Alex Man (萬梓良) was a household name in the 1970s and 1990s among Hong Kong drama viewers. After appearing in 1995′s Down Memory Lane <萬里長情>, Alex left the Hong Kong entertainment industry at the peak of his career to establish his own apparel business. Acting remained as his true passion and two years ago, Alex Man returned to flex his acting power once again.
The 54-year-old Golden Horse Film Award Best Actor was known for his passionate nature and dynamic onscreen performances. In the 1970s, Alex Man joined RTV and starred in many memorable historical dramas, such as Dynasty <大內群英>. Portraying the role of Emperor Yongzheng when he was only 23 years old, Alex Man’s charisma left a deep impression among the audience.
Earlier, Wayne Lai (黎耀祥) professed that as a child, he had grown up watching Alex Man act in television dramas. Wayne saw Alex Man as the eternal TV King due to his stellar acting. Many fans of Hong Kong entertainment will agree, as Alex was a powerhouse actor with a rich legacy.
An Unbridled Passion
In The Feud of the Two Brothers <流氓大亨>, Alex gave one of the most memorable tearjerker scenes opposite Carol Cheng (鄭裕玲) in TVB history. The Feud of the Two Brothers was directed by Jonathan Chik (戚其義) and it turned out that scriptwriter Wai Ka Fai (韋家輝) was unable to pen the ending scene due to lack of inspiration.
Bravely, Alex rose to the occasion and promised the producer to write the memorable lines in the final scene of The Feud of Two Brothers. Alex said, “I had acted in episodes 1 to 29 of the drama, thus I understood the content well. I wrote the entire final scene, including the line, ‘So what?’ Carol’s tears in the scene were included in the script because we wanted an open ending.”
Allegedly, costar Carol Cheng was uncertain what to expect during the filming. Despite amassing a fortune at the end of the drama, Alex’s character was unable to resusitate his wife, Carol Cheng, who had fallen into a coma. Alex’s tears rolled down his cheeks and his voice trembled at the fear of losing his wife.
It was Alex’s passionate energy that allowed him to embody the characters he portrayed. He applied the same passion in all pursuits of life. After starring in TVB drama, Big Family <大家族>, in which he portrayed a wealthy businessman, Alex had a strong desire to start his own business. In 1995, he retired from the entertainment industry to establish a men’s apparel business in mainland China. At the height of the company’s success, there were 61 retail stores. The number has since dwindled down to 3 stores.
Alex recalled that while growing his apparel business, he had to go drinking with business partners every night. “In one year alone, I drank more than ten years’ worth of alcohol!” Admitting that his apparel business was currently nearing its concluding stage, Alex said, “The production costs are growing increasingly expensive. It is very difficult to maintain in the long-term. Then it is best to reduce the operations and maintain only 2 or 3 stores for interest. I do not owe any debts. My financial situation is not a problem!”
Turbulent Love Life
Born under the astrological sign of Leo, Alex possessed intense emotions, loving fiercely in his relationships. In the 1980s, Alex dated Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯), when she was only 18 years old. Sheren later described Alex as a father figure and mentor in their romantic relationship, in which she had yearned for paternal love due to growing up in a single-parent household.
In the 1990s, Alex married and divorced Taiwanese actress, Tien Niu (恬妞). He later married, divorced, and remarried his current wife of 10 years, with whom he has a 9 year old son together.
A Mother’s Love
The last twenty years have etched wrinkles on Alex’s face, turned his hair gray, and thickened his waistline. Aside from experiencing three marriages, Alex was most shattered by his mother’s death. Growing up in poverty without his father’s presence, Alex and his three elder sisters were raised by his mother and maternal grandmother. With his sisters’ earnings, Alex had the opportunity to pursue a tertiary education. After taking 5 months of classes, Alex dropped out due to the burdensome costs.
Alex said, “My brother-in-law has a restaurant in Great Britain and invited me to study there. But I did not wish to leave my mother and grandmother, thus I joined an acting training class instead.”
In her senior years, Alex’s mother’s diabetes advanced, in which the doctor warned that amputating her leg was necessary. Mrs. Man refused and several days later, she died in her sleep.
Alex said, “In my life, I felt the most helpess when my mother died. I became numb and did not film any projects for 3 years. From the time I was born until her death, we had lived together. My biggest regret is that my mother died in December 2002 and my son was born in February 2003. It is quite a mystery. One life ends and a new life is born. Her greatest wish was to have a grandson before she died. I regret that I was unable to fulfill her last wish. Her wish was not that difficult to fulfill; do you know how I felt as her son?”
A Father’s Love
Alex’s son was currently 9 years old. Alex enjoyed telling his son about his own childhood experiences, hoping to lend his wisdom. The pair played sports and engaged in outdoor activities together. His son will play the guitar while Alex sings. “I am very satisfied that I have a warm family, a good wife and a son!” Asked what aspirations he had for his son, Alex laughed, “Health always comes first! We can talk about other things later!”
Alex’s blood sugar levels were high and he was pronounced as a diabetic. He was required to adhere to a strict diet with low sugar intake. However, he did not quit his smoking habit. He continued to smoke one-and-half pack of cigarettes each day.
Laughing frequently throughout the interview, Alex maintained that he was cheerful in nature and easy to get along with. He denied the past explosive image that the Hong Kong media had bestowed upon him.
Happy to Work With Younger Actors
Returning to acting in 2010, Alex has appeared in mainland drama, The Years of the Proud Sun <歲月驕陽>, theatrical production The Devil’s Contract <魔鬼契約> and recent film The Bounty <懸紅> portraying Fiona Sit’s (薛凱琪) father. Alex said, “I always enjoyed working with young artists, which can stimulate an aging mind.”
Despite the upcoming television wars between local stations, Alex said that he has not been invited by TVB or City Telecom (CTI) to appear in their dramas. Alex said that the new competitive environment in the Hong Kong television industry was beneficial. “The pie should be shared by everyone. I have seen many television wars in the past. It is the most important to produce dramas that suit the audience’s tastes. Dramas are the ‘main course’ for television stations. Dramas are hotly discussed by people because watching acting performances is a basic joy.”
Alex Man has delivered impressive performances that thrilled audiences for decades. Similiar to his Chinese name, “Chi Leung,” which meant the finest timber suitable for the emperor’s use, Alex Man represented the best among the best actors in Hong Kong entertainment history.
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Jayne: I hope this Alex Man article brought you down RTV and TVB’s memory lane. Alex is one of my favorite actors, due to his dynamic energy and explosive charisma. His love for acting is clear in all his acting performances. Many fans liked Chow Yun Fat in the 1980s, but my favorite actors from that period are Alex Man and Felix Wong.
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