Series #174
Michelle in a Nutshell ~ You wouldn't want to miss!
Her Idea of Art:
...at times the ending needs not necessarily be crystal clear, the ability to bait on audience’ imagination deep enough should be the most successful point of a film.
...when you are armored with knowledge and experience, there is nothing to be afraid of, you will realize that every effort put in has its rewarding value.
...it’s because I’m not smart enough that I need to listen to others’ opinions.
...it wasn’t me who changed my fate, but it is me who stay strong and is determined to face anything the fate has in hand for me.
Her Devotion (standing up for TVB):
There are no employers who don’t wish their employees to listen to them and work as they instruct.
On Raymond Lam:
We know what to act by just looking at the other’s eyes, it is after all easy to act with yourself, if a duck were to act with a hen, then it would have taken some time.
If I want to accept more quantity and more inspirational challenges, I must move towards the movie sector, and to accept more series from Mainland producers, to attempt on productions of different cultures.
Their Recognition, Her Appreciation:
I’m embarrassed to repeat what they’ve spoken of me, but Alan Mak, and the rest are very supportive of me, they give me support beyond my potential, I sincerely thank them for that.
On Her Manager:
It is that kind of trust, that I tell him everything, even those that I shouldn’t tell him (laughs). He not only stands in the shoes of the company to consider all the companies point of view, but also stand as a friend to give me some opinions and help... Even if I do have my own stand already, I still wish to listen to his opinion.
Isn’t it foolish to punish yourself with others’ mistake?
It is not I who have changed, but the views of others towards me which have changed.
Outdoing is challenging others, excelling is challenging oneself, and I choose to excel, not to outdo.
...since you’ve made a choice, you’ve to love your choice made.
Down this lengthy path of life, I shall seek forth and around.
...when people ask me what I’d like to act, I say the human version of Sin Chan, but no one has ever reported this before, really, I’ve mentioned it before! ...just let me talk like he does (laughs), mischievously, very straight forwardly, and yet no one will ever blame me.
Middle words in red:
Even before meeting Michelle, I've already thought of that weird title (Cinderella Queen) for this interview, and was determined that Michelle is such a person. (Blur / missing words in scans) She is the queen - strong, independent, wise, elegant and mature. She is the Cinderella too – beautiful, compassionate, charismatic, courteous, as well as childlike.
From 7 o'clock (at night), photo shooting, interviewing with crowds bustling past, it was quite a chaotic yet joyful environment. After sending off a bubbly yet chatty Michelle and her very, extremely pale-looking and sleepy manager due to my delay, I took a look at my wristwatch, it was already 2:28am, the weird thing was, I was still just as refreshed! I know… this is because of Michelle Ye…
The props for the shooting that day were all soft toys prepared by our junior producer However, other crews of 'TV Series' and all those around Michelle Ye snorted at our treasures, and even 'abused' them. When I pressed one of the soft toys into Michelle's hands, she squealed in delight, thus I was pleased and immediately straightened up – see, we have found someone of the same wavelength! Michelle, you are the one who gave these beloved treasures the chance and the courage to be on camera! I hereby convey my utmost appreciation to you on their behalf!
Knowing Michelle's nickname as 'Hai Ma Xuan' (meaning: Seahorse Xuan), the first (treasure) I sent to her hand is actually a 'miniature of a seahorse dinosaur'! Michelle who was half way through her making up was so elated she couldn't put her lips together, she was head over heels in love with it, although, frankly, the seahorse was a little oddly shaped… She kept saying we share the same passion, as we both love rounded mouth and face stuff!
Following on, I surrendered the entire collection of soft toys to her… her response is obvious.
As for our request for her to imitate Sin Chan, Michelle was a little reserved initially, but it was only a while later when that 'Sin Chan butt face' kept becoming her frequent expression. Besides having to constantly observe and be aware of when she might transform into 'Sin Chan', we too were forced to be mentally prepared that she might transform into a frog anytime, otherwise we would be laughing our heads off. She likes Sin Chan because Sin Chan dares to speak all his thoughts, and he speaks of all the truth, just like a kid, the heart of a child is very loveable. Sin Chan brings adults the most missed and desired truth in everything. Thus even reading this comic has such phenomenal significance. The Michelle sitting in middle of the bunch of toys reading fairytales looks very refined, she gives others the feeling of warmth yet serene, that is how her 'Most Classic Beauty' aura arises. She can fool around with her various transformations, yet she too can be silently elegant.
Michelle claims her memory to be bad, and that she is very outdated. First: Felix Lok who is also a cast of her new film, but she in fact thought this is their first collaboration! Only when her manager reminded her that she did gradually recall… 'Triumph in the Skies'… Japan… pilot… father… Secondly: She never knew the Eason Chan she worked with for her new movie had sang the theme song for 'Triumph in the Skies', that was nothing compared to when she heard 'fu shi shan xia' 《富士山下》(a famous Eason Chan song), and earnestly recommended to Eason: "I think that this type of song will be popular in mainland, you should sing the national language (pu tong hua) version…" 《呼叫转移》(Eason's the pu tong hua version song) was in fact already a long time KTV popular song! The last of the lasts, Michelle discovered another common fact she never knew, that Eason Chan is actually a very popular and established singer!
Because Michelle is quite absentminded, thus I gave her extra reminders to not forget to collect all her belongings before leaving, so she checked around thoroughly once, and confidently guaranteed me that nothing will be left behind this time. However, when sending them into their vehicle, I spotted the bottle of Michelle's contact lenses solution lying forlornly in the wash room… She should have left something more useful to me, I don't even use contact lenses….
Speaking out of the topic, this is my first time meeting such a 'Sin Chan' fanatic celebrity, thus I think that any investors who are interested to film the China version of Sin Chan should give TV Series a call, we'll discuss about the contract…
Central Affairs: From Fa dan to The One
KEY: TS = TV Series, MY = Michelle Ye
TS: You've ever written an article, saying the role 'Season' has some astounding similarities with you? Where do the similarities lie exactly?
MY: Yes, I've ever mentioned it, but it was most probably recorded (written) into an article by someone else. For example, Season's ignorance, her blur state of when she entered the working society, until when she realized the society differs from what she had imagined, (the society is) very complicated. The process is quite similar (to her own), even some of the funny scenes were similar, but I've never experienced such exaggerated plots of the series, not the life and death, not the suicidal scenes. Basically, it's just the experience of the process of how a girl enters the working society where there is similarity.
TS: Whose acting in that series left you the deepest impression?
MY: Definitely the one who can act two roles of the opposing extreme; it's of course Patrick Tse. You
see him as a wealthy man in the first one, but in the sequel he plays a hooligan. He can let go of his image and does not insist on acting 'good-looking' characters, thus he was willing to take off his shades in the last part! (We seldom see elderly Patrick who hasn't his shade on) Yea, did you watch the scene he was on wheelchair, what do you think about it? Who else can be such a natural? On the other hand, I think Raymond Wong is quite good too.
TS: Like most audience who've watched this series, we felt the most touching scene was the ending, where Season was by Johnny's sickbed, watching his severe wounds and disability to talk. Johnny's confession as well as Season's painful wails caused countless of audience to ache with them. Can you still remember how it was when you filmed this scene?
MY: Right, yes, that scene was a last minute addition of Raymond and I, and of course the director, we planned it ourselves, the original script didn't have that part. Originally (in the script) it's supposed to be his wife, which is my step sister, who's supposed to be by his bedside, yes, that wealthy girl. But at that time, I felt that this relationship was quite deep, and it needs to be ended with some moral values! We can't leave it hanging, unconcluded, it's not necessarily that the bad people should just die insignificantly, there should be much stronger love within. But if we go into every detail, it would be too fake, too ordinary, there should be some space for deeper imagination, thus we briefly concluded the story between him and I, the love we shared to be a mere business advantage relationship.
Actually, it is a very foolish idea for a woman to revenge her most loved one, it is a very suffering matter in love. You love him so much yet you scheme on how to get back on him every moment, it just doesn't make sense. (When crying, what emotion state were you in?) Hmmm, the dialogue while crying was made up by myself, because I was already immersed in that character. That scene didn't have any rehearsal, right from when we had this idea (to add this scene), we did a one time 'trial' where the director had the video cameras on, with three cameras focusing on me, and I just began. I merely spoke out the most truthful words of that character, because I was actually that character at that moment.
TS: Were there a lot of edited or added portion in the series which varied from the original script? How did you guys just came up with a scene to add at the last minute? Do you like this method?
MY: Director, Raymond and I felt that we should have such a conclusion, otherwise it would be too superficial. Everything will always be much more interesting where love is involved, right? Including the origami swan in the middle part, do you remember? (Oh, yes, that was another fantastic scene!) Yes, the scene where he proposed to me with those origami swans was in the script, but the scene later was not there, I added it so that I used that origami swan to return to his side, to earn his trust that I really loved him. Without such a prop, on the plot, how can a sly character like him easily believe that I really loved him? Director agreed and we made used of the origami swans again, so it now became more logical!
Raymond said too that 'he' would not have been so stupid! He is smart enough to swindle the entire corporation, there was no way he would let such a hated figure back to his side so easily, it would definitely be too fake! Doing so allows us to take it to a whole new level (laughs). I also suggested that he write something for Season on the origami swan, so audience would be more convinced that we are in a relationship, this way, audience would be wondering the truth, if we filmed too expectedly, everyone would've guessed the ending already! Taking a balance with that, with the exchange of true love but fake intentions, it is only this way that we can appeal to audience, it will be much more alluring then. Director thus let Raymond wrote a phrase on the origami swan, it was: "You're the woman I love most." I was very touched in the series, and lots of audiences have asked me if I really did love him or if I faked my love.
(That's true, I still want to clarify this point.) This is good, because if you can tell its fake right away, then what else would there be for the audience to anticipate on? To me personally, there definitely is true love involved. Most of the time, we leave some space for imaginations to the audience. There just can't be clear cut classification of the good and evil roles. Nowadays, series too have lots of 'Infernal Affairs' theme, you can't make out the good and bad clearly.
(Did any of the alterations cause the original plot to change?) Yes, there is, definitely. Gilbert Lam's character was supposed to have ended up with that other female lawyer. But Gilbert felt that it wasn't too acceptable since his relationship seemed to have developed quite strongly with me, also the role was not too bright nor the flirty type. He told the director of this problem, and director agreed too and allowed him to not be with that lawyer. There was a scene where I saw them with rings and I was devastated, and wanted to jump off the building. Then the director changed it to a misunderstanding – he was merely attending the banquet. That way, his role wouldn't be too lousy. What do you think, when if everyone thought he's such an undeserving man yet I still loved him so much, I would be even more foolish.
(Then I must represent the audience to ask, who do you actually love in the end?) Actually, at times the ending needs not necessarily be crystal clear, the ability to bait on audience' imagination deep enough should be the most successful point of a film (laughs). I think that this is the artistic approach of filming.
TS: What is the deepest impression this series has given you?
MY: The deepest impression must be the viewing points which excelled over TVB airing series of the same time slot, their competing series was 'Always Ready' and also another series which was aired at that period of time too, which was my last series in TVB, 'The Herbalist Manual'. That was actually my graduation result just before I left TVB, my relationship with TVB caused them to be happy for me too, they also hope their 'disciple' be an honor to them, right? I appreciate TVB for that, it becomes a positive motivation for one another. 'The Herbalist Manual' was first for viewing rates, the same for 'Central Affairs' too, both series begin airing on the same day and ended on the same day too, where the first was taking the 8pm slot while the latter was the 9pm slot. Some audience says, since we've watched Michelle at 8pm, there's no need to watch the 9pm Michelle anymore, so they watch others. That is one way of thinking, while others say watching Michelle at 8pm seems quite nice, so they stay on to watch the 9pm Michelle on ATV. I think this is a positive coincident, not some intentional plans to promote or to attack me.
TS: If it was you personally, which man would you love?
MY: Season loved them all in the series, but at different time. Gilbert's character may be a little fickle minded, but he probably lets others feel some warmth, it is that simple and long lasting kind of relationship. Then again, Raymond's role is romantic and very passionate, it leaves a deeper impact. (I still don't really like Gilbert) In that case I'll just say that I like Raymond, you'll be happier then (laughs)!
TS: CA is a series you filmed not too long after you left TVB, did you feel unaccustomed to anything when filming it?
MY: Yes, yes, definitely, for example where our good ideas are accepted here. In TVB, it is a very organized procedure, everyone must achieve their own standards. Because it is a big producing company, when every element achieves its standard, everyone only needs to do their part accordingly, it will then be good enough, no need for improvements, because it is no longer necessary, because small alterations will then snowball into a big effect! Whereas in ATV it is generally in more minor productions, but everyone gets to put their effort in as they allow such major alterations, because it is not such major production, such alterations won't cause big effects, thus it gives more space for creativity.
In TVB you will definitely guarantee the quality, in ATV the freedom is granted to the director and the casts, good alterations would result superb productions, but what is there to do if you made bad alterations (laughs)? Luckily for us, we did good ones, didn't you say some scenes became more interesting then? This shows that the director's decision was successful. Back when I was in TVB, I did meet some scriptwriter who kept making alterations too, but there are some bad alterations as well (laughs), ah, the acting ones (actors) are the ones sufferings! It got worse with more alterations. (Did the director allowed actors to alter as well?) Yes, because in TVB actors are the focus, not director, while the producer seldom comes to the set, thus the actors become the superior ones (at the set). This is when you really depend on the actor's efforts, if the actors do well then it'll be good, otherwise everything will be a failure. Well, there are pros and cons, both approaches are interesting, both are good experience and training.
The bits and pieces of TVB stuff for the past 6 years
TS: Following on the alteration of script, was it the same situation for the ending of 'Lofty Waters, Verdant Bow' series which starred you and Raymond Lam?
MY: Yes, yes, that's right, for that case, the director helped us changed it. Actually, the way we acted it was how the original author plotted it (laughs). Do you know how our script was actually like? When the director read the script, he was like: "No way, it can't be so!"
The original script wrote that both of us got married, and it was a forced marriage, he wasn't willing at all, there wasn't any magnificent feel of love written. As I was the only cast who has read the original novel (laughs), so I know how it should actually be like. The original script was like: Seng Nam said to Sai Wai: "Hey, we're going to get married, why aren't you moving?" And then the guests of our wedding said: "Why aren't the two of you smiling, come on, smile!" After entering the new wedding room, the biggest villain – yes that assassin boss of mine came, whereas in the series I actually killed him, and that assassination process was a flashback of my memory. But in the original script, when he (the villain) came, he started attacking, and the three of us (villain and RM) all died together, that was the ending (laughs).
Besides having read the original novel, I've also actually met the original author Liang Yu Sheng, and asked for his advice. He told me, acting Lai Seng Nam only needs the grasp of two words (in Chinese its two words) – perseverance. Seng Nam appears very cold-blooded and impious, yet the most important thing in her heart is her perseverance towards her love, she is so perseverant, she loves Sai Wai so deeply that she is willing to die for him, her love for him came from her perseverance. Thus, I acted Seng Nam with the two words.
There was once when I had a talk with the director where the issue that Seng Nam actually wears a white wedding gown for her wedding in the original novel was brought up by chance. At that time, Deric Wan gave me a good suggestion too, he said since the original author had the wedding gown to be white, and I was fatally poisoned, the wedding is just a wish, when my blood drips onto my gown, a drop after another, it will look like the plum blossom budding, how beautiful that is! When I heard of it, I thought, that's right and I told the director of it, the producer immediately tailored a white wedding gown, the effect was great. And then my assassination of the villains were all part of my memory flashback, while the scene where Sai Wai recalls of the very first time we met was added by the director, it was to allow Sai Wai to finally realize that the person he truly loved was Seng Nam, yet he never appreciated her one bit despite her being by his side all the while, since he thought he has always loved Guk Zi Wah! She (Zi Wah) was the true goddess of his heart (he thought), he felt that he should love such a girl. But the person who was always with him was Seng Nam, they were both always squabbling like kids, yet comfortably compatible and has much chemistry.
Actually, human usually don't know what we really want for life or for love, it is not until the moment you've lost it that you'll be shaken awake, but it will already be too late. This issue is also what the original author wanted to bring up, why this production is such a classic, it's because the spirit is kept intact, had we eliminated that spirit, and everyone dies together after a chaotic attack, I bet the feel would be gone entirely (laughs). (Yes, 'Perish in The Name of Love' had major alterations too which became unacceptable for audience.)
Right, including 'Lost in the Chambers of Love' too (laughs), it was simply edited, the love relationship inside were all changed, so we as actors are helpless too. But since this (LWVB) is just the ending, a little edit can preserve the overall mood, so why not? (Then, in the last scene on the bamboo raft where Sai Wai said 'Sorry' in place of 'I love you', who thought of this?) Right, that was the director's idea. This director is Lau Seun On, he is very passionate, and very compatible with us, he was also the one who filmed 'Eternal Happiness' for us, a very brilliant director, lots of TVB's superb productions are his work, including the old time, yet forever popular 'A Step into the Past' too. Among so many Hong Kong directors, he is a rare one who is passionate for ancient films. Other classic productions such as 'Square Pegs', 'Life Made Simple' and etc, are all his work. I really appreciate director for giving 'Lofty Waters Verdant Bow' such a classic ending, it engraves deeply and touches the hearts of all audience.
The scene on the bamboo raft was all thought up by the director, not as how the original author wrote. Director transformed it into a very romantic atmosphere; he let Sai Wai bring along the already dead Seng Nam back to the island where he used to live. Saying 'Sorry' was more appropriate than saying 'I love you'. If Sai Wai were to say 'I love you' at this point of time, it would only sound superficial, because it is already too late, everyone will 'boo' him (laughs) to only say 'love' when the girl is already dead. Then, saying 'Sorry' is a kind of apology, asking for Seng Nam's forgiveness for not realizing his true love in time. (The director has a big effort here, but luckily you did read the original novel too,)
Whenever I film any ancient series, I will usually read the original novel first. Including 'Eternal Happiness', it was two volumes of thick novel, all in poem-like verses of 7 characters, I read it all. I feel that however much Hong Kong scripts edit, but once you read it (original novel), you can easily absorb into it, getting familiarized with the character earlier, and then you needn't act much later, because you've already become that person. (Then will you be unable to adapt to what the script has edited?) It does happen sometimes. When filming 'Lofty Waters Verdant Bow', I did feel very pressured, because the producer initially opposed as to how we acted, but the director and Ah Fung (Raymond Lam) supported it, thus the three of us put our best efforts in it. At the very least, our relationship has convinced everyone. And when the viewing rate was high then, only did the producer said: "Ah, you guys were right (laughs)." The producer's theory may give some pressure at times, you will feel very challenged, but everything will turn out fine at one point of time (laughs). Good feedbacks from audience are our biggest harvest.
TS: There were a lot of audience who were reluctant when you left TVB, they also worry that you couldn't progress better after stepping out, what do you think?
MY: I think the responses from audience were 50:50. As for if actors could progress better when leaving TVB it really depends on his personal skills and efforts. TVB is a very good school, but it is not the only stage (for filming). I feel that every Hong Kong celebrity can only build up further on the basics they get after they've undergone some TVB's training, otherwise it would be very, very difficult.
(You must have deeply considered about leaving TVB at that time?) Yes, I am very lucky to meet Media Asia, they've already started to gradually approach me a year before, giving me lots of confidence. Actually the decision was made in a very short time, because it was the opportunity which came to me, it is them who pick me, thus I don't exactly have any further options to choose from. If there were two similar companies coming to me, I might have to consider longer, but Media Asia came for me, granting me a career path to a whole new level all of the sudden, because most actors do wish to jump from small screens to big screens. In addition to their other benefits, I too wish to have more creativity; I hope to have more variety of attempts. 'Central Affairs' is a very good example, had I stayed in TVB, I most probably would have to wait another 5 or 8 years before I come of age to act such a dominant role. An actress of my age will usually still be playing someone's, someone's sister, most actress will probably gain significantly dominant role only when they come to a certain age. TVB has given me a lot of strength, it has taught me much, and when you are armored with knowledge and experience, there is nothing to be afraid of, you will realize that every effort put in has its rewarding value.
TS: When making such critical decision, do you try not to heed others' opinions, only believing in your own analysis and decision making, and doing whatever you think is right straight away?
MY: No, I'm not so! Actually I do care a lot about the opinions of people around me, I ask them a lot, be it critical or trivial issues (laughs). Although I do have my own stands, but I appreciate inputs of opinions from others, I will definitely listen to opinions of most of the people around me, because no one individual can clearly envision a matter entirely all on his own.
However, I may differ from others when making a decision, I'm probably much more decisive or how do I say it…its because I collect a lot of opinions, such as help from senior like Patrick Tse, Carina Lau too gave me a very important piece of advice, she told me to sign contract with Media Asia, and progress my career there. She thinks that it was the right time for me to leave, also many other seniors who has given me valuable views when I'm met with such an issue, that is probably why when I make decision, it may differ from people of my generation, not taking the same route. But it is because I've gotten so much advice from seniors, they are definitely more experienced and far sighted than people of our generation, though it may be debatable at that moment. (This proves that you are a smart person.) No, it's because I'm not smart enough that I need to listen to others' opinions (laughs)!
(Then are there times when you insist on your own beliefs?) Yes, for example my opinion on the change of that ending, time will prove everything; you need to go for long-term ending. Actually, I think I insist on what fate has arranged for me, when I signed there (Media Asia), it was them who came to me, it wasn't me who changed my fate, but it is me who stay strong and is determined to face anything the fate has in hand for me.
TS: You were in TVB for 6 years, what has it given to you?
MY: Besides the acting skills, it has definitely taught me lots more stuff – taught me how to deal with the society, teaching me the best and the supposed-to-be attitude in this entertainment industry. Because that (TVB) is a very big organization, you will discover the highest quality level and the most excellent TV production methods. In Hong Kong, the best actors are either in TVB or debut from TVB, the best producers, the best resources, they have assembled the cream of the crop. The actors are also excellent, they can act right away, and cry anytime at the set (laughs). When I was filming movies, director said: "Hey, you helped me saved quite some film." TVB has taught me a lot, not only the basics.
(Then do you feel you lose out a little when you leave TVB?) No, not a bit. Are you talking about
friendships, those meant to meet, we do still meet up frequently. At the same time, the terms that my company gives me is very worthwhile, there is no need to be doubtful about. They have given me the opportunities to work with internationally renowned directors which I've never even dreamt of in the past, also the chance to act with movie king such as Francis Ng, also movie queen such as Sammi Cheng, Eason Chan and so on. These are definitely opportunities we will never get in TVB. (Unless if they guest star) Right, but I would have never realized even if they did (laughs)! Eason said he has ever guest starred for 'Triumph in the Skies', he arrived at the airport with a crowd of fans around him. He said in reality no one waits for him in airport, just kidding (laughs)!
TS: There are some negative news on TVB recently, such as some unwritten policies are becoming stricter. Did you have such feeling?
MY: No, I feel that when you work for a certain company, you will certainly have your black and white contract, whatever terms you offer me, I perform accordingly, it is something long agreed upon, what is there to whine about? It is something expected of you. There are no employers who don't wish their employees to listen to them and work as they instruct. Whatever would have happen had everyone do everything to their own liking? This is discipline, you must do it, it is not negative, I feel that it is right, if you don't do accordingly then it is you who are at fault.
TS: In TVB, which senior or someone of the same generation gave you tips or help, and is the one you are most grateful for?
MY: There is, it would be producer Poon Ka Dak. My second series since I entered the industry 'Street Fighters', and 'Eternal Happiness' were opportunities he gave me. Also 'Triumph in the Skies'. Even now, we do still meet up and chat frequently. He has taught me a lot on acting and production, he too has sacrificed a lot for work, he lives in an artistic world.
(Actors?) Raymond Lam. The one I've most chemistry with when acting in TVB should be him, and now I do have many new excellent partners too, for example Eason Chan. However, Raymond and I are too alike, in most aspect, thus we are very compatible when we act together. We know what to act by just looking at the other's eyes, it is after all easy to act with yourself, if a duck were to act with a hen, then it would have taken some time (laughs). We worked together when we were just newbies, we act out ourselves, and were lucky enough to get such classic scripts and roles, this experience is irreplaceable, be it for his acting career or mine. (Do you still keep in touch with Raymond?) Sometimes, through phone, just a few days ago, we exchanged New Year texts. (Is it harder to meet up?) Because we are both too busy, actually lots of people are looking for us to collaborate, there's once recently, but we can never fit our schedule, maybe we need to wait another 16 years (laughs). I think there should be chance, especially him, he's very talented, his career span will be very long.
TS: You've ever mentioned that your favorite character is the Mang Lai Kuan in 'Eternal Happiness', is there any change in that?
MY: 'Central Affairs', I quite like this one for now. But the two roles do not have any conflict of interest in my heart because they are the respective representative of my work at different time. They're two figurative icons of my career.
TS: A lot of TVB artists return after some time, do you have such consideration?
MY: Not at the meantime (laughs), but no one knows the future for sure. I'm too busy now to think of these. (Most who hopes for you to return are those wish to watch you collaborate with Raymond Lam again.) Then why must it be me who go back, he too can come out to collaborate with me! Although he signs a managing contract with TVB, he still can come out to film movies (laughs).
Concerning big screens and mainland career progression
TS: Are you focusing on series in Mainland for now?
MY: Yes, because I've been filming Hong Kong series for the last few years, too many in fact, like the 'Central Affairs' which I film one after another, they even came to me to continue the third one recently. Actually, the third one is currently being filmed, but I didn't accept it. I don't wish to keep repeating myself, and don't wish to repeat it in such a hurried situation, especially when there is no assurance of quality, it doesn't seem too momentous. If I want to accept more quantity and more inspirational challenges, I must move towards the movie sector, and to accept more series from Mainland producers, to attempt on productions of different cultures.
TS: You made a lot of Mainland friends when you filmed for 'World's Finest' right?
MY: Yes, that's right, like Li Ya Peng, Tammy Chen, and Wallace Huo, we are really good friends. It is quite weird, when I come to Beijing, all the people I met are from 'World's Finest' casts like Li Ya Peng and the rest, and also Wallace, I live quite near to his place in Beijing, so I called him up. Whereas Tammy is currently living at my house in Hong Kong, our relationship is exceptionally good. So I gave her my house key, she usually stays in my house 2 to 3 times a year.
TS: In 'Jiao Yi Sheng Ma Ma' you acted the elder sister role which is very 'Cinderella'-like, not only taking the murder blame on behalf of your younger sister, but also let her take away your beloved boyfriend. This role seems to be very weak and introverted.
MY: Yes, well there are some good in being weak too; they (weak roles) usually win sympathies. I have just finished filming 'Central Affairs 2' when I filmed this series, but in CA2, I was the strong character, so JYSMM allowed me to play the opposite. Actually I got quite some sympathies too when I acted the strong roles, so I thought of giving the weak character a try, to see if it also wins sympathies. I feel that it (winning sympathies) doesn't really depend on whether the role is weak or strong.
(This should be your first suffering role?) Not really, my first series 'Gods of Honor' is a very kind but suffering role too, Lian Hua. The very first scene required me to hug onto Na Zha's coffin and cry, I didn't even know how to cry back then! (Does it feel different from now?) Yes, I had to think half a day on how to cry, I even asked Benny how to cry. But now I cry like nobody's business once I reach the set. When I filmed 'Cha Ji Neui' before this, director Alan Mak and the audio supervisor made a bet, they betted on 100 HKD, to see if I could cry properly. I was still fooling around with everyone else during the break, then the director counted down to the filming moment "50 seconds…. 40 seconds…" to see if I can cry right away when the moment comes, ho, I'm already an old-timer now (laughs). (Did the director call you that?) No, not that, this is my own description, I'm embarrassed to repeat what they've spoken of me, but Alan Mak, and the rest are very supportive of me, they give me support beyond my potential, I sincerely thank them for that.
TS: Are you satisfied of your performance when you just entered this big screen industry?
MY: I think its okay. I am solidly and steadily walking down my path, and have also been given really rare opportunities, continuing my efforts with such bit of luck. This is connected to my manager Ah Zhi (looks toward her manager who is playing game at a corner). Don't be deceived at how seldom he speaks, he is my support from behind (laughs). He understands me thoroughly, understands what kind of roles I need, and understand what kind of career terms I require. Do you know that he was with Maggie Cheung for ten years, and some other big shot celebrities like Jackie Cheung, Jackie Chan, Edison Chen… It is that kind of trust, that I tell him everything, even those that I shouldn't tell him (laughs). He not only stands in the shoes of the company to consider all the companies point of view, but also stand as a friend to give me some opinions and help. This kind of trust is a two-way relationship. I ask for people's opinion even for the most trivial matter (laughs), needless to say important matters such as acting and such. Even if I do have my own stand already, I still wish to listen to his opinion. Come for me to film the human-version of Sin Chan now! (Michelle was most probably fooling around as Sin Chan again in between the interview)
TS: Although this is my first time meeting you face to face, and it is only a mere few hours time, but you give me an entirely different feeling of what those reports say! Although what I get is also one sided from you, but it definitely clarifies some questions. After entering the entertainment industry, you will definitely experience some untrue reports, how do you usually deal with it?
MY: (Even as I began asking this question, Michelle has already begun laughing at one side.) Ha, ha, let me give you an example, let's take Ron Ng! When you first met him, you said he was 'wooden' (expressionless), but I told you he was actually the most un-wooden one, he is actually the most adorable one! Then in the second report, you say he gives you a different feeling. Actually, all these happen for few reasons.
Hong Kong media has a 'hobby', they like to create two extremely conflicting issues, doing so, causes conflicts in discussion. With one saying he is snobby, and another claiming he is not, people will begin to pay attention to it. If I say 1, and another agrees with me that it is 1, then this issue has no discussion value, and dies away. But when you are 1 yet is framed to be 2, and people around will defend you to be 1, this will cause conflicts for both parties. This is an approach to make up stories.
There will be some true reports too, but mostly aren't, Hong Kong gossip media are the wealthiest. Of course, it s impossible for them to know entirely about a certain celebrity, because they merely see (celebrities) for a few minutes. But to judge a person through this few minutes is definitely unfair, and certainly inaccurate. Yes, this is the true fact. For one, we are quite helpless about it, secondly, I feel that the most important thing is still that you're clear of what you're doing, those rumors can be differentiated by your true friends. It is your persistence and grasp of art (film) that will finally enlighten
the audience through your work.
(Did you ever get really mad for these matters?) Basically, never yet. I will be a little down… but then again why punish yourself with others' mistake? For example if you criticize my personality to be bad, or that my acting is bad, I will feel, right, perhaps these are the aspects I can still improve on, why should I even get angry? Then, if your claims are wrong, it'd be even more ridiculous to get mad about. Isn't it foolish to punish yourself with others' mistake?
TS: Some loyal fans of yours have a collection of 'Michelle's classic slang / phrase' online, I took note of 2, can you please explain their meaning. The first one is "It is not I who have changed, but the views of others towards me which have changed."
MY: Yes, it was probably said during an interview. For example the Ron case I gave just now, the first day he seems less chatty, but the next day he becomes lively. Everyone have their perceptions when they meet artists, they still report things on a one sided basis. I don't feel that I have changed, yet others say I did change. Maybe it is the time, the shift of environment, others saying me change is just natural! Maybe I've become old, but I think my personality should not have changed (laughs).
When I accepted interview with reporters last time, they usually conclude everything very hurriedly without listening to the entire story, I was even once rumored to be committing suicide! Others asked me, I said: "Ah, how can that possibly be, you must be saying the role I play in series! I really did not jump off a building, my goodness gracious!"
(Another phrase is 'Outdoing is challenging others, excelling is challenging oneself, and I choose to excel, not to outdo.') Yes, right, I said that, there isn't much significance to outdo others, who do you want to outdo? There are many, how many exactly are weaker than you, and how many more are stronger than you? There isn't anything to challenge be it downwards or upwards, it is still best to challenge yourself! (Is that also your motto?) No, my motto is the greeting phrase in my handphone, there are different phrases for the two phones. One of them is a Latin phrase, 'Appreciate this very moment', while the second one is 'Down this lengthy path of life, I shall seek forth and around' Facing life with a very curious and willing to learn mindset, it is so that you are able to be happy always.
TS: When you chat with your fans you are very frank, for example when they praise you, you will instead say you're just 'so-so'?
MY: Well, I can't exactly lie to them! If the media always reports according to the 'so-so' I said, then there is no problem, but they can't change my words, that I claimed a certain film to be 'bad'. 'So-so' and 'bad' has a huge difference (laughs), it is two concepts altogether. If a film is not too good but I was to say it's really good, then doesn't my credibility become too unreliable? Why would I do something to ruin my trustworthiness, pushing myself into an even worse level!
TS: You have mentioned that you wish to act as Wu Zetian (a Tang dynasty empress), Empress Dowager Cixi?
MY: Yes, I've said that before. Because at different point of time, I have different roles I wish to act. I filmed mostly ancient series in TVB, hanging on the wire, fighting scenes, and dressing up as a man. (Maybe because the producer thinks you have the aura!) Aiya, no such thing, maybe he thinks I'm like a monkey, always hopping about! (If you were to dress up as a man again, would you do it?) I would, it is something I'm familiar to, that is if people are still willing to watch me, I am of course willing to act. Because there are different levels of dressing up as a man, different acting wise too, it's impossible I can do it perfectly. Attempting new things in something I've done before, see if there is further space for improvements, it's quite a good idea.
(Why do you wish to play Wu Zetian, do you dislike to be a female too?) Ah, why don't you ask if I'd like to act as Sin Chan (laughs), really, I mean it, when people ask me what I'd like to act, I say the human version of Sin Chan, but no one has ever reported this before, really, I've mentioned it before! I don't mind how the appearance is like, just let me talk like he does (laughs), mischievously, very straight forwardly, and yet no one will ever blame me. Don't you think I am like him in reality?!
Actually I quite like being a female, but I'm not too fond of making up. I usually dress simply and just grab a handbag when I go shopping, I will take the train at times, I don't necessarily need to drive. I feel that earning an income from your career is to allow you some freedom of choice in life, at one side, you can have the comfort of clothes and food, and the other, it can be a basic plain life, I think the significance of earning an income is to allow you the freedom to move back and forth between these two, and not to only restrict yourself at one extreme end.
(Any words that you've ever regret slipping out?) I'm quite direct, but if my words hurt anyone else, then I regret it! (Affecting) To myself? Well, sometimes I do wonder if what I've said was not too good, and if there will be any bad effects. Artists need sincere temperament; they should have the space to reveal their true emotions! For example, Eason Chan, he is quite mad when he fools around, but we feel that that is his charm, whereas others who bear bad intentions may gossip about him, but those who understand him won't say so. My fans will hold me up high, but I am not exactly that good. Fans have the rights and should rightly know both the good and bad sides of a celebrity.
TS: Do you fear you lose out a lot for being a strong woman?
MY: There will be definitely a lot to lose out for being a strong person, but becoming the 'weak one' also loses out on a lot! My belief is, since you've made a choice, you've to love your choice made.
TS: You love China's ancient literature, what is the poem currently in your mind?
MY: Now? (Michelle recites an ancient Chinese poem very naturally) "I live by the headstream, he lives by the stream end, missing him everyday… we don't meet, yet we share the same stream of drink…"
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