For the love of it
Simon Yam dreams of starring in a love story.
IT may come as a surprise to some, but Simon Yam, widely acclaimed for his gritty portrayal of gangsters, would love to act in a love story.
The Hong Kong actor has played a broad range of characters in his long film career, with over 100 films to his name, but feels that he is being typecast as an action and character star.
“I would love to play a romantic role in a love story,” he told StarTwo in a recent interview in Hainan, China.
Though in the midst of filming two movies, a police story and a comedy, The Passion Island, the superstar took time off from his busy schedule to take part in the Mission Hills Star Trophy golf tournament, a four-day pro-am event that involved top golfers and golfplaying celebrities from around the world.
In April, Yam’s compelling performance as a struggling shoemaker in Echoes Of The Rainbow won him the best actor award in the Hong Kong Film Awards. After more than half a lifetime in show business, the actor remains popular and well-recognised.
Asked to name his favourite role, Yam, 56, said it has yet to come. “People are always asking if I would like to act in Hollywood like my friends Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow
‘I love making movies and I am content with doing just that here in Asia,’ says golf lover Yun-Fat, and my answer is no.
“Why would I want to spend five years in the States to make two movies? It takes too long to produce a movie in America. I love my job and I love making movies and I am content with doing just that here in Asia,” he said. How does he prepare for a role? “For my pickpocket character in Sparrow, I went to an old street in Hong Kong. Everything there is like it’s from the 1940s and I was there every day for a month to learn how the actual pickpockets worked. Luckily for me, I didn’t get my pocket picked!”
Yam has played many gangster roles and his most famous one is as a triad boss in Election. He did his research by spending time in northeast China. “The people there are tough and I tried to immerse myself in their culture,” he said.
Referring to his award-winning performance in Echoes Of The Rainbow starring opposite Sandra Ng, Yam said he was paid very little for the movie.
“The director told me there wasn’t a big budget. I told him to just give me pocket money because when the script is good and the director is good, I don’t mind being paid just an allowance.”
The Omega ambassador has been to Malaysia so often that he knows a few Bahasa Malaysia words. Having visited Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Malacca many times, he has recently discovered the joys of golfing in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
“There are so many good golf courses within a half-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu town centre. I recently played golf at the Kinabalu Golf Club, which was an amazing experience as the course is located halfway up Mt Kinabalu,” he said.
Photography remains the shutterbug’s passion and golf comes a close second. “I would love to play more and reduce my handicap (he plays to a respectable 18), but I only get a chance to play about once or twice a month when I go to Shenzhen (China),” he said, adding that as a golfer he has met many people of different nationalities. “We don’t speak the same language, but we communicate through the sport.”
Looking tanned, the result of a lot of swimming and diving for his movie The Passion Island, Yam said he will be in Malaysia early next year for the official opening of Omega’s new boutique at the Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur.
“I have been an Omega ambassador since 2002 and it has been a fun partnership. I have been to many of their events, and they have taken me to lots of places,” said Yam, who is married to Hong Kong supermodel Qi Qi, with whom he has a daughter.
A good sport: Simon Yam.