His eyes. Everyone who meets Andy Lau always talks about his eyes. Striking, intense, alert, and probably able to read minds. You try not to stare into them, lest he finds out that you intend to ask about his four-year-old daughter Hanna. After which, he will most certainly shut you down — something the Heavenly King has been known to do to kaypoh journos. The 56-year-old (no, really) is wearing a grey changshan which he pairs with jeans and grey sneakers. It’s an odd combo but not as odd as how the organisers have teamed him up with Lu Han, his co-star in the movie The Great Wall, for the interview.
Lu Han, 26, is the former EXO member who left the Korean boyband in 2014 after he filed a lawsuit claiming that he was over-worked by the management. A wise career move, it turned out to be. He’s undoubtedly China’s most popular idol now… and the most powerful — he made the cover of Forbes China’s Power List last year. He is also undeniably pretty and doesn’t speak as much as he whispers. We can barely hear what he’s saying even though he’s sitting less than an arm’s length away. It is this combo of Lu Han’s reticence and Andy desperately trying to fill the silences with words that makes this interview... totally off the wall.
8 DAYS: Andy, both you and Matt Damon are superstars. So, whose entourage is bigger?
ANDY LAU: I can’t give you an answer ’cos I didn’t see what it was like on his side. I don’t know which hotel he stayed in, what plane he flew in on, and how many people came with him.
Did you ask around?
ANDY: (Laughs) Of course not! Matt’s a very nice guy. A very good guy.
Both you and Matt are family men and we heard that you’ve been showing the cast photos of your daughter. So did the two of you discuss fatherhood?
ANDY: (Laughs) What’s good is that whenever Matt has to travel for work, he’ll bring his whole family along. His wife, his kids, his acting coach and his chef were all here. I hope one day they’ll let me do that… with the movie company paying for it (laughs).
Are you planning for that already?
ANDY: Who will let me?! (Laughs)
Andy, you’ve accomplished so much in your career. Is breaking into Hollywood still important?
ANDY: It is. It’s my career. Of course I want to be successful everywhere. But it depends on fate and if the stuff [Hollywood] wants to do with us is of importance. Going there is not important.
Do you think this will be your big Hollywood break then, Lu Han?
LU HAN: I’ve never really thought about this mostly ’cos I’m scared of flying...
ANDY: Oh, really?!
LU HAN: Yeah. But I want to conquer my fear of flying and heights.
ANDY: Have you taken a plane before?
LU HAN: I have but if my work is in China, I’ll usually just take the train. So if I go to Hongkong, I’ll take the train to Shenzhen and then a car to Hongkong.
Have you tried taking sleeping pills for long flights?
LU HAN: I’ve taken muscle relaxants but they don’t work for me. I can’t fall asleep ’cos I get too nervous.
ANDY: I have a friend like you too. He’s now in his forties and the only places he can visit are the ones nearby.
LU HAN: For me, the longest plane ride I can endure is an hour…
ANDY: Really?! That means you have to land almost immediately after taking off (laughs).
Do you think this phobia will affect your career?
LU HAN: It just means I have to turn certain things down. I think it’s okay ’cos I’m happy with what I’m doing now. I’m happy as long as I don’t have to fly. If I take on a job that requires me to fly, I won’t be able to do well ’cos I’ll be too nervous.
ANDY: You’re like an olden day person. Filming this movie must have been good for you ’cos there are no planes (guffaws).
Do you remember the first time you climbed the Great Wall?
LU HAN: I was a kid. The climb was very long and very far.
ANDY: My first time was when I filmed the music video for ‘Citizen of China’ in 1996. The director asked me to climb one of the walls and I was like, “What?” It’s so high up!
LU HAN: When I have a girlfriend next time, I’ll definitely go climb the Wall with her.
ANDY: There’s a Chinese saying that you’re not a true man until you’ve climbed the Great Wall. (Turns to ask us) Have you done it before?
Not yet, but I intend to in the next couple of days.
ANDY: That’s good. You have to.
LU HAN: But please be mindful of the smog.
ANDY: Do you want to see the more scenic side of the Wall or the more ‘real’ side?
Real, I guess?
ANDY: Then you’ll have to go to the less popular parts. But most of those parts are in ruins.
So, did you take Matt Damon anywhere in Beijing?
ANDY: No, no... I didn’t (laughs). I don’t want to embarrass myself.