In the winter of 2011 I went along to take part in the filming of “Chinese Zodiac”, starring and directed by Jackie Chan. Of course I was very keen to see Jackie Chan in the flesh. I have to be honest and say that his films are not really my cup of tea, but I admire him for his courage, both as a stuntman, and as a person who stands up and says what he thinks.
We were filming a boardroom sequence, and they even gave me a couple of lines to say. I was delighted, of course. The film crew were one of the best organised I have seen, working quietly and efficiently. A lot of the equipment was specially made for Jackie Chan, and his assistant directors had iPhones and were able to download the takes onto them and show them to the actors immediately, which is a technical nicety I have never seen before.
Jackie Chan seemed much more cultured than his screen persona. Huge energy and intense concentration. What struck me most was the feeling that he treated everyone with exactly the same level of respect, whether they were playing a starring role or had just come along to be a face in the crowd.
I was pleased, also, to find that the theme of the film had a connection with Yuanmingyuan. The European Palace in Yuanmingyuan had a fountain made of 12 bronze sculpted heads representing the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. After the Anglo-French forces burned and looted the gardens, the 12 heads went missing. Attempts by the Chinese government and by individual Chinese citizens to repatriate these heads as they turn up in foreign auctions can be seen as a representative symbol of the rise of China as a new economic superpower.
Alas, I cannot show a clip from “Chinese Zodiac” because my lines ended up on the cutting room floor. I like to think it was for pacing reasons and not because my acting sucked (if anyone knows different, please don’t tell me). But this is another clip from a TV play in which I play a foreigner who wants to buy a priceless stolen palace antique.