First Lead in 13 Years, Fred Cheng Has Nothing to Lose
Provocateur <與諜同謀>, which aired it series finale last week, was Fred Cheng’s (鄭俊弘) first drama as a lead actor in his 13-year acting career. The 33-year-old, who made his acting debut in 2003, struggled as a C-list actor for years before finally becoming an overnight sensation on The Voice of the Stars <星夢傳奇> in 2013. Ironically, it was his singing career—not his acting career—that got the kickstart.
After two years of making music, Fred halted his singing career to dedicate his time on Provocateur, in which he starred alongside Gallen Lo (羅嘉良). The drama was Gallen’s first TVB serial in eight years.
Playing a vengeful youth set on taking revenge on his father, Fred’s role was generally regarded as the show’s main antagonist. “Of course I don’t think he is,” said Fred. “He does all those things for a reason, but I’ll let the viewers decide.” Fred didn’t think about his idol image while working on the show, saying, “I gave it my all. I had nothing to lose.”
It is a lot of pressure—to suddenly jump from being a minor actor to costarring a series with a veteran actor. Fred said he would be lying if he said he wasn’t stressed, but he is thankful for the support he received during the production process. “I’m really thankful to the directors for their patience in leading me,” he said. “And Gallen Gor is such a great costar to work with. If it’s only me carrying everything, I’d explode from pressure!”
Provocateur is not Fred’s first drama with Gallen. One of Fred’s first acting projects after debut was 2003’s The W Files <衛斯理>, which starred Gallen. On working with the veteran star, Fred said, “It’s so fun acting with Gallen Gor. He’s amazing. He’s not even acting. He is that person. He also helps you get in character.” (Were you scared when you first started work with Gallen?) “I was a bit. He appeared to be very cool, and really quiet. I’m like that as well. It takes me a while to warm up to people, but after you past that stage, then it’s great. He’s given me a lot of great advice.”
Too Poor to Withdraw Money from the ATM
Before his big hit in The Voice of the Stars, Fred spent years swimming through small supporting roles, often times as a background actor. With no fame, no jobs, and no money at the time, Fred felt trapped.
“Since I had nothing to do, I took some days off and returned to Canada, where I took up an acting class. My instructor, who had a master’s degree in acting, was also like me, who couldn’t land big acting roles. One day I actually asked him if he felt like it was a waste of his education, but he immediately stopped me and told me to not think that way. Our jobs as actors is to bring the character to life, regardless of how big the role is.”
Like many struggling actors, Fred also went through a period of economic difficulty. “It’s a process that we would all go through. My worst time was when I couldn’t even withdraw money from the ATM. The least you can withdraw is HK$100.”
Fred said he has to thank Provocateur producer Wong Wai-sing (黃偉聲) and The Life and Times of a Sentinel <紫禁驚雷> producer Leung Choi-yuen (梁材遠) for giving him opportunities when no other producers were interested. “Sing Gor was the first producer to give me a job after graduating from [TVB]’s acting class in 2002. Uncle Choi was the first producer to cast me in a drama after my return from Canada, and he’s saved me a spot in many other dramas after that.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.