Ruco Chan’s Undying Ambition
After 17 years of ups and downs in the entertainment industry, Ruco Chan (陳展鵬) established his position through the recent release of TVB television series, The Other Truth <真相>. Once given up by the music industry and encountering difficulties at ATV, Ruco survived the difficult times through his undying spirit. There was no need to wait 18 years to be reborn as another hero. Opportunities were available for those who were well-prepared. Ruco finally awaited the opportunity to become popular.
Thirty-four-year-old Ruco Chan achieved popularity by portraying a lawyer who stepped the boundaries in The Other Truth. He continued to film series after series and was currently shooting ATF Counter Terrorism Unit <AFT反恐>, in which he was the male lead again. Allegedly, ATF Counter Terrorism Unit co-star, Ron Ng (吳卓羲), was dissatisfied with the situation and did not get along with Ruco. Whether the rumors were true or not, only popularity will attract negative rumors.
Reviewing Ruco’s news clipping file over the last 17 years, the file was very thin. For several years, the clippings were even blank. When his custom-tailored role in The Other Truth aired and gained notice, some people asked, “Why did Ruco Chan suddenly become popular?” In fact, this “suddenness” was the result of 17 years of preparation, which involved failure and pain. It was not an easy road to Ruco’s popularity.
“Recently, more friends were happy for me. Even my primary school friends and former teachers called me and teased me, ‘You got popular!’ Actually my mood is very relaxed and I did not get too excited or little carried away. Popular or not popular? In different stages of life, there are different ideas. Some people think that television series is just an assembly-line production. However, to me, this is an art. I have room for creativity in my roles. For my role in The Other Truth as a practical lawyer, I added more cheerfulness and a sitcom style of acting. During filming, I did not know how the ratings will fare and whether the audience will accept it. I did not dwell on whether I will get popular from the role. If I were interested in calculation, then I should become a market research analyst instead of an actor!”
Without Losing, How Will You Know How To Win?
Since Ruco endured the entertainment circle for many years, perhaps he felt that his moment had finally arrived? Ruco noted, “I think that the opportunity for accountability came. Prior to this chance, I missed a lot of opportunities in the past. Playing table tennis and joining the Hong Kong Table Tennis team, there should have been additional room for development. When my coach left, I also left the table tennis team. I joined TVB as an artist. When people started to recognize me, I chose to become a singer. I was floating on an empty title. Since I did not have any content and was empty inside, I was quickly abandoned. For a few years, I floated around and missed many opportunities. I did not want others to make the following judgment: ‘Since Ruco has no luck in this circle, he should just admit to losing!’ If I were to give up and leave the entertainment industry, then it would be similar to my experience as a table tennis player, in which I spent a few years time and the result was wasted. I found my direction to return to the entertainment and endured the days at ATV.
“Returning to TVB was not to compete with anyone. I need to only be accountable to myself. When I signed with TVB in 2008, there was no guarantee that I would become popular or receive opportunities. By putting in my best efforts, I was being accountable to myself.”
Despite leaving the sports world, Ruco retained the spirit of an athlete, allowing him to work tirelessly in the entertainment circle. “Some people say that I am aggressive. In a competition, an athlete will of course want to win. However, I can lose too. If you have never lost in a game before, how will you know how to win? When I was playing table tennis, I lost so many times, I grew scared. This experience trained my will and determination, thus allowing me a chance to win. Athletes recognize the heroic feats and strengths of others. This is how I get along with my friends in the entertainment industry. The fight is with your own demons. It is a competition with yourself!”
Catherine Tsang’s Support
When he returned to TVB in 2008, Ruco did not even know where to get copies of a script and required his colleagues’ assistance. It was at this time that TVB executive, Catherine Tsang (曾勵珍), asked to see him.”Catherine only said a few words, but they served as a big encouragement to me. At least high-level management knew that I existed. Catherine said, ‘You’re back! You don’t wish to be a singer anymore? Let’s focus on improving your acting first!’ Catherine’s words gave me confidence. Returning to TVB, everyone was so friendly, especially seeing the hair stylists and make-up artist colleagues ten years later who commented that I have grown up. The previous directors have risen to producers. Producer Law Wing Yin (羅永賢) was the first producer to offer me a role upon my return.”
Upon Ruco’s return, he was often cast in villain roles, in which Ruco’s image gradually remained as a villain. “In ATV, I did not have a chance to play villains; I was surprised I would have this chance at TVB. Perhaps I was too immersed in my new villain roles; my eyes took on an evil glint on an everyday basis. Producer Amy Wong (王心慰) cast me as a villain in Burning Flame 3 <烈火雄心>. The Other Truth was our third collaboration. She is my talent scout. In fact, I also like to thank other producers who gave me many opportunities. I do not mind what roles I play. Earlier, I portrayed a minor character in Forensic Heroes 3 <法證先鋒>, but I enjoyed playing different characters.”
Not An Opportunist
Some people commented that Ruco’s increasing negative rumors indicated that he was becoming popular. Rumors claim that he oiled his relationships with TVB executives and producers to increase his chances. “I am not an opportunist. If I were capable of using opportunities to my advantage, I would not have run around in a circle in the last ten years. Opportunities exist for people who are well-prepared. If I were not well-prepared, then the opportunity will slip away from my hand and unable to win it back. While quietly waiting for an opportunity, I have to continuously learn and undergo training. I have to also learn how to listen, to decrease the amount of my mistakes. Everything is cumulative. When the right opportunity arrives, I will know how to seize it.”
Inspired by Filming Movies
During his floating period, Ruco filmed a dozen movies. Ruco’s first film was Benny Chan’s (陳木勝) Big Bullet<衝鋒隊之怒火街頭>. The director personally conducted casting auditions and Ruco had three scenes in the film. “From the film world, I learned what acting meant. Frankly, I did not know anything in my early years at TVB. I left quickly to become a singer. At the time, I was honored to work with Sean Lau (劉青雲) and Jordan Chan (陳小春). Later, when I worked with Anthony Wong (黃秋生), he inspired me greatly with his infinite acting range. Sometimes it is unnecessary to act opposite him. You already benefit greatly from simply observing his performance.”
Ruco noted that each place offered different areas of learning. “At ATV, I put my learning opportunities to good use. TVB gave me the real opportunity. Both are indispensable without the other.” When asked if he never left TVB, perhaps he did not need to wait ten years to achieve popularity? Ruco smiled and said, “I can only say that without my past experiences, I would not be today’s Ruco Chan.”
Owing His Fans
Ruco has a loyal group of fans who have been following him for the past ten years. While he was at ATV, there were frequent forums discussions speculating whether he would become popular should he transfer to TVB. When he returned to TVB, fans discussed why he did not achieve popularity yet. Ruco’s fans were greatly concerned and felt injustice for him, hoping that he would achieve wider recognition. When The Other Truth aired, Ruco became popular. Each day, Ruco’s fans’ excitement grew as his TVB Popularity index rose sharply.
Ruco said, “I know fans treated me well. Before, I even felt that I owed them for their support. Currently, I can only do my best and provide accountability for their support.”
As for ensuing negative rumors, such as inability to get along with co-stars and fighting for year-end TVB Anniversary awards, Ruco said, “Only people who are noticed will have negative rumors. Male actors get along with each other on simpler and direct terms. There is no need to say a lot. After a heartfelt smile, we know that grudges were not held. As for fighting for awards, I currently have no pressure. However, if everyone continues the discussion, I don’t know if there will be an increased burden.”
Ruco was a former table tennis player. When he was 13-years-old, Ruco trained at the Jubilee Sports Academy and joined the Hong Kong Table Tennis team, appearing in overseas competitions. Reflecting on his days as an athlete, Ruco noted, “I was obsessed with playing table tennis, forgetting to sleep and eat. Every day after school, I played table tennis until 10 PM before returning home. I maintained this schedule for five to six years. I cannot say that I played very well, but my techniques were the latest. During those years, my table tennis friends were as close as ‘war buddies.’ We laughed and cried together; we lost and won games with each other. I still keep in touch with my former team mates; we still care for each other….”
From Athlete to Singer
On the spur of the moment, Ruco left the Hong Kong Table Tennis team. After graduating from high school, he applied for the TVB acting training class and was accepted. His fellow acting classmates included Hawick Lau (劉愷威) and Carlo Ng (吳家樂). Within two years of graduating from the acting class, Ruco’s achieved greater recognition. At that time, there was a chance to audition at PolyGram and he joined as a singer. Since he was an earmarked new singer, Ruco had his bright period at the time. Ruco’s old songs were available on YouTube.com. One of his songs Natural Born Ways <天性如此> featured Cathy Tsui (徐子淇), who became today’s “billionaire-daughter-in-law!”
As a singer, Ruco recorded four songs. Unfortunately, prior to the release of a personal music album, Ruco was given up by the company. Universal acquired PolyGram and his music contract was not renewed. He floated for a few years, filming movies and even became a renovation worker, earning $300 HKD per day. Due to injuries, his work was suspended. He made a standing commitment to return to the entertainment circle by joining ATV to start fresh. Six years passed quickly and Ruco came back to the same circle, returning to TVB. Often playing villain roles, he was finally cast as lead in The Other Truth. From his TVB acting training days to-date, 17 years have passed in the blink of an eye!
In Ruco’s road as an artist, his broken dreams as a singer was the first blow. Perhaps a heavier blow was his early years at ATV. Ruco described his first two years at ATV as “rough, uncomfortable, and filled with regret.”
Ruco recalled, “I joined ATV in 2001. At the time, I thought there would be greater chances and learning opportunities. I never thought that such a large organization would change bosses twice within two years. The situation was a bit chaotic. In my first two years, my work arrangements were the same as recent graduates from the ATV acting class. Despite my past experience at TVB, in the music and film industries, I continued to play cameo roles, film music videos, and was scolded unreasonably by directors. The most painful experience was that each time ATV purchased an overseas series, they would arrange the actors to wear extremely outlandish costumes and did not consider the actors’ feelings. At the time, I regretted my decision. I never felt so uncomfortable and painful.”
Revealing His Butt In An ATV Travelogue
Ruco was unwilling to recall his first two years at ATV. However, he acknowledged that this time period was the experience that honed his character the most, allowing him to ‘baptize’ himself. “Reaching this point, I endured enough! Finally, I endured past it. At the time, I felt that I had lost myself. Through this, I was able to learn more.
“Artists are very passive. Whether an opportunity arrives or not is dependent on whether they are appreciated. You can not compare with other artists and ponder why other people have more opportunities than yourself. At this time, I can only put in my entire efforts. Veteran actors encouraged me. You can not retain your self as an artist; this is the only way to immerse in a role. Gradually, others became aware of my existence and things became negotiable. As a travel program host introducing Taiwan’s hot springs, I felt it was okay to reveal my butt. Filming Kids <笨小孩>, I put in my best efforts to portray a mentally challenged individual. Gradually, there were results.”
After spending six years at ATV, Ruco felt his colleagues’ warmth. Later, production staff and seniors advised, “Ruco, it is time to leave!” So Ruco left ATV and came back to TVB, forging a different territory ahead.
Source: Ming Pao
Jayne: I enjoyed Ruco’s interview with Ming Pao immensely. This man has lived and learned from his past “failures.” I refer to them as “failures” because he was not at the point he wanted to be, as he wanted to achieve higher.
I greatly admire the inner athlete in Ruco; he possesses a fire and spirit of never giving up and enduring past difficult stages in his life. Since he played ping pong intensely when he was 13 for several years, this man knows that one loss does not equate to continual future losses. As long as he possesses the mental spirit to learn, improve his technique, and not give up in face of obstacles, victory will eventually be in sight! A very inspiring interview!
If you read Ruco’s interview closely, numerous metaphors abound where his attitude in life is shaped by his teenage experience as a table tennis athlete, where he learned about fortitude, endurance, hard work, and staying positive amidst life’s tribulations.
In the interview, Ruco referred to Producer Amy Wong as his “talent scout (伯乐),” referencing Han Yu’s (韓愈) famous writing, “世有伯乐，然后有千里马。千里马常有，而伯乐不常有。” (Only with the existence of one who recognizes talent, will talent ‘exist.’ Talent is prevalent, but one who recognizes talent is not.” I like Ruco’s reference very much! In a simple response, he conveyed his humility that there were many talented artists, yet without Amy Wong’s greater ability in recognizing his talent, his talent would not be affirmed. He conveyed his respect and gratitude for Amy while appearing humble. Again, there is that athlete-coach comparison if you think about the metaphor. Without a coach recognizing the proper athletic talent, then those athletic skills would not be put to good use.