Bobby Au-Yeung: The Finest Concoction Of 30 years
Rubber-faced veteran actor Bobby Au-Yeung (歐陽震華) has been in the television industry for more than a decade now but this year especially carried a monumental meaning in Bobby’s career as it would be marking his 30th golden year in the entertainment industry.
Bobby first stepped into the entertainment circle when he entered the TVB Artiste Training Course in the year 1981 and became a full-fledged TVB Artiste upon graduation.
The Bobby Au-Yeung Chun Wah back then was known as Bobby Au-Yeung Yiu-Tsuen (his real name) who had a full head of thick hair and was so skinny and bony to the extent that his waist was only 24 inches wide. In fact, Bobby even categorized the old him as being the likes of Danny Chan (陳百強)!
For the past 30 years, Bobby toiled hard to build a career and home of his own. Some of the milestones of his career included winning the TV King award based on his role as Sung Chee in TVB drama, Witness To A Prosecution《洗冤錄》, and being the first TVB actor to clinch a Best Actor nomination from the inaugural International Emmy Awards for his role as Chai Foon-Cheung in Dicey Business《賭城風雲》.
However, as often as it turned out, life is never a bed of roses. Like a few of his peers, Bobby wasn’t highly appreciated by TVB and suffered an unjustified fate of being coldly treated and even “dumped” by them in the past.
Fortunately for TVB, Bobby was a magnanimous person who did not have the word “resentment” in his dictionary and who chose only to remember the good virtues of his former employer.
Bearing in mind that TVB was the one who nurtured him and gave him his first taste of success, Bobby didn’t forget his roots and repaid his gratitude by taking on their drama series every year during his filming break in the Mainland.
Bobby’s star-studded classmates back in his TVB Artiste Training Course days included Tony Leung (梁朝偉) , Stephen Chow (周星馳), Francis Ng (吳鎮宇), Eddie Cheung (張兆輝), Eddie Kwan (關禮傑) and etc.
However, as the saying goes, “the road to success is never smooth-sailing and often paved with hard work and hardships”, and Bobby was no stranger to it either. Unlike his fellow classmates who seen success in becoming main male leads one after another, lady luck didn’t shine as quickly on him. Despite filming close to 30 sets of drama series within five years after his graduation, none of them could even be considered as a role for Bobby during that period of time.
Not promoted by TVB but thank goodness for the support received from the audiences
Bobby disclosed, “Back in those days, artistes who graduated from TVB had a low probability of experiencing failure hence even if I wasn’t being promoted, I could also source, on my own, for other routes to advance my career. Actually, they have a legitimate reason not to promote me as I am, after all, not as good-looking as my peers. However, thank goodness the audiences have a good taste and knew exactly how to appreciate me. Hence, I guess you could say that it’s the entire world who promoted and supported me. I’m actually a very fortunate person as the audiences have always accepted the different ranges of my performances. In fact, I don’t look jovial and humorous but they were acceptive to my comedian performances. Furthermore, they were as receptive to my acting in Forensic Heroes《法证先锋》although it wasn’t a laughable role and more towards the serious genre.”
Bobby had first experienced the limelight when the audiences gradually grew to know him through the 1986 TVB classic, The Turbulent Decade《黃金十年》.
Talking about the good old times, Bobby revealed that he would still reminisce the cast of A-list artistes gathered for that drama series, from time to time, “”The Turbulent Decade” had an all-star ensemble which included Carina Lau (劉嘉玲), Margie Tseng (曾華倩), Jaime Chik (戚美珍), Dicky Cheung (張衛健), Eddie Cheung, Eddie Kwan and etc. Actors were really aplenty in past productions. However, in today’s modern times, is it still possible to gather and place so many Siu Sangs actors and Fadans actresses all in one drama series? Very unlikely. Nowadays, they only have one Siu Sang actor and one Fadan actress starring in a drama serial. Taking this into consideration, it is thus really a rare sight that Raymond Lam (林峯) and I could be teamed up for a “double Siu Sangs actors” combination for current TVB drama, Men With No Shadows《不速之約》.”
Thankful for being dumped, which gave rise to the opportunity of venturing outside and receiving huge remuneration fees
The turning point of Bobby’s career downfall came in the form of the 1991 TVB paralegal drama, File of Justice《壹號皇庭》, which secured his place as a first line actor in TVB but it was unfortunately also the same driving force that made him leave his “maternal” employer home of over 10 years.
Bobby revealed, “At that time, after filming the first and second installments of “File of Justice”, I was starting to gain recognition from many people and received many external engagements jobs as a result. Even before my management contract with them had expired, I did discuss the details of it with the person in charge of the Artistry Department. I also requested to convert the management contract to a per-series contract but my request was instead brushed aside and ignored by the other party. The Artistry Department only said both sides should contemplate this carefully and I never heard from them ever again. I distinctively remember that I was filming File of Justice III《壹號皇庭III》back then and the last day of filming was coincidentally the day that my contract with them was due to expire. Since no one had proposed to negotiate the contract proceedings any further with me, I assumed that I should have a form of self-assessment that I was being given up! Fortunately, at that time, there was also a work opportunity offered by a Malaysia broadcasting station which specialized in “sheltering” abandoned TVB artistes hence I departed for a foreign country and stayed there for about a month or so, filming a comedy sitcom for them. It turned out to be the right choice and a rare money-spinning opportunity as I was given a filming remuneration fee of 100,000 HKD as compared to the meager monthly salary of 10,000 HKD back in TVB.”
“I sincerely would like to thank the said Artistry Management executive, who eventually did not renew my contract with me, from the bottom of my heart. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have known that the outside world was so lucrative. The payment that I gathered from the filming of movies and taped dramas when I was not in TVB was so much more, as compared to the wages I received from toiling ten years in TVB. After a while, File of Justice IV《壹號皇庭IV》subsequently started filming and I finally returned when the producer called me up to request that I re-join the original team of cast and crew. When we were discussing the contract, having seen the outside world, I was of course determined not to accept the absurd terms of filming 100 episodes in a year. We re-negotiated the terms and ultimately landed with this per-series contract up till today.”
Sees “Armed Reaction” and “Dicey Business” as his prized work
Upon his return to TVB after his brief departure, Bobby churned out quite a high volume of TVB series, acting in three to four TVB drama series a year as the Mainland market had not matured yet at that point in time.
Bobby explained, “There is a reason why TVB has been in the preeminent position of the television industry. Having shot overseas production where they were even lacking in the lighting equipment (which was considered rather essential for filming purposes), it was then that I realized that TVB had vast amounts of resources and it was precisely this advantage which allowed them to have an edge above the rest. In actual fact, I have shot many TVB serials which are my personal favorites, especially the Armed Reaction《陀槍師姐》installments. My role in there as “Chan Siu-Sang” had helped me to break into the Mainland market and solidified my image as a good son, husband and father all at one go. In actual fact, this role was exceptional as the character was already 100% good but through my acting, it only became even better; 101% good! I’m thus especially thankful to the producer behind “Armed Reaction”, Kwong Yip Sang (鄺業生), such that I call him my benefactor whenever I see him.”
“Dicey Business” was another masterpiece of Bobby’s pride and joy; Bobby strongly recommended it as a drama series that everyone should watch, even till this day.
Bobby implied, “Earlier on, a fan of mine gave me a full DVD set of the “Dicey Business” drama series and I anxiously sat through it and repeatedly watched it for two consecutive nights. Some of my scenes in there were indeed spectacular such that I even wept while watching it as I was simply too moved for words. The script for “Dicey Business” was already a rarity on its own as it was uniquely written such that the characters developed the story right from the start, which was a refreshing change from the usual clichéd ordinary dramas where the storyline just steers the entire drama. “Dicey Business” was outstanding in its own way as I didn’t even need to change the script and could just slip into character very naturally.”
Explicitly sung the praises of Myolie Wu and Sire Ma
“Speaking about the new breed of actors and actresses, Bosco Wong (黃宗澤) had already performed well when we collaborated together for “Dicey Business”. However, after watching Lives of Omission《潛行狙擊》, I feel that he has indeed shown a marked improvement in his acting skills. During the beginning of this year, I recognized that Myolie Wu‘s (胡杏兒) performance in The Rippling Blossom《魚躍在花見》was a complete breakaway from her past performances. In the past, people laughed at her for carrying a “gwing” expression [a Cantonese phrase where the face is distorted such that the person looks like a cross between laughing and crying] however she has now became much more prettier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is due to the effect of plastic surgery but it is rather more of a case that her facial features have opened up. Apart from Bosco and Myolie, I also highly nominate Sire Ma (馬賽), who acted as my younger sister in “Men With No Shadows”, as the hot contender for this year’s “Most Improved Female Artiste” award. Sire is also a really filial and diligent girl who doesn’t like to deliberately induce any form of rumors.”
Bobby had, in fact, just collaborated with Myolie and Sire this year for upcoming TVB drama, Yue Fu’s Hidden Dragon《樂府藏龍》, which was one of the representatives of his gratitude towards TVB throughout the years. Shooting an ancient periodic drama in a sweltering humid climate had proved to be quite a chore for Bobby. His highest record was changing five pieces of undershirt and two pairs of underwear as they were all repeatedly soaked in sweat whilst filming under such extreme temperatures.
Staying true to his humorous nature, Bobby joked that he only accepted that drama series as he was presented with the attractive opportunity of working alongside a bunch of young female costars. Bobby continued to mock that the Fadans that were arranged to be paired up with him have been getting younger and younger over the years, especially considering the likes of Myolie Wu and Linda Chung (鍾嘉欣), thus receiving glances of envy from his fellow colleagues.
Bobby also brought up a comical incident which occurred when he bumped into his frequent onscreen partner, Yoyo Mung (蒙嘉慧), in the makeup room. He had apparently good-naturedly teased Yoyo that given the high turnover rate of his young costars, she might have to act as his stepmother for any of their future collaborations!
Bobby feels like a toad in a bottomless well as compared to the actors in Mainland
Last year, after concluding filming for Men With No Shadows, Bobby immediately went on to film three Mainland dramas at one go, including the ancient periodic drama sequel, Ghost Catcher 2《天師鍾馗II》, as well as the series, The Female Constable《帶刀女捕快》, that he had collaborated with Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼). It was known that because filming of ancient periodic dramas could prove to be an extremely strenuous affair, the drama team would always set up a cattle horn fan to welcome him on board.
Bobby defined, “It is almost a necessity for me to film ancient periodic dramas as the demand for them caters to almost 50% of my workload. I don’t care even if you say that I’m a workaholic or a money-grubber but I would not let any opportunity slip by, even if it meant that I might have to slog my guts out. In a nutshell, as long as I’m designated one to two weeks to rest and recharge my “battery”, a filming period of eight to nine months in a year is still considered manageable. Collaborating with the Mainland actors has made me feel that I’m like a toad in a bottomless well as compared to them. For example, for the recent sequel to “Ghost Catcher”, we were honored to have the inclusion of guest star Pan Changjiang (潘長江), who is known to be a top-notch actor and film producer in China and the commensurate of Mainland’s answer to Eric Tsang (曾志偉). In short, he is a highly influential media personnel and an established household name in China. As such, each and every of us have the utmost respect for him.”
A thespian is not like a crumpled leaf that is meant to be trampled on
When the topic of veteran thespian actors was brought up, Bobby’s frivolous tone suddenly tuned solemn.
Bobby elaborated, “I feel that there is a serious lack of respect for veteran actors here in Hong Kong, such that utilitarianism choices are often made, with the intent of sacrificing some people to maximize the greatest benefits for others while clearly disregarding whether it would be detrimental to the former. It perplexes me why thespian actors are being referred to as “licorice” and “fallen leaves” when they are in fact a bunch of seasoned actors who are well-versed in their acting skills! In that case, why are they being viewed as the appetizers to a main course or condiments to a main dish [Bobby meant minor supporting characters] then? Let me ask you this, do you think it would be permissible if someone was willing to write a drama based on the elderly and cast experienced actor, Bowie Wu (胡楓), starring as the main lead in it? Well, I think it should be permitted! Just look at “Deanie-Jie” Deanie Ip (葉德嫻) , she acted as an old domestic helper in the movie, A Simple Life《桃姐》, but managed to snag a Best Actress award from the Venice Film Festival based on that role thus bringing honor to Hong Kong!”
Bobby mentioned that someone had earlier on suggested that he should take on the job of a producer so that he could produce some drama series of his own. Bobby remarked that it wasn’t going to be a difficult task if he needed to source for financial backers who were willing to invest. However, he hasn’t entertained thoughts of it yet as his current passion still lies in acting in front of the camera rather than working behind the scenes. The Mingpao reporter then asked Bobby whether he would resign to his fate if he was, one day, arranged to play second fiddle to the main leads in future drama series.
“At that time, I would probably already have been a film producer who churns out my own series to curb the acting bug in me! If you meant asking me to play second fiddle to the main lead in terms of an uncle role, of course I wouldn’t do it. Want to cast me as Raymond Lam’s father? I would suggest to them to try casting Ron Ng (吳卓羲) as Raymond’s father! Hahaha!”
[Caption: Transitioning from Bobby Au-Yeung Yiu-Tsuen to Bobby Au-Yeung Chun Wah through his 30 golden years in the entertainment industry, Bobby’s name, hair and body shape might have changed but his joyous personality and unwavering gratitude towards TVB has not changed the slightest bit]
[Caption: Chan Siu-Sang’s devotion and affection for “Er-jie” Chu So Ngo (portrayed by Esther Kwan (關詠荷)) in TVB classic drama, “Armed Reaction”, has helped him to solidify his image as a good man of the 20th century]
[Caption: Bobby joked that it was the draw of being able to collaborate with multiple young female costars that prompted him to accept filming ancient periodic drama, “Yue Fu’s Hidden Dragon”, despite knowing that it would meant filming in severely humid conditions]
More than happy to be his wife’s money-growing tree
Looking back at the past data and records, it was discovered that this year was Bobby’s 15th wedding anniversary with his wife, Fu Kit Han (傅潔嫻). Bobby had, at that time, discreetly married his wife in a low-key wedding back in Canada.
Bobby responded, “To be more precise, our wedding anniversary falls on the 25th of this November. I would unfortunately be busy filming away in Mainland on that day hence I did not plan any form of special celebration for our anniversary this year. I am actually my wife’s money-growing tree hence work is definitely more important. However, I might give her a house (樓) as an anniversary gift.”
As it turned out, the usually wacky Bobby had humorously twisted the pronunciation of the word and truly meant giving his wife a “button” (Editor’s note: Bobby had pointed to the button on his blouse and laughed while saying that he would give his wife a house) and not a “house”. Jokes aside, Bobby took on a more sober approach and clarified that he wouldn’t be confused about the date of their wedding anniversary, even reiterating twice that it was indeed the 25th of November.
Memorized the date of his wedding anniversary from the back of his mind
Bobby protested, “We are already such an old couple now. Whenever there is time, we would love to go around finding for food and looking for fun things to play. Even if there was spare time from filming, special occasions like our wedding anniversary are usually spent meeting our close friends for some dinner together. We absolutely would not put on some tuxedo and evening gown and cut some wedding cake in front of everyone to commemorate our wedding anniversary. Besides, my wife doesn’t like attending such social events in the first place.”
Whenever Bobby’s wife is brought up by the media, it was inevitable that they would touch on her intriguing title as the granddaughter of the first generation Macau Gambling King, Fu Laorong (傅老榕). Although it has been 15 years since news of their secret wedding was exposed, the media still continued to harp relentlessly on the issue and persisted in labeling Bobby as a son-in-law that had married into riches thus frequently landing Bobby on the cover of magazines out there. Fortunately, it had no longer proved to be a form of hindrance to Bobby in recent years.
Bobby self-divulged that all his earnings are given to his wife hence Mrs Au-Yeung was truly the one who hold the purse-strings in the household. Knowing perfectly well that he was not an expert in managing his finances, Bobby professed that he was happy enough being his wife’s money-growing tree. Bobby smugly added, “As you can tell, I have already been shaken until I have become visibly thinner and lost my initial prosperous body shape!”
[Caption: During Bobby’s birthday celebration earlier this year, apart from having his wife [second from left in the photo above] to celebrate it with him, he also invited Marianne Chan (陳妙瑛) who acted as his onscreen wife in the past [first from left in the photo above] and Jessica Hsuan (宣萱) [first from right in the photo above] to share his happiness with them]
Bobby Au-Yeung doesn’t have the problem of a generation gap with fellow co-star Raymond Lam
Despite “Men With No Shadows” being Bobby Au-Yeung and Raymond Lam’s first collaboration together, there was no sense of unfamiliarity between them. This was because they have, in actual fact, been close friends and brothers, on a personal level, for a long time now. However, to their surprise, they shared as much chemistry on-screen as they do, off-screen, in real life.
Praises Raymond Lam for having a high EQ
“Raymond Lam is actually a person who is cool-headed in any type of situation. He is one who is persistent in poise and pace, such that no one could disrupt his “rhythm” as he is always in a calm and collected manner. I have worked on the film set with him before and usually when I’m slightly late, I would deliberately estimate and start running to the filming location when I’m approximately twenty steps away and pant to let everyone know that I had tried my best to rush here. Raymond, on the other hand, is a stark contrast from me. Raymond wouldn’t run even if he was just a mere 20 steps away from the film set as he wants to carry himself off like a model in front of everyone. Through this, like me, one really can’t tell that Raymond has a high EQ (emotional quotient) but I can tell you that he does indeed have a high EQ! It is especially evident when Tavia Yeung (楊怡) bantered him and said, “Raymond Lam, how much longer do you want me to wait for you to get to the film set? I have already waited for you for what feels like a decade!” To which, Raymond didn’t utter a word but only smiled in response to it.”
“When filming a drama series, it is understandable to be slightly later than the stipulated time. Just as everyone was packing up to go home and rest after filming overnight, Raymond instead turned and said to me, “Wah! Good lah, you can go home and rest now! I still have to rush down to the movie set and continue filming!” It was then that I realized that apart from shooting “Men With No Shadows”, Raymond was filming two other movies back-to-back. Besides that, Raymond also had to take spare time out of his hectic schedule to practice and rehearse for his concert. Seeing him in this fatigue state, I feel exhausted for him too!”
It was known that Bobby has no generation gap with the younger Siu Sangs actors such that even before they had collaborated on “Men With No Shadows”, Raymond had already introduced Bobby to his then-girlfriend, Mavis Pan Shuang Shuang (潘霜霜). Apart from Raymond, Bobby also gets along well with the other younger generation of Siu Sangs actors which include Ron Ng, Joel Chan (陳山聰) and etc. Asked whether Ron and Joel had introduced their respective girlfriends, Viann Zhang (張馨予) and Florinda Ho (何超雲) to him, Bobby kept his lips sealed and only laughed out loud, “No, they didn’t!”
Bobby continued to joke, “Honestly speaking, the younger batch of Siu Sangs actors love finding me to horse around with them but I actually prefer playing around with the younger batch of Fadans actresses! Hahaha!”
Source: Mingpao, bbs.163.com
This article was translated by Ah K, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.