How Francis Ng Prepares for His Roles

Triumph in the Skies 2 <衝上雲霄 II> is nearing the last segment of its broadcast, while the ratings remaining consistently high. The success for this series is partially attributed to Francis Ng’s (吳鎮宇) phenomenal acting abilities. Francis’ professionalism extends to his off-screen habits, as he obtained a pilot license after filming the original Triumph in the Skies ten years ago.

Professionalism Is Key

Francis fully prepares for his roles prior to filming. Instead of wearing the costumes the production staff gives him, Francis would always shop for his own clothes for his characters. He believes that the clothes an actor picks out for himself will bring out the character’s true potential.

Francis believed that Triumph in the Skies 2 would have been better if it had dwelled on Zoe’s (Myolie Wu 胡杏兒) death in greater detail. “Audience’s tastes in dramas have never changed. Television takes care of the general public. Sometimes it doesn’t help if an actor is very smart.  With my eyes closed, I know what will make this series even better. As originally proposed, with more scenes with Summer (Myolie Wu), adding two episodes to cover Zoe dying, or making me disappear for five episodes after the first two episodes [to mourn Zoe’s death] would make the series have more impact.”

But the staff did not want the series’ mood to become too depressing and gave Francis a number of cake baking scenes to fill the gap. And because of the cake scenes in which Francis still had the mop-like hairstyle, many audience members criticized his unattractive image. However, Francis did not mind and simply thanked Chilam Cheung’s (張智霖) presence as Captain Cool to take the viewers’ minds off his old-school hairstyle.

Professionalism aside, Francis also stated that each actor should have their own niche and different set of skills to bring to the set. “Acting is an odd profession, a lot of times the series will contain illogical storylines. For example, sadness is always evoked by killing off a character or breaking up a family – like in the scene where Sam is supposed to cry brokenheartedly over Zoe’s corpse. I decided to ask for that part to be cut short. I’m always like that with acting, even if someone tells me to do one thing, I’ll look for an unconventional method of doing it. It’s more fun that way and I don’t care if I have to shoulder the consequences if things fall apart.”

Giving A Solid Performance

Francis chose to get a pilot license not only because he had a passion for flying, but also to enable him to get into character. On set, Francis would sit by himself to prepare for the next scene and the director would warn others to not disturb his concentration.

Francis believed that acting has a psychological aspect to it. “For example, when you see a person who doesn’t appear to have anything going on, there are mental calculations inside his head. Acting is the same. When you find a role, that’s enough. You don’t have to consider whether it’s the right or wrong depiction.  We will not view ourselves everyday. As long as you become the character, you will persuade the audience.”

To ensure that projects are up to his standards, Francis also refuses to work with first-time scriptwriters or directors, believing that they are too inexperienced. He is especially adamant on having a proper script. “In the first Triumph in the Skies series, I tried becoming Sam in real life to understand the role. Then in the sequel, I simply didn’t bother reading the scripts beforehand. Since I have a fantastic memory, I’ll only try to memorize the lines before immediately going into the filming studio. I’d rather use that time to rest instead.”

Take On Fatherly Role

Francis spends a considerable amount of time talking about his son. He may be strict when it comes to teaching methods, but nonetheless, aims to have the best for his son. “I can learn a lot from him and find things that I lack myself. At times, he’s really cute and funny because he will often times play by himself. I feel as though we are quite similar because I didn’t have friends when I was younger either. Sometimes I feel like acting wasn’t the right career choice for me because I have to work with others and can’t spend time alone.”

Francis is very keen on his son’s education and will enroll him in a primary school in Hong Kong. The 51-year-old actor, who has a passion for classics, dislikes the use of simplified Chinese. Thus he would only teach his son to use traditional Chinese characters.

Francis believes that having a sense of humor is the best coping mechanism for his son to use. “Late in life, I realized that violent and non-violent [methods] are wrong. Non-violence is simply repressing one’s urges of violent tendencies. People can be very violent, but they practice non-violence. Suggesting non-violence means there is the existence of violence. Humor is a completely different level. I only knew how to use humor after growing up. Although I cannot be very humorous each time or make people understand my humor, as long as I am able to humor myself, that’s enough.”


This article is written by Su for

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  1. Ya should give Myolie more screen time or at least equal to Fala. I hate seeing Fala in almost every episode,. I want to see more of Myolie!

  2. ‘Phenomenal acting abilities’, is that really the general consensus in HK?

    I really thought his acting was and is still crap.

    1. Nope – definitely not crap! I absolutely love his acting style. He triumphs over Chilam for me too!

    2. disagree with u too.. his acting is awesome, absolutely spot on, if it wasnt because of him, i would have given up watching triumph in the skies 1 & 2

    3. His acting is good but no one is perfect. He definitely has moments when he falters too in TITS2

    4. Not sure if we are watching the same series here, but Francis Ng is clearly levels above everyone else’s acting in TITS2, including Chilam.

      1. Maybe it says more about everyone else than the acting skills of Francis Ng. As Advo said, sometimes his acting is so poor in TITS, it’s almost funny. Really don’t see what the fuss is about when many(HK)actors are much better.

      2. If Francis’ performance in TITS 2 is crap, the entire TVB studio can close down because he is the best in TITS 2.

      3. No matter how good anyone is, there is always room for improvement.

    5. Are you for real? Francis is far from crap. He’s better than Chilam and everyone else in TVB.

    6. If he’s crap, then heck no one in Hong Kong can act! There are some moments where he’s not as great, but overall he’s amazing.

  3. I really love his stubbornness. It’s this type of character which pushes for improvements. I’m glad he was able to do this because it’s quite uncommon especially in an Asian society. Asians have instilled children at an early age to respect your seniors and never argue with them. He must have endured a lot of complaints and bad mouthing when he makes those suggestions!

  4. I agree with him on teaching his son to use traditional chinese. simplify chinese is just not as beautiful and artistic writing as the classic traditional characters. Too bad nowadays everyone wants to dumb down everything! sad

    1. agree! Traditional Chinese is beautiful. The government is stupid for trying to “modernize” it because you’re basically turning your back on your ancestors, your history, and your past.

      In a sense, requiring his son to learn Traditional Chinese could be Francis’ way of teaching his son patience and to appreciate your roots.

  5. He’s basically proof that it takes more than one good actor for great ratings. Sure TITS2 have gotten OK ratings but they are seriously below expectations. 10 years in making! Sequel to very successful series! Francis Ng, the movie star! And it’s gotten around 30 to mid 30s? Meh.

    If TVB’ next series with high profile guest stars have similar script issues, they really don’t need to bother. Didn’t Ghetto Justice, THC, etc. show that they could garner OK ratings with their own in house artistes? Then why bother paying fortunes to get the likes of Francis and so on, only to get the same level of ratings anyway?

    1. Advo,
      “Triumph in the Skies 2” is very popular among mainland viewers as well. Getting big stars to appear in TVB’s productions also raise the profile of their series in mainland, which is what TVB hopes to do with the establishment of TVBC, a joint venture with local mainland stations.

      “Triumph in the Skies 2” not only benefits from the ads aired during the HK broadcast, but also features product placement within the series such as Nikon. With a big cast, it is easier to sell distribution rights to overseas broadcasting companies. Partnering with more seasoned veterans such as Francis Ng and Chilam Cheung also raise the profile of TVB’s in-house artists, which makes it lucrative in the long-term in increasing their fees. Ron Ng made a successful comeback in the series.

  6. I agree and disagree with some of his statement. why does an actor need to get into character? what does he mean really? shouldn’t you just focus on the script/lines??

    1. Of course an actor needs to get into character — after all, an actor’s job is to convincingly play the character that they are assigned to play. Any professional, experienced, ‘good’ actor will tell you that acting isn’t just about memorizing lines in a script — it’s about reading those lines, interpreting them, internalizing them, then presenting them back to us (the audiences) in the actor’s own unique way.

      Of course, each actor (and actress) ‘gets into character’ in different ways and it’s up to the actor to use which way / method works best for them….but it’s still an important component of the entire acting process…

      1. If thats how they do it. just seems complex lots psychological process, have no idea how to get into a character..

  7. I know this is off topic but anyone else in love with Nick, Coco’s ex?

    Omg – he’s just making me fall so much in love with him!!!!!

    1. Me here. Not in love, but, I really like him in TITS2. 😀

  8. That last paragraph about violence, non-violence, and humor is so inspirational!

  9. Francis Ng acting is awesome, to be honest I love him in TITS2 more chilam. love to see him with holiday.

    1. Francis is the best actor in TVB now. At first I like Chilam more too in TITS2, but after more episodes aired I like Francis better. His acting is just too brilliant! I don’t think Wayne or Roger from TVB can act to this level.

    2. Havent seens someone acting so good on TVB for very long time like Francis. He is much better then many other veteran TVB actors.

  10. Francis is very keen on his son’s education and will enroll him in a primary school in Hong Kong. The 51-year-old actor, who has a passion for classics, dislikes the use of simplified Chinese. Thus he would only teach his son to use traditional Chinese characters.

    ^ Bravo for recognizing the importance of traditional Chinese characters! I was always taught the traditional Chinese characters. And Francis’s acting is certainly better than most of TVB’s siu sangs but to say that his acting is superb above ALL TVB male artistes is a bit too much (:

    1. Francis is a veteran actor so it would be a big shame if his acting is bad. I was just watching The Young Wanderer the other day and seeing him in it as an extra just cracked me up since he was so funny in there. It shows what a long way that he has gone so it is great that he has achieved success unlike the many others that never found success and just had to quit showbiz.

      I am used the traditional characters too and still am not that used to the simplified characters. But it is great to know both.

  11. I find Francis’ answers full of himself…if an actor’s very smart…since I have a fantastic memory…

    1. You know an actor has to be confident in what he does. He has to believe in himself in order to do his task well. That’s the mantra of a good actor. Trust himself to do the job. It’s not merely a job, it’s a way of life.

  12. Haha, sounds like somebody wanted more scenes with a better actress.

    I don’t blame him. His chemistry with Myolie is much more interesting than with Fala.

    Who did Fala sleep with to get this role anyway? Honestly. Tsk tsk tsk.

  13. I dont really like Francis ng but i am absolutely in love with Sam Tong!!!!!

  14. I’m glad he took the role. I remember him from Family Squad.

  15. Fala is really not the worst actor in tits2. look at the others like kenneth ma, him law, Ron ng, plus all the other newbies like Eliza sum, Rebecca and kelly. the list is long… I find her scene with francis the best of the serie actually.

  16. Samuel Tong!!! ^_^
    He’s so much better than that Jayden, especially now that Jayden is even more annoying.

    1. Yup. Jayden is too much. He’s just a rebound, eventually he’s gonna let Holiday go.

      1. Whats interesting to note is that many seems to like Francis eventhough Chilam is supposedly the better looking one. I guess the charisma is just overwhelming xD I known I’ve always been drawn to Francis due to his acting skill and personality 😀

  17. It’s Sam Tong we see in Francis and he makes us believe that he is “Sam Tong”. And he’s so consistent like 10 years ago. All the feeling just so right with the right expression and body language. Couldn’t think of anyone could be Sam Tong except him.

  18. Correct me if I am wrong. The planes featured in this series are twin engined. Are airliners plying long hauls between HK & London & vice versa supposed to be four engine jetliners?

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