SINGAPORE - The Best Leading Actor award eluded Singaporean actor Mark Lee at the Golden Horse Awards held in Taipei on Saturday (Nov 21) but the 52-year-old can take solace in the comforting words of Calista, his 12-year-old daughter.
"She told me (after the loss): 'It's okay, you've still got a long journey ahead.' I'm 52 so I guess to have a long journey I must live till 100," he jokes in a phone interview with The Straits Times on Sunday (Nov 22) afternoon after he arrived in Singapore.
Lee attended the prestigious awards ceremony - dubbed the Oscars of Chinese-language cinema - after he was nominated for his performance in musical comedy Number 1. He flew home on Sunday morning and is now serving his one-week stay-home-notice.
The actor is married to housewife Catherine Ng, who attended the ceremony with him. Aside from Calista, they have two younger children - Marksonn, nine, and Calynn, seven.
Hopes for Lee's win were high after the film clinched Best Makeup and Costume Design - its only other nomination - earlier in the night.
He says: "I told Jaspers (co-star and screenwriter for Number 1) and the others: 'It's okay, even if I lose, at least we got one win.'"
He confessed to feeling "a little disappointed" that the Best Leading Actor prize eventually went to Taiwanese actor Mo Tzu-yi for his role in Dear Tenant. But he was grateful for the opportunity to attend the event and to meet actors and film industry insiders, including Golden Horse festival chairman and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee.
"Ang Lee came by our post-awards show party and we were all so surprised. He thanked us for quarantining and attending and told us he likes our film and hopes more Singapore films will compete in the future."
Ever the funnyman, he adds: "He even told me he hopes we'll have a chance to collaborate one day. I told him I'll do it for free if he asked me to appear on film, but that I won't appear naked. My body cannot make it. "
Lee hopes that the press from the Golden Horse Awards will encourage more local viewers to see Number 1 in theatres here. The film opened on Oct 22 and is still showing in cinemas.
Another Singaporean who came home happy from the awards ceremony is songwriter Tan Boon Wah.
The 44-year-old snagged the Best Original Film Song award for Your Name Engraved Herein - the theme song for the gay-themed romance movie of the same name.
He shared the award with his fellow songwriters - Malaysians Keon Chia and Hooi Yuan Teng - as well as the song's performers, the Mandopop star Crowd Lu and the film's actor Edward Chen.
Tan - whose day job is a corporate real estate lawyer at Allen & Gledhill - told ST after the happy news was announced: "I really hope that this will encourage Singaporeans. They really do not need to think they have to be stuck in just one profession. They should dare to dream and try to excel in other interests besides their main job."