Julian Cheung's Captain Cool was the most popular character in the popular 2013 drama series Triumph In The Skies II.
Yet, strangely, in the movie spin-off released here tomorrow, Captain Cool has been sidelined by Louis Koo, who plays a new character. Francis Ng, Cheung's co-star in the TV show and the cast member to survive from the original 2003 series, also gets more screen time than him.
Instead of having his feathers ruffled over the ostensible snub, Cheung, well, keeps his cool.
At a press conference here on Monday to promote the movie, the 43-year-old says in Mandarin: "Compared to me, Koo and Ng are indeed more heavyweight actors in the movie industry. I'm just glad to be acting with them."
Triumph In The Skies, which has little to do with the two drama series of the same name apart from being set in the airlines industry and a few characters, features three couples and their relationships.
Koo, 44, plays young pilot Branson, who also inherits Skylette Airlines from his father and discovers that his old flame, Cassie (Charmaine Sheh), is a flight attendant at the company.
Francis Ng, 53, reprises the role of Captain Samuel Tong, who has to act as a flying consultant to rock idol TM (Sammi Cheng), who is starring in a commercial for Skylette. They are soon attracted to each other despite their contrasting personalities.
Cheung's Captain Cool has since left Skylette and flies private jets now. During a flight, he meets and falls in love with young, vivacious Kika, played by Taiwanese actress Amber Kuo, 28.
For Cheung and Kuo, the ice between them was broken while filming a scene in - of all places - a bathtub. The two of them had to sit in a bubble bath and gaze lovingly at each other.
He recalls: "Kuo kept slipping beneath the water's surface, so I used my foot to prop her up. After that incident, the ice was broken between us. She's also a very polite and nice girl."
While it must be flattering for Cheung that he keeps getting paired up on the screen with considerably younger actresses - his romantic interest in the TV show was Fala Chen, now 32 - he actually would like his fictional partner to be Elena Kong.
The 43-year-old Hong Kong actress plays head stewardess Heather Fong in the TV show and movie.
Cheung, who is married to actress Anita Yuen and has one son, says: "Elena's a very charismatic actress,and I've never had much experience acting with her thus far."
Sheh, who was also in town to promote the movie, says working closely with Koo for the first time changed her perception of him.
"As Louis was familiar with England, where the movie was shot, he would take us to good eating places. He also treated us to a meal and mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival. He wasn't the cold, aloof guy I thought he was," she recalls.
But Cheung has his doubts about Koo. Apparently, Koo had told Cheung that he has supper every night and does not work out. Then while filming a scene in the movie, Cheung spotted Koo's buff body.
"When I do like what he says he does, I just get a belly," Cheung says to laughter from the audience at the press event.
Sheh's recollection of the film shoot was slightly less funny. For a romantic drama like this, she sure endured more accidents than is to be expected.
The 39-year-old says with a laugh: "There was a scene where Koo and I had to roll from the sofa to the floor. He said he'd protect me, but I ended up hitting my head on the floor and fainting after that. He said that he rolled half a round less than he should have.
"I'm all right now, but I told him that he'd have to take care of me if anything goes awry."
She also suffered a cut lip when Koo tossed a can of shaving cream at her when she was not aware. That happened during the filming of a scene where their two characters are playfully spraying shaving cream at each other.
Asked for their thoughts on the spate of air-travel disasters in the past year, both stars sound optimistic.
Sheh says: "Precisely because there's been such a spate of plane incidents, we hope that the movie will reassure travellers more and bring joy to them instead."
To which Cheung adds: "I'm not afraid of taking aeroplanes - travelling is something I need to do as an actor. I hope that in this new year, audiences will feel reassured after watching Captain Cool and Captain Samuel Tong and the movie will help viewers be less worried about the recent spate of plane incidents."
Triumph In The Skies II opens on Thursday.