About 8 years ago I went to Hainan to film this TV play. The play is called Langjitianya (浪击天涯) and it’s a sort of wacky comedy about romantic intrigues in a holiday resort. Hainan was the perfect place to make it, it is a sub-tropical island at the south end of the Chinese mainland, warm all the year round.
The evening I arrived I was handed a script in which there were, I think, five scenes. The lines were pretty complicated and I set to work memorising them immediately. I was playing a French chef called Hong Mofang, with an assistant called Yamei. While I was looking at them the assistant director introduced me to a girl in blue jeans and said “this is Yamei”. We exchanged pleasantries and I went back to my script.
The next day we were filming in a hotel and there was a grand lounge where we were doing the makeup. I was made up pretty quick, so I sat and relaxed and looked at my script. Every so often I had a look around to see if I could spot the little girl in blue jeans who I was supposed to be acting with, but I couldn’t see anyone like her. There was one girl who might have been her, but she walked right past me. No, couldn’t be her. Right opposite me was an incredibly beautiful actress in a long silk dress being carefully groomed by a bunch of makeup artists. Every so often I looked over, wistfully. Why don’t I get to act with someone who looks like that, I thought.
After a while I got up to go out for a breath of fresh air, and I walked past this goddess in silk, “Hello”, she said. “Do I know you?” I said. “I’m Yamei”, she said. And so she was. The actress was Zeng Baoyi, daughter of Hong Kong Comedian Eric Tsang and already becoming a star in her own right. She was good to work with, I find a lot of actresses hard going as people, but she was sweet.