INTERVIEW: NICHOLAS TSE

 NICHOLAS TSE’S VORACITY FOR BEING THE MEANEST AND VILEST VILLAIN IN SHAOLIN

 What draws you to Shaoin?
Nicholas Tse: 
Actually, my criteria for filming are very simple. Firstly, the production must do the project wholeheartedly. Secondly, the script must attract me. Moreover, I was thinking that, I have been in this line for a very long time, but I didn’t get chance to work with brother Andy Lau yet, so I hoped to work with him. Besides, I have done many Benny Chan films before, and we have developed great trust and rapport with each other, so, when he told me about this film, I agreed, seeing that all conditions were met.

What’s the Shaolin Temple in your heart?
Nicholas Tse: 
A kind of spirit, a benign feel.

What are the differences between the new Shaolin and the old Shaolin Temple?
Nicholas Tse: 
This is very unfair to director Benny Chan, for everyone is invariably judging this version against Jet Li’s Shaolin Temple. Actually, I very much want to tell everyone, don’t compare, for we are not doing a remake of Shaolin Temple, we are writing a completely new story. I feel that it’s wrong for everyone to use an age old prejudice to watch this film. The earlier Shaolin Temple was only about martial arts, but in this version, we highlight humanity, describing how humanity and Buddhism could coexist with each other.

You have been doing so many action films in the past few years, is it due to interest or your desire to be an action star?
Nicholas Tse: 
Actually, I would also love to shoot some easier romance, I’ve asked Dante Lam before, why am I always getting scripts requiring me to fight, he answered very shrewdly, it’s convenient to approach you. The investors are giving you so much money, and they want someone who could act a little, looks handsome, and would work very, very hard, so difficult to find. I could do the fighting, the acting, and dying myself, isn’t that convenient? It’s due to my passion for wushu, I believe that action is also a form of body language, so I have never made any distinction between action scenes and drama scenes in any show, I feel that action scenes are equally important as my lines.

Did you specifically learn some Shaolin Kungfu for this film?
Nicholas Tse: 
I’m playing the villain here, so, it’s fine whatever ways I fight. I’m truly fond of kungfu, but I know very well myself that even if I were given 3 to 5 years, I would still not be able bring out the essence of Shaolin Fist, so I told the director right from the outset that I could never be a monk.

So, you’re employing a unique Nicholas Tse Fist?
Nicholas Tse: 
I feel that an action scene would only be most exhilarating when you display the character’s personality when fighting. After turning bad, there are changes to my fighting style too, my first aggressive strike is to kick the other person’s most vulnerable area, this is to show how lowbrow, how cheap Cao Man is. That is the kind of effect I want in action scenes.

You’re not trained professionally in martial arts since young, how do you grasp the wushu feel?
Nicholas Tse: 
Watched plenty of them, so it’s not too difficult.

Give us an introduction to your character in Shaolin.
Nicholas Tse: 
I’m playing a warlord in Shaolin, he is called Cao Man. You may say that he is Andy Lau’s right hand man, but later, my ideologies happen to conflict with his, so, I become the so-called villain. Cao Man is forever immersed in a world of his own, he only approves of his own views. Yet, while these views are wrong in the eyes of the others, he insists that he is right, and even put his thoughts into action, this is a very frightening area. Before filming began, I thought of how to act well as Cao Man, but later I discovered that, if I could turn him into someone nefarious yet pitiful, it would be the best.

What’s the biggest challenge to becoming the antagonist?
Nicholas Tse: 
Actually, I’ve always felt that Chinese films do not bring out the extremities in the villains, so, I hope to be able to play a villain that is even nastier, meaner, more lowbrow than the villains in the past, this could be the biggest challenge. While there are still many restrictions, but when the audiences are grinding their teeth, and wants this person dead, I would have succeeded.

You mentioned wanting to make him meaner, did you add some means of your own to achieving this?
 
Nicholas Tse: 
Yes, mostly have to do with the the ways I handled my lines and expressions, for example, in one scene, I’m gravely torturing, humiliating Andy Lau’s family, I added a gesture of licking his wife Fan Bing Bing’s face. Many would find this disconcerting, but this is how his character and mentality are accentuated in that very instant.

Would the biggest obstacle in this film be horse-riding?Nicholas Tse: Definitely, my nose is hypersensitive to horses, and coupled with my asthma, it became very cumbersome.

What’s your most unforgettable experience in the film?
Nicholas Tse: 
I’m especially fond of my fight with Wu Jing, and the scene I kill him, the director’s choreography of the action is very beautiful, and hitting the nail on the head, aptly capturing the Zen philosophy and mood. In another scene, I dunk Fan Bing Bing in a vat, the idea is rather unique, and I also felt that I was able to draw out that villainous feel.

What are your expectations for Shaolin?
Nicholas Tse: 
I hope to see a completely different me, perhaps, this would sound so platitudinous. I’ve always emphasised that, a good script could only be encountered but not asked for, and finally, I get to play the villain, so I hope to treasure this chance. I hope that you’d not only see a different Nicholas Tse, but also a different antagonist, one that would make you cringe, one whose warped logic could also be a logical reasoning.  East Asia Economy and Trade News

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