A dedicated husband and father, 45-year-old Ruco Chan (陳展鵬) had a rough road to stardom. Although his roots as a former Hong Kong table tennis champion are well-known, Ruco said he was also a rebellious student when he was younger.
“I was mischievous, and would check out girls instead of studying. Obviously, I didn’t break the law but I definitely partied. I would go clubbing–I’ve been to pretty much all parts of Central. We would stand in an area that was nicknamed the ‘Male Dog Corner’ and would stay the whole night and only buy one drink!” Ruco admitted in his interview with Bob Lam (林盛斌) on talk show MIB: Men in Binlo <人夫放假約出去滾>.
Working at TVB is Very Tiring
Despite his good looks, Ruco never considered being an actor and only followed classmates in entering the industry. “I was accepted by The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, but I didn’t realize that I had to pay for tuition. I had also applied for technical school at the same time, and was also teaching children ping pong. TVB’s artiste training program had also accepted my application.”
Ultimately choosing to join TVB’s training program, Ruco remembers it as an overall enjoyable experience with challenges that shaped his character. For two to three years, Ruco felt exhausted “because there was no time to sleep.” The former athlete was used to a regimen of sleeping at 11 p.m., but now found himself filming 20-hour sessions while needing to wake up at 4 a.m.
“At that time, only top tier artistes had chairs [at the filming set], so the rest of us would have to stand. Sometimes, we would be standing for 10 hours. It was hard to balance work and take care of our health during that time,” Ruco recalled his early days.
However, Ruco felt a glimmer of hope when his salary rose from $3,000 to $6,000 Hong Kong dollars per month. “This was a very high salary at the time, and I also had a lot of shows–it was to the point where I was fully booked.”
A Victim of Bad Timing
Soon, Ruco found himself at a crossroads when he was forced to choose between his acting and singing career. At the time, PolyGram Records saw that he had no management contract and wanted to sign him as a singer. Only 19 years old, he did not fully understand the difference between having a management contract or not, so he chose to sing.
As a result, all of Ruco’s television work was halted, which made him very disappointed. “I had worked at TVB for some time and wanted to develop my career in both areas, but I could only choose one. PolyGram closed down after two years, and I felt lost. I had no money, and didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to return to TVB with no achievements.
“Luckily, I met someone from a film company who gave me opportunities to film movies but they also closed down after less than a year. Those years were like an emotional rollercoaster for me. I returned to construction work during this time. At least, I was paid about HK$300 every day, and I didn’t have to deal with people’s attitude,” he said.
Fortunately, Ruco’s subsequent work at ATV made TVB sit up and notice his acting talents. Returning to TVB again in 2009, the brightest segment of Ruco’s career would start after his life experiences taught him to be a better actor.
This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.