Hong Kong comedian Chapman To enjoys more freedom as a director than actor

Chapman To (left) and Patricia Mok at the press conference for the movie Let's Eat. ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU

Hong Kong actor Chapman To candidly admits that he has limitations as an actor because of his less-than-sharp looks.

That is why for his directorial debut Let's Eat, he feels he has more freedom because he can do whatever he wants as long as he has a story in mind.

To, 43, says: "If you take on a role, you may think, how will Tony Leung Chiu Wai portray it? How will Sean Lau Ching Wan portray it? When you direct a movie, especially with a script written by you, you already have the visuals and story in mind."

He is the director, scriptwriter and leading actor in the food-themed movie Let's Eat, which chronicles the clash between tradition and innovation at a long-established Hainanese chicken rice eatery.

That freedom that director To enjoys on the film set was also seen during Monday's movie press conference at Equarius Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa.

The witty To elicited laughter from the media present as he poked fun at his cast and himself.

He teased his leading lady Aimee Chan, 34, who is pregnant with her third child in three years. She and actor husband Moses Chan, 44, already have two sons aged two and one.

To says: "I thought this could be her comeback film, but now she's back to being a mother. Moses really doesn't give her a break. I understand why, she's just too pretty."

The self-deprecating To also turned cheeky when answering questions about his cooking skills in real life as he plays a chef in Let's Eat.

The self-professed good cook says that his signature dish is slow-cooked short ribs.

When asked if he or his wife does the cooking at home, he says with a glint in his eye: "My wife doesn't have a chance to go to the kitchen at home. She only goes to the bedroom." He is married to Hong Kong actress Kristal Tin, 37. They have no children.

He has no qualms voicing his disdain for the Korean wave, when explaining why he included Korean fried chicken and references to hit K-drama My Love From The Star (2013) in Let's Eat.

He says: "I hate K-drama. Old people like me grew up watching Japanese dramas like Long Vacation. I feel that K-dramas cannot meet their standards."

Contrary to his jokester ways, his cast was surprised by his directing chops on set.

To was asked to direct the movie Let's Eat after working with the same team on his previous movie King Of Mahjong (2015).

His co-star Chan says: "Chapman was surprisingly good. I know him as a comedic actor. He understood actors, which I thought was really nice as an actress.

"He was able to explain to you what he wanted, so it was very comfortable and smooth. He understands what an actor has to go through to achieve the results."

Let's Eat opens in Singapore on Thursday.

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