However, he understands he has no control over his career in show business. He explains that while one person may become popular overnight, there will be somebody else who has good acting skills but does not get the support from the audience.
“It’s a job where you can become rich and famous, but then you can also lose everything suddenly,” Chan adds. Chan is stoical about not landing leading roles. “To me it is a job, it doesn’t matter if I am a star or not.”
However, he does get upset about being looked down on as a bit-part actor. He is still furious when he recalls the behaviour and attitude of one assistant director. “I still remember him [assistant director] looking at me with scorn even now,’’ Chan says. Later, that assistant director was promoted to director. On one occasion, Chan was asked to help translate a script into the Xinhui dialect, but the director challenged him. Chan decided not to answer that director any more.
Not all his co-workers have such a bad attitude though, and Chan says some TVB colleagues become “more polite and respectful to me after learning I am a Chinese painter,’’ Chan says. One producer asked him to make Chinese paintings as stage props for a costume drama series The Legendary Four Aces which turned out to be a huge hit.
“Being an actor and a Chinese painter at the same time is contradictory. Though both of them are art, the lifestyle is completely different,” observes Chan. “Being a Chinese painter is a goal that can be achieved by your effort.”
Chan says a painter can control his output, he knows exactly what he needs to practise in order to improve. However, as an actor, the outcome is greatly influenced by others, such as producers, directors and other actors. Chan says there is a great contrast in the way he handles the two kinds of work.
Chan explains that in a production, the ultimate responsibility lies with the director, Even if he spots problems during a shoot, all Chan can do is be silent. He is not “qualified’’ to voice his opinions unless the director actively asks for suggestions. Chan understands that there must be a hierarchy otherwise the director cannot control the situation.
While he respects the director’s role, Chan tries his best to take show business newcomers under his wing. He points out their mistakes and encourages them to learn other skills so they can survive when they leave the industry. “Show business is bustling with noise and excitement, but it is easy for people to waste their time unless they have other ways out to learn different skills,” he says.,