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Friday, April 28, 2006

Felix Wong's Current Life: Simple & Leisurely

Felix Wong Yat Wah is a very demure person. For the interview, the reporter borrowed a winter jacket for Felix to wear. Despite the scorching sun in the sky and the hot weather, Felix put on the jacket. Without even fully adjusting the jacket in place, Felix took a digital camera and started taking self-photos.

Another example of Felix's demure personality is how he entered TVB's acting academy in 1979. Although it was not his own personal goal at the time, he embraced it. "After graduating from high school, I did not find a job yet. My neighbors suggested that I join TVB. Everyday, the housewives would pester me about it. They even obtained the application form for me. So I finally applied to TVB, taking a small step at a time."

Felix said that over the course of his career, he has accepted filming projects when there is work. He never made a long-term plan for himself, nor did he try to create better opportunities for himself. In the last 5 years, Felix's filming projects have decreased dramatically and his life has become even more tranquil.

"I don't like a [complicated] life; the simplicity of my current life is much better. What about money? As long as you have enough to spend, then that's fine. If there is a filming project that happens to come in my way, then I will take it. For example,
Andy Lau Tak Wah asked me to film 'Wait Till You're Older,' so I took the role."

While speaking, Felix would often smile doltishly, just like his Kwok Jing character in "Legend of the Condor Heroes." Felix said, "Yes, in the series, I was just acting like myself!"

With such an unambitious and quiescent personality, it is extremely difficult to survive in the entertainment industry. Yet Felix's fame has only increased with time and not diminished over the last 26 years. Felix selected the place to meet for the interview. He picked a local unassuming cafe. Felix said that he does not feel that he is a big star and that he is not used to interviews. So he picked a simple cafe, which he feels is more suitable to have a comfortable chat.

Felix's Family
Over the course of his career, Felix had very few rumors. The only exceptions were in the 90's when he had rumors with Ada Choi Siu Fun and in 2000, when tabloids claimed that Felix's wife, Leung Kit Wah, had an extra-marital affair with a colleague in her insurance company.

Felix explained calmly, "That was just fabricated news by the tabloids. At the time, they liked to report news of that nature. But the type of news that tabloids publish now is even more horrifying!"

"After that incident about the alleged extra-marital affair, my relationship with my wife improved. We started to understand each other even more, trying to see things from each other's perspective and consult regularly with each other with more confidence. Mutual trust and accommodation are very important in a marriage."

"I now drive my wife to work daily. When I don't have work and she is off, we will go to the supermarket to buy groceries to cook at home. As for being romantic, my wife is much better than me. I will only buy flowers and small gifts on designated holidays and birthdays. However, she will occasionally give me some small surprises! Haha!"

Felix and Leung Kit Wah started dating in 1982. They got married in 1988 and 2 years later, their daughter was born. "My daughter is almost 16 years old this year. She is in Form 4 and will be taking her school examinations next year. Luckily, she normally does quite well in school (top 5 in her class), so I am not worried."

"I have a good relationshiop with my daughter, mainly by accomodating her. She is interested in Japanese culture, so I will chat with her about which singers/ actors appeared in which dramas. As to the concerts that she wants to see, I will attend with her. We go to Japan almost every year. As to deep conversations, she often chats with my wife more."

"I asked my daughter if she is dating, but she said she does not have a boyfriend. If she were dating in the future, I would ask her to bring the guy home, so that I can see what type of person he is."

"My daughter has strong performing skills too. In the past, she enjoyed singing, now she is involved in her school's drama productions. If she would like to enter the entertainment industry, I would insist that she complete her education first. But the best thing is that she doesn't enter the industry, as the industry is quite complicated by nature."

Felix said that his family is much more important to him than his career. "Your career will come to an end one day. But your family will always be with you; until the day you die, you have to be responsible for them. Of course family is more important!"

Semi-Retirement
Did Felix consider himself to be a good man? Felix said, "Only partially. I still have not quit smoking yet. In the past, I was often filming outside of Hong Kong and did not have too much time at home with my wife and daughter. But my workload has been reduced lately, so I spend more time at home. My relationship with my wife and daughter has improved as a result."

Since Felix's mother died in 2000, Felix has vowed to cut down his workload. "My mother had a hard life; she never had a chance to enjoy it before passing away. After raising my 3 siblings and I, she died. If I didn't cut down my hectic filming schedule, maybe it would be my turn [to die] in a few years. It's not worth it!"

Felix said that since he made the decision to cut down on his workload, he has rejected more work projects than he has accepted in the last few years. Felix will only occasionally act and pick up mainland China advertising ads. Felix's current life is very leisurely, somewhat like a "non-engaged youth."

"In my free time, I usually play soccer, go bowling, drive my wife to work, pick up my daughter from school, and play computer games and crossword puzzles. Over the last 20 years, I am at the happiest point in my life right now!"

Does Felix's wife mind that he's not working? "No, actually she has become happier." (Is there a problem in paying for daily living expenses?) "My income has decreased and I am no longer earning as much as before. But as long as we have enough money, then that's fine! We have never attached too much importance on money and material-goods. I don't spend a lot of money on a daily basis: only breakfast, lunch, and sometimes bowling. Playing soccer is free."

The reporter saw that Felix wore a simple t-shirt and jeans, while carrying a thermos with tea inside. Felix was still driving the same car from 10 years ago, a Toyota Exvi. It's true that he has simple habits.

Does Felix plan to continue living his life in the same manner? Felix smiled a bit doltishly, "Wah, that would be awesome!"

Tired Inside His Heart
Although Felix's life became more simplified with less workload in the last 5 years, he rarely watchs television dramas. "The last drama I watched was Liza Wang and Damien Lau's "Awakening Story." I saw the first episode and was attracted by the series. Since I'm an actor myself and filmed so many series, I don't like to watch dramas anymore!"

Over his 26 year career, Felix has filmed more than 70 series. Felix is not fond of those days when he was filming day and night. "I was too obedient! Whatever TVB offered to me, I took the role. My work attitude was very hard-working, with modest requests, and did not complain about hard work. I was very easy to work with, so producers liked to collaborate with me."

"Fame and popularity? I was just lucky! I have never thought that the first drama I had a major role in, 《過客》 with Carol Cheng Yu Ling would be so well received. But at that time, TVB's famous leads such as Chow Yun Fat, Ray Lui Leung Wai and Wong Yuan Shen, they all wanted to leave. As a result younger actors like myself had an opportunity, so I was very lucky!"

"At the time, I was busy filming, so I didn't have time to consider anything else. I only knew what time to arrive at work. If there's not enough time to return home after filming, I would sleep overnight at the studio. If the scene doesn't involve me, I would have to take care of myself, unlike the artists today who have their own managing agents to help with their work schedules."

Did Felix regret spending his youth devoted to filming non-stop? "I remember that after I became popular, I was so busy with filming that I didn't play soccer for 4 years! That was really miserable!" Felix wrinkled his brows and shook his head at that thought.

The reporter felt that Felix's personality did not fit the entertainment industry. "Yes, I only think of acting as a job. People say that you have to make the right connections with the right people, but I don't do that. If it is unnecessary, I do not go to social gatherings to rub shoulders with the 'right people.'"

The 5 Tigers
Felix
said that over the years, his friends have been members of the HK Celebrity Soccer Team. He has also grown closer to Andy Lau Tak Wah. "I had more free time over the last 2 years. Andy has also changed, trying to get back in touch with old friends. In our spare time, we will play bowling or go to his house to chat."

"Andy wanted me to learn bowling, as he is a big fan of bowling. Bowling is quite fun. If I don't play well, Andy will scold me. In the shortest time possible, he taught me the most suitable way to play. Andy is not only serious about his work, but when it comes to play, he is competitive as well."

As for the other 3 Tigers Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Michael Miu Kiu Wai and Kent Tong Jun Yip, Felix said, "Tony is even more self-absorbed than me. He is quite mysterious and doesn't say much, so you will not know what he is thinking. Michael has great leadership skills, which is why his former eyeglass business succeeded. As for Kent, he is best in socializing with people and has the largest number of ideas. Kent started his own production company."

Felix admitted that aside from Andy and himself, there is not much contact among the other members of the 5 Tigers. Was Felix the least ambitious among the group? "Yes, that's absolutely true."

Felix said, "Back in the 1980's, there were a lot less tabloid reports than nowadays concerning actors. Most of the entertainment gossip about the 5 Tigers was true. Everyone has pretty much settled down with their own families, except Andy, who had some gay rumors before...."

The reporter immediately changed the topic; how does Felix feel about the "New 5 Tigers?" Felix widened his eyes, "There's a 'New 5 Tigers?'" The reporter referred to Raymond Lam Fung, Ron Ng Cheuk Hei, Bosco Wong Chung Chak, Sammul Chan Kin Fung, and Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming. "I do know Kenneth since he plays soccer. But I haven't worked with any of the guys and have not watched their performances before."

Felix said that in his spare time, he normally watches the news, soccer, Animal Planet, and AXN channels.

Epilogue: Sentiments in the Setting Sun
During the photo shoot,
Felix's jacket reminded the reporter of his image in "Soldier of Fortune." Felix is very approachable, so he is a very likeable person. Many people born in the 1970's or before will also cherish the 1980's and remember Felix fondly.

The reporter liked Felix because he resembled another Taiwanese singer, Lau Man Ching. At the time the reporter was still young. Over the years, it was revealed that Lau was actually homosexual and has retired in the USA. Who would have thought that 26 years later, the reporter would have a chance to interview Felix Wong, drinking tea and smoking with him?

"A leisurely spirit like floating clouds,
Human sentiments in the setting sun."
--- Li Bai ("Sending a Friend Off")

Looking at Felix Wong's departing backside, the years have passed quietly. In the future, when will there be a chance to meet again?


[X] credit: Jayne @ http://jaynestars.com/
Express Weekly #373

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