Hong Kong actor Sean Lau Ching Wan has hit actress Michelle Ye Xuan in two movies, Insanity and Overheard 3. Both have earned him nominations for Best Actor at this month's Hong Kong Film Awards.
But he is swearing off violent scenes involving assault on women.
Sounding apologetic over the telephone from Hong Kong, Lau, 51, reveals that he had to make it realistic by actually hitting Ye while filming a scene in the new movie Insanity, where his schizophrenic character gets agitated and wallops his on-screen wife.
Ye, a former TVB actress, ended up with bruises on her arm after the filming, according to reports in the Chinese media.
Lau says in Mandarin: "It was tough to do that scene. I was worried I would hurt her. She was professional and told me she was glad to work with me."
Pressed on which of the two nominated roles is more likely to win him the Best Actor prize - the mentally ill murderer in Insanity or the unscrupulous property developer in Overheard 3 - he replies diplomatically: "I like both movies very much. It's not for me to choose which one I would like to win.
"Each nomination is the result of a team effort by the director, scriptwriter, production crew and the rest of the cast."
Although the veteran actor says he prefers light-hearted roles, his acting chops make him the preferred candidate in Hong Kong for complex characters.
The self-deprecating and reticent Lau has a different take on this issue, saying in jest: "Perhaps directors can sense that I'm a little nuts."
In all seriousness, however, he says he has not reached a point where he has buckled under the stresses of life.
"I've not had to seek medical attention. I hope I don't have to do so in future," says Lau, who relaxes by shopping for groceries or taking walks with his dogs in the mountains.
Though he says he can count on his wife to be his listening ear, he does not want to over-burden her.
"It won't be fair for me to pass on my stress to her. If I have any troubles, I'll chat with my friends. If things get serious, the best way is to look for a doctor," he says.
He has been married for 17 years to former actress Amy Kwok, 48, whom he met on the set of TVB drama The Greed Of Man (1992). They have no children.
Long-term relationships also mark his career.
He and Louis Koo have starred together in more than 10 movies, including the comedy La Brassiere (2001) and all three instalments of Overheard (2009, 2011 and 2014). So much that he joked recently in another interview that he was relieved Insanity pairs him with Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming for the first time, instead of with Koo.
When asked about his comment, Lau says with a laugh: "Louis is a good actor. I don't mind acting opposite him or anyone. It's the director who picks the cast."
He is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of buddy Koo, who reportedly invests in movies and has set up a post-production company.
Lau says: "I will concentrate on acting. I have no business acumen. If I run my own business, it's sure to lose money."
Insanity opens tomorrow.