When Hongkong veteran actor Bobby Au Yeung won Best Comedy Performance at the 22nd Asian Television Awards last night (Dec 1), he thanked his wife in his acceptance speech. “We’ve been married 21 years. And she has never once scolded me,” he said. “Men, are you envious?”
Cue laughter from the audience at the annual shindig held at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre. 30 minutes later, veteran Ch 8 actor Zhu Houren took to the stage when he was named Best Supporting Actor for his role as a cold-blooded murderer in thriller Trapped Minds. “I haven’t been up on stage to receive an award in a long time,” he said in his hilarious acceptance speech. “I’d like to thank my wife. In our 32 years of marriage, I’ve never once scolded my wife. All the wives sitting below stage, you must be very envious, right?”
Humour aside, the 62-year-old was the only local actor to take home an award last night. While Mediacorp won Terrestrial Broadcaster of the Year — its 14th win at the ATA, Zoe Tay and Felicia Chin, who were both nominated for Best Actress went home empty-handed, as did Best Comedy Performers nominees Nurul Aini, Chua Enlai, Alaric Tay and Oon Shu An. Hostess with the mostest Quan Yifeng also lost out in the Best Entertainer Presenter/Host category. No wonder then that Houren went away feeling like he was the king of the night. And deservedly so too.
8 DAYS: Congrats on winning Best Supporting Actor! How do you feel right now?
ZHU HOUREN: I feel that [the Asian Television Awards] is a very big stage, and different from the ones I’ve been on in the past. It reminded me of the time when I went to Japan with Zoe Tay to film a Japanese show. It was also very grand with like a hundred reporters. Tonight, it felt like I was reliving that moment.
Are you feeling very emotional now?
No. No matter what, coming to this event, you’ll be mentally prepared to a certain extent. Of course, I feel very surprised at winning the award. As you can tell from my acceptance speech, it was not planned so it was very spontaneous (laughs). But the moment I went up on stage, especially when I saw so many people sitting below, I felt like, "Wow, filming the show [Trapped Minds] was very tough, but worth it."
Why didn’t you expect to win?
When I was playing this role, it was extremely tough. In every scene I had to tell myself: "Why did [my character] have to do this or that?" and "What must I do to persuade the audience [that my character is believable]?" As actors, we hope to play a good role in a good show. I’m not saying that this show isn’t good, but there were too many struggles. It was tough having to overcome [the barriers I set for] myself.
Let’s talk a bit about your thank-you speech. You made a humorous twist out of Bobby Au Yeung’s acceptance speech.
(Laughs) Bobby [Au Yeung] and I know each other. Over ten years ago, we met when he came to Singapore to film [2001 Ch 8 drama] Here I Come. Both of us with [Li] Nanxing chit-chatted over tea. Earlier on [at the ATA], we also rubbed shoulders. So I know that he’s the kind of person who can take a joke. When he said that his wife has never scolded him before, I was very touched. My wife has scolded me before ’cos I often make mistakes (laughs). But then I thought of how I have never ever scolded my wife before.
Yes. So when I was called up on stage, I thought of it and said it out. I cannot lie in front of so many people.
Not even once over the past 32 years?
I don’t dare to scold her! (Laughs)
Is it ’cos she's very fierce?
No it’s ’cos I’ve done many “shameful” deeds. (Laughs)
I have a lot of flaws. Most of the time, she’s the one helping me. That's why I’ve really never scolded her before. She’s fiercer (laughs).
And what do you usually get scolded for?
When I leave the house, I’d leave the door keys hanging at the front door. Or my car keys would go missing. I would also forget to shut the windows and the rainwater would come in — stuff like that will make her very vexed. After she got married to me, she became a full-time housewife. And we have three sons at home. So it’s not easy.
Your son Joel is an actor now too. Do you hope that you winning this award will inspire him?
I hope that he’d be able to see that even at this age, you still can be recognised for your work. This is very important.
How do you plan to celebrate with your wife?
I probably won’t be celebrating. At most, we’ll eat a more scrumptious meal. But we won’t specially buy something or throw a party.
Earlier on in the group interview, you mentioned that having all the reporters swarming around you was celebration enough.
How do I say this? At normal interviews, actors like us have no news value. Every time there’s a press con for a new drama, we [the older actors] would just sit there and eat. We also won’t go and feed news [to the reporters], and they also won’t [interview us] ’cos we’re all too familiar with each other. But tonight, I won an award. And [one of the reporters] reminded me that this is a regional award. And no other actor [in Singapore won]. So tonight, it feels like I’ve outshone everyone. I even got to stand next to our boss [Mediacorp CEO Tham Loke Kheng] during the photo taking session (laughs). Normally… people of my age should know our place. But tonight I feel a bit shiok! (Laughs)
PHOTOS: CHEE YAN