Focusing on the mainland market in recent years, 58-year-old actor Lawrence Ng (吳啟華) made a surprise appearance on Dragon TV’s acting reality show On Air! Sitcom (lit. translation) <開播! 情景喜劇> to lend support to artistes Vincent Wong (王浩信), Owen Cheung (張振朗) and Samantha Ko (高海寧). During an interview with The Beijing News, he shared his innermost thoughts about his many years of filming.
Recognized for many iconic television characters he portrayed during his time at TVB, including medical series Healing Hands’ <妙手仁心> Paul Cheng Zhimei, wuxia drama The Heaven Sword and Crunch Sabre‘s <倚天屠龍記> Zhang Wuji and A Taste of Love‘s <美味情緣> Ma Yau, Lawrence brought many roles to life and left a deep impression on viewers. Keeping a low profile, he has hardly appeared on variety programs outside of filming, so it came as a surprise that he made an exception for On Air! Sitcom this time. Explaining his decision, he said that the performance element of the show as well as the comedic aspect were what appealed to him. Although he resisted taking part in variety programs all along as he does not think he is a funnyman, and is not particularly extroverted, he describes himself as a ‘fun-loving person’.
Discovered Passion for Comedy with “The Threat of Love”
Revealing that he had looked forward to playing exaggerated comedic characters years ago, the veteran shared that he had written a wacky comedic script as his graduation work during his artiste training class at TVB. He also recounted that working with co-star Shereen Tang (鄧萃雯) on sitcom The Threat of Love <Loving You 我愛你> back in year 2000 had ignited his love of comedy.
Giving viewers the impression of being “refined”, “decorous” and “gentlemanly”, Lawrence had actually portrayed multiple villainous characters during a prolonged period in his career. Starting from 1984’s The Other Side of the Horizon <魔域桃源>, where he played his first character with a name after graduating from artiste training class, to hit dramas The Feud of Two Brothers <流氓大亨> and The Grand Canal <大運河> as well as films like 1991’s To Be Number One <跛豪>, Hail the Judge <九品芝麻官> and more, Lawrence’s antagonistic characters have also been some of his most memorable. Once, he was even lectured on the street by a stranger due to his convincing onscreen performance, leaving him feeling helpless.
Held Out for Positive Characters
Due to his own psychological barrier, Lawrence developed a dislike of playing villainous roles. Although he knew it was only acting, he still felt unhappy about “arriving on set every day to go all out in doing evil, killing or harming others”. However, he knew each role was a chance and thus went ahead “with a thick skin”, even though he felt that he should pick the roles he liked and approved of.
Due to this insistence, there was a period during which Lawrence cut down on his filming output and took an income cut while waiting out for characters that he liked. He shared that after Hail the Judge, he decided not to take on antagonistic roles again until 1996 when he finally received a positive role – that of Wang Yi Zheng in Outburst <900重案追兇>.
His performance in Outburst so impressed its director Gary Tang (鄧特希) that he was given the opportunity to portray two heavyweight roles later in The File of Justice V <壹號皇庭5> and that of bespectacled doctor Cheng Zhimei in Healing Hands. Cheng Zhimei, a highly-skilled and serious doctor who remains loyal in love, was to become an iconic television character and the definitive ideal partner for many viewers. Humbly downplaying his own performance, Lawrence said that anyone who portray Cheng Zhimei could turn the role into a classic and thanked his drama fans for their continuous years of support.