Ruco Chan (陳展鵬) arrived at the studios for the cover shoot of Classic Magazine on time, and quickly pulled out a few sets of eyeglasses of all shapes and sizes. As he was deciding the pair to wear for his photo shoot, he amusingly said, “People say I look courteous and gentlemanly when I wear glasses, and I would be able to convincingly portray lawyers and doctors. But once I take them off, I would look menacing. I could go from being a lawyer to a police inspector, and even to a gangster! Haha!” Ruco still behaves like a big boy, and for a TVB actor who was known for portraying convincing villainous characters, witnessing a playful Ruco is a surprising spectacle.
The crew members of the photo shoot gasped at Ruco’s toned figure when he took off his jacket. The stylist herself was worried that the attire she chose for Ruco would be too small of a fit. Ruco bowed his head humbly and said, “I’m not as muscular as I used to be. Earlier, I had to train for a drama, but I’ve lost a lot of that muscle already!”
When the money comes, the time goes. A few days after completing his scenes for Brother’s Keeper <巨輪> in January 2013, Ruco had to toss away his 90s suit for a light-weighted t-shirt for Outbound Love <單戀雙城>, a romantic comedy drama that is currently filming in Malaysia. Ruco barely has the time to eat or sleep. Not having muscular arms is the least of his concerns.
The 36-year-old actor debuted in the industry when he was just 17 years old in 1994. He was a graduate of TVB’s acting training class, had starred in films, and even took a small quavering step into the music industry when he turned 21 years old. But not all stars stay bright, and before Ruco could release his debut album, his music label closed down and filed for bankruptcy. Ruco was left jobless, and in 2002, he finally decided to sign with TVB’s rival station, ATV.
Ruco stayed with ATV for the next six years. The singer-actor did not regret the time he spent with Hong Kong’s least popular television station, expressing that his days with ATV were “very educational.”
“There were definitely times when I would look back to the past and think about all the mistakes and wrong decisions I had made. But if it wasn’t for that past, I would never have been able to achieve all the things I have achieved today.”
After signing under TVB’s management in 2008, Ruco felt overwhelmed and intimidated. “My first thought was – I’m finally home. But I was very scared. After all, it has been a long, long time since I had last been with TVB. My old friends and colleagues may not remember me anymore, and I kept asking myself – was I really ready for this?
“I still remember how starstruck I felt when I first walked into the TVB makeup rooms. Everyone around me were famous celebrities. As a returning member of the TVB family, I had strange feelings of familiarity and unfamiliarity. Fortunately, my colleagues treated me well. None of them really minded your background, but we all shared one common thing mind – to do our utmost best in our jobs.
“The most touching moment of my return [to TVB] was when I met an old friend, a costume stylist whom I first met when I was still a trainee with TVB. The stylist is still working for TVB after all these years. When she saw me, she immediately said, ‘So you’re back? That’s great!’ It was very heartwarming.”
The Evil One
It was one role – Keith Lau in 2011’s The Other Truth <真相> – that propelled Ruco to leading actor stardom. “It was definitely a role that I have always dreamed of doing. Keith is a professional; he is very noble, just, and humanizing. I am thankful of producer Amy Wong (王心慰) for trusting me and giving me a chance to play such a wonderful character.”
But before Ruco’s Keith Lau fame, he was well-known for being one of TVB’s “stock” actors to portray villainous roles.
“Once, my mother had a serious conservation with me about whether or not I really looked evil. Why else would I have to play so many villainous characters? Maybe I’m just too good at being evil!” Ruco laughed.
“To be honest, I never minded about playing the villain. Those who truly enjoy acting would want to play a role that is challenging and rewarding, and playing evil isn’t a very easy thing to do. But I was also beginning to notice that most of my roles were villainous ones, and in the end I couldn’t stop myself from asking the producers if I really looked that evil!”
Universally praised for being one of TVB’s most talented siu sangs, Ruco’s acting skills are critically lauded. Ruco creates Best Actor buzz with every television drama he stars in, most recently in Reality Check <心路GPS>.
“I’ve been in this industry for 18 years. Acting requires devotion, but more importantly, it also requires experience. If I didn’t experienced anything in life, how would I be able to understand how a certain character should be portrayed? Now that I have the experience, I am able to learn how to become my character.”
Many TVB stars have left the station to pursue a career in mainland China, in film, as well as commercial endorsements. Will Ruco do the same?
“We all have our own target. Of course, I would also like to have the chance to pursue other things. No matter how many roads I would end up walking on, I would always return to acting. My father had taught me that I should not live my life for money, but for myself. I still hold onto this belief.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.