Former Mr HK Matthew Ko leaves TVB after nine years, relieved he no longer has to play sex maniacs

Hong Kong - Nine years ago, he won TVB's inaugural Mr Hong Kong beauty contest and his future in show business seemed rosy.

On Wednesday, actor Matthew Ko, 30 looked more like a cautionary tale, leaving the station after years of playing sex maniacs and rapists, said Apple Daily.

He said in an interview: "I don't know why I had to play a lot of roles in which I assaulted women."

Two of the lowest points, he said, were playing a conman who molests an elderly woman on Ghost Dragon Of Cold Mountain, a recent period drama, and discussing haemorrhoids on a talk show.

"I really didn't want to do it, but I felt I had to as an artist who had signed a contract," he said.

Ko, who signed an eight-year contract after winning the contest, said his monthly income was only HK$25,000 (S$4,000).

In his fifth year, he was told he had not been doing well. The station froze his pay and added a year to his contract, he said.

He said he had a lot of jobs at the start of his career, and a big break when he was cast as the second leading man in the 2009 period drama, Man In Charge. The Hong Kong-born, Canada-bred actor, who does not have a good command of Chinese, said he worked hard and went to bed holding scripts.

But he did not measure up to producers' expectations, and "many producers were afraid to work with me".

He said he took acting classes and felt he was improving, but he had fewer and fewer assignments.

After the pay freeze, he said he was stressed out by having to pay for his home, car and insurance, and suspected he was suffering from depression at one point.

He saw a doctor about his condition but found it too expensive to keep seeing him, he said. Instead, he began playing basketball frequently.

He now hopes to start afresh as an actor in Beijing, he said.

Summing up his time at TVB, he said: "I gave them nine years of my time and they didn't try to retain me or raise my pay until the last year. So I'm leaving in a state of unhappiness and melancholy."