The king's speech

Updated: 2011-06-24 10:53

By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily European Weekly)

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The king's speech
Aaron Kwok plays an AIDS victim in his latest film, Life For Love. Yui-Tak Wan / for China Daily 

Song and dance Megastar Aaron Kwok is leaving his pop life behind and getting serious about serious Acting

Aaron Kwok Fu-Shing has been one of China's most successful pop music icons for more than two decades and has a gobsmacking luxury car collection to prove it. Parked in his Hong Kong garage are four Ferraris, four Lamborghinis and two Porches and, of course, a few top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benzes he drives to the local shop. Across the Chinese-speaking world, Kwok is regarded as royalty and known as one of the "Four Heavenly Kings", along with Andy Lau, Leon Lai and Jacky Cheung. Now at age 45, the song and dance man is focusing on another of his life-long passions.

Today he wants to be known as a serious movie actor. "A method actor," Kwok says specifically, as he gives a thumbs-up and looks his interviewer in the eyes.

Kwok's star power is as eye-catching as his exclusive car collection, but this month he was in Europe, attracted by another kind of horse power.

West of London, only 10km from Windsor Castle, he attended the Royal Ascot races, in his capacity as the "ambassador" of Swiss watchmaker Longines, one of the many lucrative sponsorship deals he enjoys. Pepsi, Fuji Film, Charins Skin Care, Citibank International, HSBC Credit Cards and the Hong Kong Jockey Club all pay the good-looking celebrity millions to put his face on their brands.

After a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong and a one-hour drive through London's horrible traffic snarl, the superstar arrives at the famous race track still looking sprightly and dapper and launches into a discourse about acting. Perhaps he is using some of his "method acting" to overcome jet lag.

"I am still at the beginning in acting," he says humbly, considering he started acting more than two decades ago and has appeared in more than 30 Chinese-language films. "It's definitely the best time for an actor after 40, when you are mature enough to act in different sorts of films."

Kwok's fourth decade has definitely been more fruitful than most Hong Kong-based actors. In 2006, he became only the second actor in the history of the Golden Horse Awards to win the best actor award two years consecutively for his role in After This Our Exile. He had won the 2005 award for Divergence. Jackie Chan was the first to achieve such an honor, winning back-to-back awards in 1992-1993.

Kwok's move into acting began in 1989 in Close Escape, which was a typical Hong Kong-style police-and-gangster film but despite performing in many films, most of them romantic comedies, his early work were considered by many as lightweight. Up until he turned 40, his diehard fans had enjoyed his movies, but loved him best as a pop singer and dancer.

And Kwok is an amazing dancer. He was born in Hong Kong and after leaving school worked in a jewelry shop but was keen to pursue a performance career. At 19, he began training as a dancer and his natural talent made him a standout when he starred in music videos and concerts for other established singers. By the late 1980s, he also ventured into acting and played minor TV drama roles.

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