Third time’s the charm for Angelababy and Mark Chao as the actors reunite in the prequel to the popular Detective Dee film.
TAIWANESE-BORN actor Mark Chao was stumped when researching for his character Detective Dee in Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon.
“I tried to look up Detective Dee in history books to find out more about the character. However most of the books are about Empress Wu Zetian; there was not much about Detective Dee,” the handsome actor tells Star2 in an interview in Hong Kong.
“It was only written in novels about how he cracks cases, hence I have to come up with my own way of portraying the character.”
Dee Renjie or Detective Dee is China’s answer to Sherlock Holmes, as director Tsui Hark puts it. Dee has a remarkable memory and uses his deduction skills to solve cases.
But aside from these set of skills, Chao feels that Dee has a strong sense of justice and is a brave, honest person.
Although Chao is a fast rising male star in the Chinese movie industry, did he feel the pressure of assuming the role of the younger Detective Dee, a role which beloved veteran star Andy Lau played in the first movie?
“I have much respect for Andy Lau. The stress actually comes from whether I can fulfil the director’s expectations,” Chao explains.
This is the third collaboration between Chao and Hong Kong starlet Angelababy. They first acted alongside each other in Han Yan’s, aptly titled, First Time where Chao played Angelababy’s love interest. From their banter during Star2’s interview, which was held before the film’s gala premiere in Hong Kong last Tuesday, it was evident that these two stars, who describe their relationship as “brothers”, share a common understanding that has enabled them to work well together in the movie.
“While waiting on the set, she would fidget and start bugging me. I would be waiting patiently with a book but she would start poking me,” Chao reveals.
Angelababy quickly interjects: “We are all young; how could you be reading when everyone is having fun and talking while waiting on the set.”
He is very mature and one could see it from the way he carries himself.”
In Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon, Angela Yeung, or Angelababy as she is known in the industry, plays the most beautiful woman in the Eastern Capital, a courtesan desired by many.
Angelababy seems born to play this role as the actress is just as popular in real life.
In 2007, the Shanghai-born beauty entered the entertainment industry in Hong Kong first as a model and then made her acting debut in Pang Ho-cheung’s Trivial Matters. It was her role in 2010’s Hot Summer Days that got her noticed and ever since then, Angelababy has become hot property.
It is no secret that many beautiful actresses in Hong Kong are cast in movies as eye candy. Despite her previous roles in romantic films, Angelababy is not afraid of being typecast as the pretty face or the damsel in distress.
“In First Time (where she plays someone who suffers from neuromuscular disease), I played a strong willed character. I even tried my hand as a martial artist in Stephen Fung’s Taichi movies (Taichi 0 and Taichi Hero),” she reasons.
Angelababy has been modelling since 14 and is regarded as an Asian fashion icon. As someone who is also active in the fashion scene, the actress has a lot to say about the period pieces she wore for her role as Courtesan Yin in Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon.
“The Tang Dynasty had an extensive cultural exchange so that explains why the costumes are sexy. Plus, my character is a foreigner,” she says To prepare for the role, the actress learned about tea ceremonies and began dance training three months before the shoot.
“I have also looked online about Tang Dynasty paintings and learned how to pose like a courtesan.”
She reveals that director Tsui Hark would also give her tips on how to act like an enchanting courtesan.
“To attract men, he said, it’s all in the eyes; you must show that you care for no one (but him).”
Co-star Chao says: “I was surprised to see Angelababy when she first appeared on set as Courtesan Yin. I thought to myself, ‘What happened to my brother?’
“This is the first time I see extras not needing any cue; they were dumbfounded the moment she appeared (yet) they could act without any further instructions.”
> Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon is currently playing in cinemas nationwide.
Solving the mystery with Detective Dee