Returning for a plunge together

Julian Cheung Chi Lam and Charmaine Sheh (both above) in Return Of The Cuckoo.
Julian Cheung Chi Lam and Charmaine Sheh (both above) in Return Of The Cuckoo.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

Julian Cheung Chi Lam and Charmaine Sheh jump from the 233m Macau Tower in Return Of The Cuckoo

Hong Kong actor Julian Cheung Chi Lam has always been noted for his age-defying looks.

In what appears to be a moment of modesty, the 44-year-old insists to Life and other local media at a recent press conference that he does not look as youthful as he used to.

He looks even better now, he says.

"I used to be a little plump and looked like a little boy. Now, I've definitely matured and have a six-pack too," he deadpans in Mandarin at a press event held at Resorts World Sentosa to promote his new movie, Return Of The Cuckoo.

He quickly declines the media's call to show off his abs, adding with a laugh that the request is "so bold".

However, it is apt that he would be discussing ageing and the passing of time, given that he is promoting a film in which he reprises a role that he first took on 15 years ago.

Return Of The Cuckoo is a film extension of the hit 2000 TVB drama of the same name, in which Cheung played a mute person in Macau who falls in love with his adoptive sister, Kwan Ho (Charmaine Sheh).

By the end of the series, his character, Man Cho, gains the ability to speak.

In the new movie, set several years after the TV drama ended, Kwan Ho is married with kids and living overseas.

She returns to Macau unannounced one day, depressed and suicidal. It is up to Man Cho to find out the cause.

"I can finally speak in the movie, so I talk a lot. I didn't have to go back and study sign language again," Cheung says with a chuckle.

This time, the most challenging part of the movie for him was having to film a scene in which he and Sheh sky jumped off the Macau Tower.

Standing at 233m tall, it is said to be the tallest commercial sky jump in the world (sky jumping is different from bungee jumping in that the former is a controlled descent, while the latter is a free fall).

However, Cheung says the toughest part of the jump had nothing to do with the thrill or height of the fall.

"Charmaine and I had to jump together and our combined weight was a little too heavy. So we had to think of ways to become lighter.

"We changed our shoes and removed our accessories. I'm seen wearing a sweater, but the shirt inside was cut out so it was left with only the collar," he says.

Sheh, who was sitting beside him during the interview, cracks up at the memory.

The elegant star says in Mandarin: "It has been such a great experience, getting together with the old cast and filming this again.

"I will always remember the old TV drama with fondness because it was the first time I played a sunny and fun-loving girl, which I think is close to my real-life personality.

"Before this role, I was always asked to play weaklings who cry all the time."

Offscreen, it is clear that she gets along well with Cheung, as they joke and poke fun at each other throughout the press event.

The bachelorette, 40, mockingly scolds him for not having set her up with a date yet, despite his promises. As she gets older, more people are telling her to get married and settle down.

The 40-year-old adds: "Chi Lam keeps saying he would help me, but I have yet to go on this date."

Cheung, who is married to actress Anita Yeun, says: "I do have a candidate in mind for her.

"Don't worry, I will definitely work on it. He's not in show business and is a great guy."

Laughing, Sheh says: "You see? He says it as if it's real. Don't trust him."

•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

•Return Of The Cuckoo opens in cinemas tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Returning for a plunge together'. Print Edition | Subscribe