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An Exclusive Interview
with Edison Chen
(Part I)



Returning from a 2 year respite, Hong Kong actor Edison Chen is set to fully revive his entertainment career. In March 2011, Chen is present at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival promoting Almost Perfect, an independent film he stars in. We're fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down and talk to Chen during the festival. Topics include his filming experience, his changing perspectives on the craft of acting and his latest work plans.

Special thanks to Larsen Associates for making this interview possible.

Please enjoy the interview!

* The interview was originally conducted in Cantonese.

Who is Edison Chen?

Born in 1980, Edison Chen is a Hong Kong-based Chinese Canadian artiste.

Edison Chen was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. During his teenage year, he moved to Hong Kong with his family, where he was spotted by a talent scout to star in a commercial in 1999. Since then, his career in the show business began. In 2000, he appeared in his first Hong Kong film Gen-Y-Cops. At the same time, he was invited to sign a deal with Emperor Entertainment Group and become a pop singer.

With the success of Gen-Y-Cops, Chen has become a popular choice for directors in Hong Kong. He continued to star in films like Infernal Affairs series, Initial D and Dog Bites Dog. He also worked on numerous productions all over Asia.

In 2006, Chen received his first acting role in Hollywood, starring in The Grudge 2, and in 2008, he also made a cameo in the international blockbuster The Dark Knight.

Apart from acting and singing, Edison Chen has been actively engaged in a great variety of business. He is best known to the public as the owner of several high profile fashion and multi-media companies.

In January 2008, Chen was involved in a notorious sex photo scandal, which forced him to abandon his entertainment career "indefinitely" and fled to Los Angeles to start a new life.

Two years after the incident, Edison Chen is finally making a strong comeback to the entertainment circle. After starring in Bertha Bay-Sa Pan's Almost Perfect, he is now preparing his first ever concert tour.

  Edison Chen  

Almost Perfect

Cinespot: Your character in Almost Perfect is quite different from what you have done before. How do you choose your role now? Do you have any specific requirement in mind?

Chen: At this moment, I don't want to do anything I have tried before. This is very important. Whenever I take on a job, I want to make sure there is new challenge. If I've done a similar role three to four times in a row, I would need a break. For instance, after Infernal Affairs, I was casted in a lot of triad or cop thrillers like New Police Story, Jiang Hu. Since I really had no motivation to do better, I decided not to take on similar roles, no matter how good the script was.

Cinespot: What's the challenge in Almost Perfect then?

Chen: My role as Andy in this film is quite autobiographical. When I was small, I had very poor relationship with my family, we were not close at all. I guess it wasn't anyone's fault. Perhaps I was just too young and rebellious, I wasn't mature enough to understand this kind of thing.

After I read the script, they initially wanted me to do the lead role (as Kelly Hu's romantic interest), however, I decided the role of the brother (Andy) is more suitable (due to the above reason). In this character, I saw a lot of myself, a lot I've gone through. I'm emotionally attached to Andy.. Also, I haven't acted in a film for a long time, I believe this role was a better fit for me. Moreover, I was getting tired of playing romantic leads and I really couldn't persuade myself to be the boy next door anymore.

Cinespot: Just like Andy, you have two sisters too!

Chen: Yes, that's why I said this character parallels my life in some senses.

Cinespot: Since this role reminds you so much of your encounters. does it bring back a lot of memories or reflection, including what happened two years ago?

Chen: Talking about self-examination, it actually happened way before I worked on this film. In the past two years, I had much more time to seriously think about the future direction of my life, what I've done in the past and what I value most. Therefore, it's probably not too accurate to say this film brought back the memories of the 2008 incident.

In the past few years, my family relationship became much closer and warmer than before. I wasn't carrying any burden during the production, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to fully release myself when I perform.

Cinespot: You have worked on a great number of films in Hong Kong (and a few in Hollywood), but almost all of them are bigger budget commercial films (in another word, studio production). So how's the experience different doing an independent production this time?

Chen: I don't think there is any difference. Certainly, budget-wise, it is not the same. But other than that, it is still a movie. No matter a $100 million production or $100 work, it is all about the dedication (heart). I used to work for a shoestring budget music video before, perhaps it was more difficult, but my work attitude was the same.

Cinespot: What about your participation then?

Chen: A movie is a movie. I don't really agree with this "independent film" label, perhaps it is better to call it "alternative". However, having said that, I also don't think Almost Perfect is alternative, it is indeed a very mainstream production, nothing independent at all. Also, indie and low budget aren't necessarily co-related, what I care most is whether it is a good film. A big budget blockbuster isn't always a good film.

For me, if I can gain something new from my coworkers in a film, I already call it a nice experience. For instance, my work partner this time Kelly Hu is a very professional actress. Director Bertha Bay-Sa Pan is also a very conscientious but nice person. I learned a lot from them. Before I saw the final cut, I already felt it's a successful job. I especially wanted to appreciate them because they were the only ones who didn't mind to grant me an opportunity when no one dared to do so during the difficult time (after the photo scandal). I thought they were really brave.

Cinespot: In general, how would you rate your performance this time?

Chen: There're a few scenes I enjoyed most, for example, the quarrel scene with my father (Roger Rees), it was really right to the point. When I was performing that scene, I had strong feeling.

I didn't like to watch playback during filming because it would limit my performance. If you watch the playback too often, you might get distracted by how you look on the screen or whatever, and it would eventually lead to superficial acting style. Now I don't care about superficial, I only want to make sure my acting works.

  Edison Chen  

In part II of the interview, Edison Chen continues to talk about his insight on the craft of acting, as well as his latest project and concert tour. Click here to check it out!