Since leaving TVB in 2010, Sammul Chan (陳鍵鋒) has slowly but surely built a successful career in mainland China. With nearly 5 million fans on Weibo, Sammul is certainly one of the most in-demand actors of his generation. Despite this, he remains humble and diligent, willing to put in utmost effort to achieve perfection on the set. At a recent interview, Sammul spoke extensively about his professional attitude and discussed the consequences of his fervent attention to details.
Sammul began his career in the entertainment industry after being recruited as a radio DJ. At 19, Sammul entered TVB, and in a few years’ time, became one of the station’s top young actors. Although his popularity continued to rise, Sammul received limited screen time and promotional opportunities since he did not sign a management contract with TVB. Displeased by the company’s contract policies, Sammul left the station when his contract expired in late 2010. Since then, Sammul has been active in China and has starred in several notable mainland productions.
Suffering Through Hardships
While his career climb seems smooth and easy on the surface, Sammul admitted that he had to navigate through some difficult moments. “There were many things you wouldn’t show to others. Soon after I debuted, I went to Taiwan to record a music album. Unfortunately the economy took a downturn and my album was never released. I was very upset at the time. Also, there were problems at work sometimes and that would make me unhappy…. I felt very troubled and was under a lot of stress. Workplaces have office politics; that also occurs in our industry.”
Despite the hardships, Sammul continued to move forward fearlessly and eventually learned how to stay sane in a sometimes hostile industry. “I am pretty relaxed in most situations, but I am also really stubborn regarding certain things. I am very strict about my bottom line. For example, if you say that there is not enough filming time today and ask for my assistance, I would gladly say yes. However, if we have agreed to two additional hours, then I will only give you two more hours. Otherwise, what is the point of signing a contract? If there is a lot more to film, you can wait until tomorrow. I insist on standing by my principles.”
Sammul’s Habits Are Not Always Well Received
Although his stubbornness is a valued asset, it sometimes does more harm than good in Sammul’s professional relationships. When his manager Ivy praised him for his professionalism, Sammul repeatedly said, “I am such a nuisance!” Explaining the negative result of his stubborn nature, Sammul said, “I am someone who insists on high standards. I would never release anything that I find unsatisfactory. Because of this, I really do not want to deal with social relationships. I’d rather spend my time thinking about the script or discussing it with my colleagues. This is why some actors dislike me. For example, when I am filming a depressing scene, I would maintain that mood for the entire day, sitting quietly aside. Others find me very strange and difficult to understand.”
Some of Sammul’s colleagues did not even bother to hide their displeasure. “Once, a colleague was filming a wide shot and said, ‘Fung Gor, we stood here with you for a very long time. We are all very tired. I need to go rest, you go ahead and stand all you want!’ I feel that I should watch others film so that I can better understand their reaction. I would then know how to adjust my reactions or expressions when it is my turn to film. If you go to sleep instead [of watching others film], would you know your colleague’s reaction when it is your turn? I don’t want to miss out on these opportunities. I am just showing respect for my profession.”
While Sammul maintains his stubbornness out of a sense of professional duty, there is actually a more personal reason for giving his all. “Even though a shot may last for just a minute, it will remain decades in history. Your sons and grandsons will watch it. Receiving decades of criticism over a moment of laziness, is that worth it?”
Aside from his acting career, Sammul also obsessively puts in a lot of time and effort on financial planning. “I am very cautious, this is probably related to the fact that I am a Taurus. I would invest in many saving plans. I began this habit many years ago, and would purchase a plan every five years. When you are old, wouldn’t it be great to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars every few years? If I have children or if unexpected things happen, I can easily withdraw money for use. That is why young people should save some money whenever they can, no matter how difficult it may be.”
With a rising career in China and a steady income stream, some may think that Sammul is no longer interested in returning to his native Hong Kong. He debunked this assumption immediately, sharing that he has been flying back to Hong Kong during breaks for the past three years. “Many people wondered why I don’t live in mainland. I still think of Hong Kong as my home. My friends and family are here. Everything is much more convenient here.” When asked if he would consider filming again in Hong Kong, Sammul would certainly consider it if the right script comes along.
Now that he has faded from the local scrutiny, Sammul finds it easier to enjoy what Hong Kong has to offer. “Before, I felt that artists should not ride on the bus or take the subway. I used to think: I also pay taxes, why should I hide at home? Now I always ride the MTR. I would just wear a face mask during rush hours.”
This article is written by Katrine for JayneStars.com.