In 1991, the seven-year old Xie Miao was brought by his parents to Beijing Haiding Centre for Children, in the hope that he’d be a dancer. However, the little Xie Miao, roving his eyes about, peered around.
Then, he spotted through an ajar door, a room with kids wielding spears and broadswords, it was a sight to behold, holding the hyperactive kid spellbound. Against his parents’ objection and protests, he signed up for the wushu class next door.
“Raise higher, some more, bend down, yes, support your chin.” At the command of his coach Zhao Hui Ming, Xie Miao followed the instructions without questions, even if tears were forming in his eyes. This is stretching, every kid has to go through this, and is extremely excruciating. Had it been other kids, they would have cried out loudly already.
In 1993, Wong Jing arrived at the school, “He’s my first benefactor,” says Xie Miao. Wong Jing was looking for kids to appear in his upcoming movie New Legend of Shaolin.
Many kids were asked to perform in front of him, yet none of them touched Wong Jing’s heart. When it ws Xie Miao’s turn, he performed a Long Fist routine, making many wrong moves. Xie Miao was rather embarrassed. Unexpectedly, Wong Jing said, “It’s him. Come for audition a few days later.”
Initially, the role Xie Miao was auditioning for was the rich kid, but Xie Miao, who came from an ordinary family, did not possess such aristocratic disposition. With a flicker of the mind, Wong Jing asked him to try the role of Hung Man Ting. When he first made his entrance, everyone was shocked, that icy cold and piercing expressions in his eyes, that unyielding nature, that Hung Man Ting who’s saddled with the burdens of deep-rooted vengeance fitted him like hand in glove
Later, Wong Jing told Xie Miao, that he picked him was due to the expressions in his eyes.
Jet Li Scares Him
On the set, the 9-year-old Xie Miao met the 30-year-old Jet Li. Back then, Xie Miao had no inklings of Shaolin Temple, he only watched Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. On seeing Jet Li, he wasn’t particularly contained, his only impression of New Legend of Shaolin was the opening scene whereby he stood on Jet Li’s shoulder, feeling a little awkward.
Wong Jing was very smart, the scenes he arranged most for Xie Miao were his eyes, it’s a body language. This was to avoid confounding Xie Miao with too many lines. And, indeed, the film was a big hit.
Yet, on a more personal level, there was a wide gap between Jet Li and Xie Miao. Jet Li was quite distant, didn’t talk much, nor joke around; on the set, he would dressed very formally, and would only show his emotions when filming, and even treated Xie Miao in the same manner. As such, though Xie Miao called him Father in the film, he was afraid to get close to him, and would give him a wide berth.
12 years later, on recollecting the past, Jet Li admitted his aloofness, with slight awkwardness, back then; he accepted several different projects simultaneously, and was already very tired, and didn’t have time to humour kids.
However, a year later, in Wong Jing’s My Father, the Hero, the two met again, playing father and son again. After being through with New Legend of Shaolin, the two got to know each other better, and this time around, Jet Li bonded better with Xie Miao.
Once, during a break on the set, Jet Li especially drove to buy some Peking dishes for Xie Miao, who didn’t like Hong Kong dishes. This was Xie Miao’ first square meal. All of sudden, he did not find his father too be that terrifying after all.
The two got closer to each other. When he’s tired after filming, Jet Li would call for his son Xie Miao to massage his back. He would tell every how filial his son was, giving him a great massage.
The Amiable Chow Yun Fat Gave Him Red Packet
As opposed to Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat was more amiable. This was Xie Miao’s feelings in God of Gamblers Returns. Everyday, on the set, when not in front of the camera, Chow Yun Fat, dressed casually in T-shirt and Bermudas, would wander around the set, chatting with the crew.
One particular incident remains clearly in Xie Miao’s mind. On that day, the production was heading towards a mountain for filming, and the jeep was stuck while crossing a stream, and the rocks must be cleared before the jeep could proceed. And everyone, rolling up their trousers, began moving the rocks. Unexpectedly, Chow Yun Fat jumped out of the jeep, removed his shoes and waded the stream, joining everyone in shifting the rock. Over ten minutes later, the rocks were cleared, and Chow Yun Fatt, who was perspiring and hair dishevelled, laughed out good-naturedly, without any airs at all.
On the set, Xie Miao and Chow Yun Fatt got along especially well, and he often brought Xie Miao around to have fun, and even sneaked out with him to Victoria Harbour to admire the sea view, keeping it all from the production.
After finishing God of Gamblers Returns, Xie Miao’s contract with Wong Jing ended, and he returned to school. Chow Yun Fatt was loathe to see him go, and told him, “Be obedient to your parents, study hard, and don’t disappoint me. This is my little gesture.”
And he gave Xie Miao a red packet, containing HK$5 thousand.
Following the Footsteps of Father’s First Film
Towards the end of 2005, 12 years later, the grown-up Xie Miao and his international action super star “father” met on CCTV’s World Movie Tour, the “father and son” hugged each other warmly, and Jet Li enquired, “What do you intend to do after graduation?”
To which Xie Miao replied, “To do films, martial arts films.”
Xie Miao’s wish was granted in 2006, when Henan TV was going to shoot Legend of Shaolin Kungfu, a major TV series on Shaolin Temple. The production found Xie Miao, who had just graduated. After going through the script, he accepted the role immediately.
This year, apart from Legend of Shaolin Kungfu 2, Xie Miao also did Tsui Siu Ming’s martial arts movie Champions, playing Dicky Cheung’s buddy, training together with him towards the goal of representing China. Golden Eagle Daily