Simon Yam's wife "a little jealous" of his sexy scenes in Sara

Actor Simon Yam is usually clean-cut and dapper, but he grew a moustache to play a robber in Two Thumbs Up (above). -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Actor Simon Yam is usually clean-cut and dapper, but he grew a moustache to play a robber in Two Thumbs Up (above). -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Actor Simon Yam (above) is usually clean-cut and dapper, but he grew a moustache to play a robber in Two Thumbs Up. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Actor Simon Yam (above) is usually clean-cut and dapper, but he grew a moustache to play a robber in Two Thumbs Up. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

Simon Yam's model wife does not mind his steamy role in Sara, but could not stand his moustache for Two Thumbs Up

To call Hong Kong actor Simon Yam a family man would almost be an understatement.

The veteran star's wife Sophia Kao, better known as Qi Qi the model, and their 10-year-old daughter Ella are the centre of his universe.

Speaking to Life! at an interview in a private club in Hong Kong, the 60-year-old lights up whenever he speaks of them, and he brings them up often.

He whips out his mobile phone and flips through its photo gallery.

"Look, this is the new vacation home I bought. It's surrounded by water, which my daughter will love because she loves swimming," he says in Mandarin, showing this reporter pictures of his new property, located on Funtasy Island in Batam, Indonesia.

"We were on a beach holiday a few months ago and I had to play with her for eight hours at a time in the water until our skin got all wrinkly."

Yam is his usual confident, dapper self, a sign that he is as comfortable in his own skin as ever.

This month, he is seen in not one, but two films - the provocative drama Sara, where he has intimate bedroom scenes with actress Charlene Choi; as well as the dark comedy Two Thumbs Up, where he and a bunch of other guys pose as cops to stage a robbery.

As one of Hong Kong's biggest stars, the actor also has the reputation of being friendly, down-to-earth and, yes, utterly devoted to his family.

In 18 years of marriage, he has never been embroiled in romantic scandals of any sort and he appears to still be very much in love.

Whenever he is overseas for work, for example, he wears two watches - one showing the local time and one the time in Hong Kong, so he knows when he can call home.

"I love my wife, I love my daughter, it's as simple as that," he says of his squeaky clean record.

Given that he speaks fluent English, he could have gone the way of Chow Yun Fat and looked to Hollywood a long time ago, but he has been adamant on staying put in Hong Kong "so that I can be at home".

He adds: "It's very important that I do at least two movies in Hong Kong every year, no matter how many other offers I get."

This means that he opts out of more lucrative China movie offers as they take him away for too many months at a time.

For Sara, he took a pay cut to play the role of the older man having an affair with a high school student (Choi).

He says: "It cannot all be about the money. The script is great and it's an opportunity to showcase Charlene as a serious dramatic actress. So, of course, I agreed to help out."

"The film has done so well, but the producers have yet to give me a red packet to reward us for our hard work. I realise that the movie business is a very commercial one," he adds in jest.

Since Sara opened in Hong Kong earlier this month, it has made more than HK$16 million (S$2.8 million), which is considered a huge amount for a Category III film restricted to viewers aged 18 and older.

Posters for the film are plastered all over the city, which made things "a little awkward" between him and his daughter, he says.

"She asked me, 'Why are you hugging another woman other than mum?' I had to explain to her that it's a movie and that I'm just acting, but she still had to punish me in her own way.

"She made me give her piggyback rides from the living room to her bedroom, back and forth, 10 times," he says with a laugh.

He admits that his wife is "a little jealous" of the sexy scenes he shares with Choi, 32, but it is actually his role in Two Thumbs Up that irked her more.

His character has a moustache, which she cannot stand, he says.

"For the whole month of filming this movie, she refused to kiss me because of the facial hair. I really sacrificed myself for my work."

yipwy@sph.com.sg

Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter@STyipwaiyee

Sara is showing in cinemas. Two Thumbs Up opens in cinemas tomorrow.