It’s like being reborn from the ashes for Michael Tong (唐文龍), who finally has a role that people can recognize him in after going through 20 years of playing forgettable supporting characters.
The 48-year-old actor was brought back to the limelight after starring in the TVB anniversary drama Heart and Greed <溏心風暴3>, in which he played opposite Sharon Chan (陳敏之), with whom his character has an affair with.
The past 20 years hasn’t been easy for Michael, who at one point in his life lived with a meager monthly salary of HK$4,000. He even lived in a small subdivided flat which he payed HK$1,800 a month for, and ate only fast food.
Now that Michael has made a strong return to the industry, the Heart and Greed actor said he has to thank his close friend Raymond Cho (曹永廉) for being his biggest supporter, especially during the days he struggled financially. Michael told reporters that Raymond knew he didn’t have money for food, so Raymond would always be around to treat him to meals.
Raymond said he’s very happy with Michael’s success today, saying, “We’ve been friends for over 25 years. There’s nothing to fuss over about. (Michael said you always treated him to food.) Whoever has the money would do the treating! Sometimes I earned more, so I would treat him to a hundred-dollar pizza. When I’m not earning as much, then we’d eat some food for a couple dollars at a cafe. I’m so happy for his success today, but as a brother, I worry for him. He’s had a lot of ups and downs [in his career], and he’s not much of a saver either. When he has the money, he tends to spend all of it. He’s pretty cheap when it comes to food, but when it comes to his friends, he is not cheap at all. He once gave me a clay pendant that had my zodiac animal etched on it. It was at least HK$10,000. I’ve been keeping it well.”
As for the stories of his struggles, Michael, who is currently in Beijing, said, “That happened in the 90’s. I’m sure many artists have had similar experiences before, and honestly, I miss the days when I would just eat fish balls and sing karaoke. It’s true that Heart and Greed has gotten a lot more people to notice me, and honestly, I feel like a dinosaur fossil, like people have just dug me up now to observe me. Everyone’s gotten a lot more curious!”
As for his friendship with Raymond, Michael said, “He really took care of me and watched me grow! I’ll never be able to repay that!”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.