Au’s affection towards the Chinese nation has not faded with time but he is not a blind patriot. Last year, he staged Captain China, a one-man-show he wrote, directed, and performed. Au says the most important thing for the show was to be funny. But even while he was playing for laughs, Au says he wanted to be, “critical of China’s national conditions, critical of the absurdities in Chinese culture.”
“But in the end, I do have love for China, especially towards the people of this country, the Chinese nation; I love them.”
Au is a strong believer in education and knowledge. He thinks these will make a country and an individual strong, so he has a special respect for teachers. In September, Au became a teacher himself, teaching acting at the Academy of Film, at the Hong Kong Baptist University. “I think the ultimate aim of education is to complete a person’s personality,” he says. “Educate your children properly, and then there will be fewer degenerates in society.”
In his teaching, Au draws on years of experience in the entertainment industry. He started as an actor at Asia Television (ATV) but became famous as a presenter on the pioneering infotainment show Hong Kong Today. As well as TV work, Au has acted in films and on the stage. His first role on the stage was as a Cantonese Opera player in the gender-bending drama Hu Du Men in1996.
Apart from acting, the multi-talented Au has also directed his own films, including a short feature reimagining the young Bruce Lee’s last day in America beforereturning to Hong Kong in 1959, What Are You Gonna Do, Sai Fung?
Apart from technical skills and textbook knowledge, Au wants to inspire his students with insights from his own experience. “From beginning to end, I think attitude affects everything,” he says. He wants to inculcate his students with what he believes is the appropriate attitude towards the performing arts.
Throughout his acting life, attitude has affected his work. Au has always been an independent spirit who sticks to his principles. But he recalls that at one time, this made him a person who created conflicts and found it hard to compromise. Family and friends tried to change him but he did not see the need. He became confused and frustrated. His work suffered and his marriage broke down. He and his wife separated for more than three years. In 2005, he was diagnosed with depression.