ad info




TIME Asia
TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Entertainment
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia

TIME.com
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Asiaweek
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

 ASIAWEEK.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL


Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story

MAY 1, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 17


Paul Hu/Assignment Asia for TIME
Hong Kong's 'It-girl'

'I've Had To Face Everything'
Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung

Cecilia Cheung, 19, got her first big break as an unknown in Stephen Chow's King of Comedy in 1999. One year and four films later--including the newly released Twelve Nights--the fresh-faced actress is often described as Hong Kong's 'It-girl' and on April 16 she won Best Newcomer at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Cheung spoke candidly to TIME's Stephen Short one week before the awards and reveals how she shuns fame, rarely goes out, and has already moved house five times this year because of constant press harassment.

TIME: When you were 13, 14 or even 18, who did you most admire in the Hong Kong film industry? Who were your idols?
Cheung:
Maggie Cheung and Karen Mok.

TIME: Why those two?
Cheung:
They both have loads of character. Maggie's very pretty, but she doesn't act pretty and soft in all her acting parts. She's always herself, and very positive. Karen has such a strong character; her face, her look, her attitude I just love her.

TIME: How did you get noticed to start with?
Cheung:
I had a friend who worked in a hair salon and was working on a catwalk show. He asked for some help and during that show I was introduced to people. And that was how it started.

TIME: And what was your first job?
Cheung:
A commercial on television for lemon tea.

TIME: Had you expected to be discovered?
Cheung:
Not really, no. I'm not like that. I tend to stay at home. I don't have many friends and love my family. I try very hard to be normal. I don't like discos, parties, or the night time. If I do have free time, I don't go out. I stay in and listen to music and I don't think about fame.

  ALSO IN TIME

EXCLUSIVE!
A pop-up manga cartoon titled Maruichi's Tea Time designed specially for TIME by popular artist Nozomi Yanahara

COVER: Gizmo Nation
For the past 50 years Japanese have embraced the notion that salvation is to be found through technical innovation--and the world has benefited from their ingenuity
Timeline: A look at the rise of technology in Japan (photo essay)
My Robot, My Friend: Japanese love not only to give their machines names, but also to make them pals
Viewpoint: Let no one say these citizens are automatons
Birth of a Robot: TIME takes an exclusive inside look at the design, construction and assembly of "Pino" (photo essay)
Land of the Rising Gadget: At times, this can seem like an almost fully automated society (photo essay)
The 10 Smartest Machines: These whiz-bang doo-dads are just around the corner; plus, the 5 dumbest head-scratching devices (photo essay)
Lonely Inventors: Surprisingly, the country doesn't always reward its most creative scientific minds
The Old Ways: Some tasks are still done better by humans
Local Talent: Ota ward remakes itself
Cellul-Oids: Japanese cinema is full of mechanical monsters, mayhem and monkey business
On the Boards: An interactive Shakespeare
Essay: Ryu Murakami bemoans the alienation of youth
Essay: Pico Iyer on why the new is old in Japan

ALSO IN TIME:
CINEMA: Hong Kong's It Girl
Nervy, gifted and terribly precocious, actress Cecilia Cheung may be the local film industry's next great hope
Web-only Interview: Cecelia shuns fame, rarely goes out, and has already moved house five times this year to escape press attention

TIME: Why did Stephen Chow cast you, an unknown, in King Of Comedy?
Cheung:
I think he wanted a new face, some fresh talent.

TIME: You must have been flattered?
Cheung:
To be honest, I had no feeling when I took the movie on. I had no idea whether I could act or not, no idea what to do on set, I had no experience of any kind. I just did what he and they asked me to do.

TIME: And do you think they were happy?
Cheung:
Not always, no. I think Stephen thought I was hard work sometimes.

TIME: Did you learn lots from him?
Cheung:
Not really. He just kept telling me to be myself. He didn't teach much. He's got very expressive eyes. I could just look at his eyes and know what he wanted.

TIME: Do you feel like a target all the time?
Cheung:
Yes. It's very hard. Everyone looks at you.

TIME: Do you wake up at night screaming?
Cheung:
I'm a very happy girl. Even though I have a lot of problems, I tend to wake up in the morning and start each day afresh. No matter how sad I was the day before, I'm always happy the next morning.

TIME: Will you still be in showbiz when you're 40?
Cheung:
Until I'm 28 or 29 I think, and then I'll get married at 30. That's what a fortune teller told me.

TIME: What's your favorite movie, of the ones you've made, and why?
Cheung:
Fly Me To Polaris, because it has a real heart.

TIME: Do you cry watching it? How many times have you watched it and cried?
Cheung:
I can't stop. It's very sad. More than 10.

TIME: What's your favorite scene?
Cheung:
I love the scene when the diary is being read to me by Ritchie Ren and I have to cry.

TIME: Did you fake it?
Cheung:
No. I do it for real. I always want everything to be completely natural. I used to be able to cry easily but now it's harder. I'm under so much pressure I've had so many difficult things to put up with.

TIME: Surely the pressure you're under makes it easier to cry and break down?
Cheung:
I feel now as though I've had to face everything a person can. Nothing can make me feel sadder, or more hurt. When you get to that point, you lose certain feelings, and sometimes I find now I have almost no feeling. I've had to face everything.

TIME: How much threat do you feel from your father's triad activity? I've also read you've had rape threats and contracts put on your life.
Cheung:
I don't feel too much of a threat. I accept what my father does. I knew from a young age he was involved with triads. I don't feel ashamed. I love him.

TIME: Do you have regular contact with him?
Cheung:
We do now. But we had long periods apart. We're very close.

TIME: Have the Hong Kong press ruined your life?
Cheung:
Yes. They've made it very difficult for me. But then they have to work, their companies demand it, so I have to ignore what they say. They always push you down, and if you push yourself down with them, you want to kill yourself. So I tend to laugh now when I see what magazines write. You can't care. If you do, you could never be happy. You would rather die. There is something every single day and you just never know what they're going to print

TIME: What's the most outrageous story you've seen about yourself?
Cheung:
All of them. Every story isn't real. They write what they like and truth doesn't matter. I hate them. Everywhere you live they take pictures and tell everyone. I've moved five times this year already and have been living in a hotel in Causeway Bay for the last two weeks.

TIME: How quickly do they find you?
Cheung:
One to two months.

TIME: How many people camp outside your house?
Cheung:
About 10. There are usually three or four cars always outside my house. But they vary the people.

TIME: How soon would you have to move again?
Cheung:
Very soon. I quite like moving.

TIME: Really?
Cheung:
They can chase me but they won't get me.

TIME: Will you enjoy the Hong Kong film awards?
Cheung:
Yes, but I don't expect to win. I'm going to sing a song during the performance.

TIME: Do you get nervous when you sing?
Cheung:
Not at all. I stand on the stage and love it.

TIME: How did you end up in Australia?
Cheung:
My auntie asked me to study there. I went to Queensland when I was 14 and Melbourne at 16. I loved it. It was very peaceful and comfortable. Not like Hong Kong.

TIME: Did you finish your studies?
Cheung:
No. I came back to Hong Kong. I was missing my family too much.

TIME: Tell me about Twelve Nights. What sort of Cecilia Cheung will I see in this movie, which I haven't seen so far in the others?
Cheung:
It was very hard to act. The girl in this movie is very different from me. The character I play in this movie is very lost, she doesn't know what she should do, what her future will be and above all what's important to her. In real life, I know what I have to do. I have my future set out for the next few years and my work will be stable I hope.

TIME: What was it like working with Aubrey Lam?
Cheung:
She's so nice and very, very ... gentle. When I work with men it's always difficult. Stephen was very noisy, very demanding and men don't always understand women's minds very well. Aubrey knows exactly how women think and why they act the way they do. That was reassuring for me. I've not been used to that before. In the King of Comedy, there was one scene where I was knitting in a chair, and Stephen told me to throw a tantrum. It looked stupid, made me look stupid and I told him I would never behave that way. I don't think he understood that.

TIME: What's next?
Cheung:
I'm going to Beijing for two months to film with Tsui Hark. It's the sequel to his 'Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain' and it's full of old-fashioned Chinese stuff.

Write to TIME at mail@web.timeasia.com

This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home


AsiaNow


Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME, Asiaweek and CNN

   LATEST HEADLINES:

WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
 Search

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.