Here’s the first of the interviews (which was published this past Sunday), along with some supplemental commentary that Oriental Daily also published about Felix’s series.
Oriental Daily Interview with Felix Wong [Part 1]: “I was never mad at Tony [Leung]!”
The HK television industry of the 1980s was full of talented artists – that was also the era that brought us TVB’s 5 Tigers: Felix Wong (黃日華), Tony Leung (梁朝偉), Michael Miu (苗僑偉), Kent Tong (湯鎮業), and Andy Lau (劉德華). Despite being promoted together, all 5 siu sangs had different personalities and ended up going down different paths, both in life and career. A few years ago, when the Tigers reunited to film a movie, Tony Leung was not part of the group, leading to rumors that the ‘brothers’ relationship had ruptured and media speculation that perhaps Tony was the cause.
For the next 5 days, during our an interview with Oriental Daily, Felix Wong will talk about the various trials and tribulations behind the 5 Tiger relationship. In addition, he will also speak candidly about the marriage ‘crisis’ he and his wife had experienced, his path to fame as well as how his life was like working for TVB back in the 80s.
** Felix speaks:
Back then, TVB was going through a ‘poaching’ crisis and the company lost quite a few siu sangs – therefore, they decided to push the newer siu sangs up to take their place. The strategy was to take the current popular siu sangs with the most potential and put them together – I was picked as one of those to be promoted, along with Michael [Miu], Kent [Tong], Tony [Leung], etc. Actually, at the time, the 5 of us had never officially worked together – our first collaboration was in a charity event in 1982 where we performed various stunts together. Since there was some difficulty to the stunts that we had to do, we all practiced together for close to 2 months – we saw each other practically day and night at the time, so that’s how we become more familiar with one another. To be honest, we never really spent a whole lot of time together outside of those 2 months – once the charity event was over, we pretty much only saw each other in the makeup room, though our relationship overall remained pretty good. You might not believe it, but all these years, the only TV series that all 5 of us collaborated in was The Yang’s Saga《楊家將》.
Kent Tong was known for being the most good-looking one
Over the years, I know there have been a lot of rumors surrounding the 5 Tigers. One of the rumors was that our relationship with Tony was ‘ruptured’ because he was rarely seen together in public with us. To tell you the truth, back when we [the Tigers] were at the height of our popularity, there truly were a lot of ‘crises’ that we had to endure. At the time [back in 1984], TVB wanted all of their artists to sign a long 5 year contract with them, however quite a few artists had already started movie careers outside of TVB – in order not to be tied down, we had once discussed among ourselves about not signing the contract. One day, we suddenly received word that Tony had already signed the [5 year] contract – of course we were shocked because we didn’t understand what was going on at the time, however I wouldn’t say that we felt ‘betrayed’ because everyone has the right to pursue a career path that works best for them. Besides, it’s not like we had actually come to an agreement not to sign – it was just something we had lightly talked about, so of course we wouldn’t be mad at Tony [for signing].
Michael and I were classmates in the same year Acting Class and since we pretty much ‘grew up’ together, our relationship is especially close. Kent is actually considered our ‘senior’, since he graduated from the Acting Class right before ours, however we were still able to get along pretty well – amongst us Tigers, Kent was known for being the most good-looking one. As for Tony, he truly was the most reclusive one in the group – he didn’t like to talk much and in fact, he could actually go an entire day without saying a word! We once tried to ‘influence’ him and get him to talk more – it worked for awhile, but he very quickly went back to his old ways again.
Tony likes to stay at home, turns down socializing opportunities
Even though he likes to be silent, Tony truly does take his work very seriously. As soon as he starts working, he is 100% focused on what he is doing and doesn’t play around, though he does sometimes have a brief conversation with those he’s working with on a particular scene. Even after work, Tony is the type who leaves quickly and doesn’t participate in any social activities -- he has his own little world. Every time we invite him to go out, even if we get Michael to ask him, Tony’s answer is always the same: “No, you guys go play, I’m going to head home.”
Informed about Barbara Yung’s death, Felix’s initial reaction was: “Stop playing!”
Back when we filmed Legend of the Condor Heroes《射鵰英雄傳》together, Barbara Yung (翁美玲) was actually a newbie at the time. I feel that she was a very smart woman who took her work seriously, worked hard, and had good relationships with each of her colleagues – she got along well with pretty much everyone. Even though I knew that she and Kent were dating, we actually didn’t see each other often because I was very busy with work. Later on, I remember very clearly that I was on vacation in Malaysia one day when a colleague called to tell me that Barbara had passed away – I couldn’t believe it and even told the colleague: “Stop playing!” However, after I found out it was true, I immediately cancelled the rest of my vacation and rushed back to HK to help with pall bearing responsibilities [at the funeral].
Carina Lau would have been crowned TV Queen
During his tenure at TVB, Felix had collaborated with many of the station’s most popular leading actresses -- his collaboration with Carina Lau (劉嘉玲) in 1989’s Looking Back in Anger《義不容情》 is considered a ‘classic’ in the TV industry. Speaking of his ‘old partner’, Felix laughed and stated: “Her character was a pretty big challenge, as she went from being a willful rich girl to a mature woman who was willing to give up the person she loved to someone else. As the filming went on, Carina threw herself more and more into her character. If there was such a thing as the TV Queen award back then, she would have gotten it for sure!
As for his co-star in 1995’s Racing Peak《馬場大亨》, actress Amy Chan (陳秀雯), Felix indicated that their collaboration was a very happy one. In the series, Amy’s character was quite ‘extreme’, as she not only smoked, drank, and had a gambling habit, she also was money-crazy – even Amy herself said that her performance back then was so ‘borderline’ that she wouldn’t let her son watch the series. In any case, Felix and Amy had great chemistry in the series and both had fun filming it.
It is known that Felix likes to help out newcomers by giving them advice on acting. Back when he filmed the series Time Off 《生命有take 2》 [produced in 1998, aired in 2000], lead actress Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼) was a newbie who had just come out of the Miss HK pageant. Having to take on a lead role with little to no acting experience, Charmaine was under a lot of pressure – at the time, she didn’t even understand how the camera positions worked. Seeing this, Felix gave Charmaine some acting tips and advice. Even though later on, Charmaine herself said that her performance [in that series] was not up to standard, Felix felt that she did okay: “For a newbie, her performance wasn’t bad – she was able to pick up on things fairly quickly!”
Felix chooses his favorite performances
Felix Wong achieved fame during the TV industry’s ‘golden era’ and throughout that time, he participated in many popular classics. Out of all the series that he had filmed in his career, there are 4 that he views as his most satisfactory performances:
.—Soldier of Fortune《香城浪子》: In the series, Felix portrays Wai Lok, a rascal of sorts who grew up in a shady part of town but ends up developing a relationship with a wealthy heiress played by Patricia Chong (莊靜而). His character’s catchphrase in the series (吹乒乓) became one of the most popular phrases amongst audiences at the time. Felix’s meticulous performance in that series helped to secure his ‘first-line siu sang’ position at the time.
.—Legend of the Condor Heroes《射鵰英雄傳》: Felix Wong and Barbara Yung’s portrayal of Kwok Jing and Wong Yung was extremely well-received by audiences and still considered ‘classic’ even today. Felix’s portrayal of the overly honest yet extremely righteous Kwok Jing brought the character to life and made him a household name with audiences.
.—Looking Back in Anger《義不容情》: Felix Wong and Deric Wan’s (溫兆倫) portrayal of two brothers with a conflicted relationship who end up becoming enemies proved to be breakthrough roles for both actors, whose popularity quickly rose back when the series aired. With his performance, Felix’s skill as a ‘talent-path’ actor was finally established.
.—Racing Peak《馬場大亨》: This series paired 2 strong actors Felix Wong and Amy Chan together as a married couple and under the leadership of series producer Wai Ka Fai (韋家輝), their pairing proved to have great chemistry. Felix’s convincing portrayal of the main character’s ‘rags to riches’ story as well as his eccentric personality in the series both left deep impressions on audiences.