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| Friday, April 28, 2006

Hong Kong megastar Andy Lau is known for making Asian women swoon, but he's more than just a pretty face.

For close to three decades, the 45-year-old has been an all-around entertainer, singing on some 50 albums and appearing in more than 120 movies. Throughout Asia, his face is plastered on posters promoting his films. And although he's known for his lover-boy roles, he's also done kung fu fare and serious drama.

In person, the artist is laid-back, down-to-earth and emits a dorky laugh. He enjoys bowling and has a high score of 279.

Lau's latest album will be coming out late in the summer, while his most recent movie, ``All About Love,'' was just screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The theme of this film is similar to that of the 2000 U.S. movie ``Return to Me,'' which starred David Duchovny and Minnie Driver. In both, the story centers on a man who falls in love with a woman who receives his late wife's heart in a transplant.

``It's a movie for the men,'' says ``All About Love'' director Daniel Yu, who adds he hopes it will make them more sensitive to the feelings and needs of their wives or girlfriends. ``Chinese men always forget about our partners, he says. ``We always think that she must be there (for us). . . . When you promise to have dinner with her next week, you must do it. It's a small promise. Men think, `It's just dinner. I'm busy. I can do other things.' . . . (But) you have to pamper your partner.''

The Mercury News talked to Lau this week when he passed through San Francisco to promote the film for the festival.

Q How do you feel about your heartthrob image?

A I'm really happy (laughing). Yeah, I really enjoy being Andy Lau. I'm just like a friend of everybody. I feel like when I walk everywhere in the world, as long as I meet some Chinese, they all know me. . . . If I'm young, if I'm handsome, then you can love me, but I'm 45 already. They still love me. . . . I think it's affection. It's not the audience and the idol; it's friendship.

Q Are there differences between the Andy on the screen, on the stage and in person?

A I'm just a hardworking guy in Hong Kong. I think most of the artists in Hong Kong -- they all work hard, because it's just a very small market. They have to take part in all kinds of roles to get exposure.

Q Your current movie focuses on love. How would you define love?

A I need love (laughing). Just like the audience, they all love me; they love me without any reasons. I think love is blind. Once you choose the one you love, you can give all your energy, all your money. Just like when a man loves a woman -- if the woman is a liar, he's the last one to recognize that.

Q Are you currently in a relationship?

A Huh? No, no, no, no (laughing).

Q How do you choose your roles?

A It's my career, so I will pick one every year, but some are very commercial. . . . But sometimes I try to do something which is different than the market. [With this movie] the box office is OK, not the No. 1, but it is in the Top 10. . . . We try to make different movies besides kung fu. I want people from other countries to know that we have great love stories.

Q Do you see more crossover happening now?

A Chow Yun-Fat, Jet Li -- they repeat their careers here. And people try to put them into projects that are not that good. I can wait. . . . I want to show what Asian star style is all about.

Q What would you like your image to be here?

A I prefer drama.

Q Is there any American actor you would compare yourself to?

A I like George Clooney.

Q Out of the 120 to 130 movies you've done, what's your favorite?

A ``Love on a Diet'' (a 2001 movie in which he wears a fat suit and facial prosthetics to play an overweight knife salesman). You know, people try to classify Andy Lau as an idol so they won't care about how he acts. He just stands there, has a very good posture, has a very handsome face, that's it, OK. But after this movie, people will recognize that I can act, because all my face is covered by the special makeup. You can't see my original face, so I can tell them my feelings through my eyes. After this movie, people will accept I'm an artist, . . . not just a star.

Q What do you do for fun?

A When I'm not working, have no work to do, I try to bowl and do Chinese calligraphy.

Q You have a new album coming up?

A This time, we're trying to tell about life, friendship, love. . . . I'm really a mature guy in the market, so I can't write some songs for the youth. I have to write some songs for mature people. . . . I'm more concerned about the lyrics -- what's the message of the whole album.


Age: 45

Chinese name: Lau Tak-Wah

Birthplace: Hong Kong

Hobbies: Chinese calligraphy, bowling (highest score 279)

Years in the entertainment business: 26, spanning from TV to movies and music

Number of films: 130 as an actor, according to Internet Movie Database

Number of albums: About 50

Entry in Guinness World Records: Most awards won by a Canto-pop (Cantonese pop) male artist

Next up: A song for the 2008 Beijing Olympics

An album tentatively set for release in August

news from: Marian Liu,Mercury News

In Association with YesAsia.com