Wayne Lai Reveals Ruthless Side in “Detective Columbo”; Natalie Tong Stars As Female Lead

Since the announcement to film Detective Columbo <神探高倫布>at the TVB sales presentation last December, the drama was eagerly anticipated. Detective Columbo was reputed to be producer Lee Tim Shing’s (李添勝) last project before retirement.  Wayne Lai (黎耀祥), who had worked with Tim Gor in the Rosy Business <巾幗梟雄> installments, committed to filming Detective Columbo months prior. Although Tavia Yeung (楊怡) was featured in the original sales presentation clip, the actress was busy with other filming commitments and unable to appear in the drama. With TVB’s current talent drain, Tim Gor lamented that he had no female lead to headline his new drama, until Natalie Tong (唐詩詠) stepped in.

In recent months, many of TVB’s veteran and leading artists left the company to pursue greater opportunities in mainland China and at rival television station, City Telecom (CTI). TVB was left with few casting options, forcing it to look beyond its current staff roster. Perhaps half in jest and half in earnest, Wayne Lai even suggested that Chrissie Chau (周秀娜) be cast in Detective Columbo, creating new sparks!

It turned out that Chrissie Chau has indeed been discussing with TVB regarding possible future partnerships. However, Tim Gor did not invite her to film Detective Columbo. The model turned actress had no current availability in her schedule. Wayne expressed his disappointment in being unable to work with Chrissie, but looked forward to work with her another time.

At the May 2nd costume fitting for Detective Columbo, Wayne revealed that he will be playing a ruthless character in the drama. Wayne said, “The character was a simple-minded man raised in a small village. After incurring an accidental bullet wound in his brain, his personality underwent an extreme change. His methods became increasingly ruthless. Fortunately, his conscience allows him to redeem himself before it becomes too late.”

For the last two years, 63-year-old Lee Tim Shing had vowed that he will retire from TVB, citing his declining health condition. Working at TVB for 43 years and producing many blockbuster hits, including last year’s Bottled Passion <我的如意狼君>, Tim Gor still possessed the “golden producer touch.” He had a fine eye for detail and specialized in period dramas. Tim Gor’s roots with TVB ran very deep and the company did not wish for him to resign, especially as the battle with rival stations such as CTI intensifies in the upcoming months.

Wayne also urged  that Tim Gor continue to work if his health allows it. Wayne said, “Tim Gor does not wish to bear the big title upon himself. Actually, producing one drama per year is enough. If he is not mentally tired, then he can continue to work. I hope to be able to film Rosy Business 3 <巾幗梟雄3>!”

Natalie Tong did not mind that she was the “second choice” in Tim Gor’s casting choice for Detective Columbo. This will be the second time that Natalie has appeared as the female lead in Tim Gor’s dramas, after her appearance in 2010’s A Fistful of Stances <鐵馬尋橋>.

Sire Ma (馬賽) will portray a police officer in Detective Columbo. To prepare for her physical scenes, Sire has been training and learning fencing skills. She denied recent romantic rumors with Adrian Chau (周志文), who allegedly already had a girlfriend.

Detective Columbo also stars Edwin Siu (蕭正楠), Pierre Ngo (敖嘉年), Joe Junior, and Lau Dan (布偉傑).

Source: Oriental Daily via ihktv.com

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Jayne: TVB and fans are not ready to let producer Lee Tim Shing go yet. His productions truly have a lot of heart (often featuring the redeeming qualities of characters led astray by circumstances) instead of the gimmicks and marketing buzz that some producers seemingly prefer to employ.

In the 1980s, many of TVB’s productions had a lot of heart. The studio sets have becoming increasingly elaborate, the themes more sexual and controversial, and the actors speaking more English than necessary, but as the company grew, they strayed away from what it really means to tell a good story. Tim Gor still has that heart to tell a good story, with a keen eye on details, and that is what his “golden producer touch” is about.

My first reaction after reading Wayne’s description of his role was “amnesiac” since he had a bullet injury in his brain.

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  1. Lee Tim Shing should enjoy retirement. He should just work as a consultant side.

  2. Sire Ma is actually the female lead, not Natalie Tong, according to the costume fitting cast list. Natalie is merely playing a supporting role.

    1. Wiki still shows Natalie as lead…
      Natalie Tong as Sister Mui (梅妹) and Szeto Nam (司徒男):[8]

      Tong was the second of the cast to be confirmed in February 2012.[1] Originally signed to play a second leading role, Lee changed Tong’s character to a first leading character when other actresses could not sign for the part

      Is there a link somewhere talking about Sire Ma becoming the lead? in either case, it’ll be nice to see either of these two play against Wayne Lai.

      1. Wikipedia is not exactly a validate source Natalie’s fan could have done that. But I do believe Natalie is the leaf judging by the photo.

      2. Natalie fans are trolls on Wikipedia. They make her the lead in EVERY dramas she’s in.

      3. Wiki and Natalie fans, lolz. Why need to be desperate? The real series will show who is truly lead.

      4. dont trust wiki mate. i can go in and change it to charmaine as female lead easily lol

  3. I dont get NT would be a pair up for WL?
    not to mention age gap but the whole pair up is kind of weird to me. and this WL actually wants to star w/that boob model girl? hahha MY GOD he likes them young huh??? hahaha LOL

    1. I think Wayne is a excellent actor. But I don’t think he’s ever all that convincing in romantic relationships. I didn’t think it was all that great even with Sheren Tang.

    2. I tried imagine Wayne and Natalie together. I find their look quite matching. At least, more matching than Elaine Ng and Wayne. When I first read about Natalie being lead, I was hoping Elaine can be lead instead. But, thinking about it. Natalie’s look match Wayne more.

  4. I thought it was supposed to be comedy? The title sounds like a comedy but the character description sounds like a drama. I am looking forward to this if indeed Wayne gets to be ruthless, cool but still ruthless which I have yet to see this side of him.

  5. I like Tim Gor’s production. I admit he uses the same old formula but he doesn’t go for the shocks but rather he goes for the story. yes some do have lousy endings but he creates such intricate and exciting characters in a rather tight storyline, I suppose sometimes even a producer must give way to the demands of the executives and bad editing. I like the fact this is a story based production rather than theme based. It has been quite some time I have seen some story based production and in that respect he doesn’t disappoint. And he does know how to make a chaste but romantic relationship that you will support and root for. I am sorry to see him go. TVB needs him more than he needs TVB.

    I have enough of “serial killer!!”, “Cannibalism!!” sort of headlines. It is time to go back to what makes a good story, rather than just shocks, when in the end it is just the same. His productions may have same elements, but they’re used well to create a fresh perspective. His series is always about something and never about nothing.

    I really look forward to this, more so it has Wayne Lai. I can bear with the leading ladies, all of whom too young for Wayne but I suppose when you act next to a master, you will either crumble or hopefully in this case, buckle up and improve.

    1. Funn,
      “I have enough of “serial killer!!”, “Cannibalism!!” sort of headlines. It is time to go back to what makes a good story, rather than just shocks, when in the end it is just the same.”

      Tim Gor was from the Golden 80s of TVB’s era, when the company was still relatively small compared to today. It started almost like an art house studio, where craft and talent were emphasized over packing and marketing. Now, the latter two traits are emphasized everywhere, and especially more pressing in a growing corporate environment such as TVB.

      Jonathan Chik seems to be especially experimental and loves controversial topics. Although I feel he does it less for the publicity than for a true passion for his art, to break his own barriers and create a story driven by extreme subject matter not previous covered in his own works.

      Mr. Chik comes across as someone who wishes to supercede himself and current contemporaries. After he popularized the scheming palace ladies genre (which is still very bankable in mainland China), he appeared to be quite reluctant to make “War and Beauty” sequel. I suspect TVB was the one who pressured him to make the sequel, rather than Mr. Chik wishing to do so himself.

  6. Wouldn’t Natalie actually be 3rd choice for the role since it was first Tavia and thn Chrissie?
    Honestly I’m a bit upset that Natalie is the lead her acting has never been amazing…
    But it makes sense since all the lead actresses are busy with other projects.

  7. Surprised that Producer Lee Tim Sing never thought of casting Nancy Wu who is a much better actress than Natalie Tong or Sire Ma to take the 1st lead role.

    Poor Nancy who is never given chance to move up to act 1st lead role!

    Sire Ma will get 1st lead roles soon while poor Nancy will stay as a support actress.

    1. You’re right. Nancy would be a better choice.

    2. Nancy would definitely be a better choice but im bored of nancy-Wayne pairing

    3. I wonder how will Nancy fares as lead.
      She outshine Natalie in her small role in AFOS and she also outshine everyone else in FH3. But, if she is the lead, can she still shine. Some people shine more in supporting roles.

      1. I agree that Nancy Wu always outshines other female artistes even she has a support role. However, with her good acting and experience, why doesn’t she get a lead role after so many years with TVB and after so many newbies get their 1st lead roles? It is totally NOT fair for Nancy Wu!!!

    4. I guess I’m the only one not entirely thrilled with Nancy’s acting? 😛

      1. Are you not thrilled with Nancy’s acting or Nancy’s face?

        I admit that Nancy is not very pretty among the female fadans, but her acting is way more superior than those so-called fadans.

      2. It’s more her acting… I find that she sometimes seems to be pushing too hard, which makes the role feel unbelievable to me. She’s not terrible by any stretch, and sometimes she does shine, but I find her a bit inconsistent at times.

      3. You are not the only one la. TVB fadans are so boring these days.

  8. wayne wants to film rosy business 3 because he thinks it will help him winning best actor again.

    1. I suspect he will be a hot favorite with The Confidant. Wayne probably just wants to work with Tim Gor and is sad to see him go since they have worked together for so long.

      1. Agreed with Ric.
        I dont think Wayne would think of winning as his top priority when partnering with Tim Gor. I trust Wayne is satisfied being winner for 2 consecutive years, it was truely a big gift to him a;ready.

        He respects Tim Gor very much & look upon Tim Gor as many good productions do come from this Golden Producer. Both Wayne & Tim Gor have very good working relationshps and chemistry. And they appreciate good work.

  9. Congrats to Natalie. This is her chance to shine. I personally don’t think her acting is going enough to lead yet but TVB is lacking in leading actresses so I hope she utilizes this opportunity.

  10. Personally think Natalie is better actress than some of the other leading ladies in TVB such as Fala and Kate. She does lack screen presence though.. feel as if she’s easy to fade in the background and forget her face.

    1. Though Natalie Tong has improved quite a bit in her acting in the last two years, she is still not good enough to be a lead actress. There is still lot of room for her improvements, such as her inner emotions, facial expressions, pronunciation of words, and how to manipulate her voice to make it sound stronger. Her voice is always too weak.

    2. I agree. I think Natalie Tong is beautiful but her acting is still lacking. She under performs or barely delivers in her roles, that is why she is forgettable.

      I too hope that she can seriously undertake to brush up her acting if she wish to go far in this field. She has the looks so she can do it.

    3. I think Nat Tong has better acting in the past. I don’t know why but I watched a bit of her performance in a recent series tat I dun rmb name, she dun have the aura she used to have anymore.

      1. Yup, I agree. I didn’t like her performance in TOT or FH3. It felt like her acting skills took a step backwards instead of forward. She wasn’t terrible in either series but really not leading lady performance.

  11. I still don’t think Nat can play the female 1st lead good in the series..there is something about her that’s lacking of the 1st lead feels…. maybe its her body frame and boring face.

  12. Glad that Natalie is given a chance.
    Good Luck!!!

  13. Seriously?! tvb couldn’t find any other female lead of than deciding between natalie and sire??? none of them are of 1st female lead quality….

  14. ” The character was a simple-minded man raised in a small village. After incurring an accidental bullet wound in his brain, his personality underwent an extreme change. His methods became increasingly ruthless. Fortunately, his conscience allows him to redeem himself before it becomes too late.”

    This doesn’t sound like the comedy detective story depicted in the sale presentation. Honestly, I’m disappointed. The light-hearted element of sale presentation version is what attracted me to the series. Will Tim Gor turn ‘Detective Columbus’ to be a heavy duty drama ala ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Rosy Business’? That’s what Tim Gor did to ‘A Fistful of Stances’. It was a comedy in the sale presentation but the end product became a serious drama.

  15. I wonder when will TVB air ‘The Last Steep Aliment'(天梯). It’s also a series by Tim Sir starring Moses Chan and Maggie Cheung.

  16. They went from Tavia to Chrissie to Sire & Mandy Wong then eventually settled for Natalie Tong… so technically she’s like 5th choice lol….

    Natalie was standing in the middle of the cast photo next to Wayne whereas Sire was on the side. So I think Natalie is the first female lead.

    1. I thought Niki was also being considered for the female lead before Chrissie.
      In fact Tim gor never mention Chrissie, it was just Wayne’s idea.
      I kinda think Tim gor like Niki better than Nat.

  17. Natalie did a good job in a Fistful of Stances and FH3. She deserves a chance to lead a serie.

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