The three big Lees of local TV collaborate for the first time in The Fortune Handbook

The Fortune Handbook’s three leads, (from far left) Li Nanxing, Mark Lee and Christopher Lee, are also listed as the film’s executive producers.
The Fortune Handbook’s three leads, (from far left) Li Nanxing, Mark Lee and Christopher Lee, are also listed as the film’s executive producers.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Li Nanxing, Mark Lee and Christopher Lee team up for the first time in comedy film The Fortune Handbook

Local actor Mark Lee must have quite an impressive underwear collection. He believes in wearing new underwear in auspicious colours on the first day of Chinese New Year to usher in good luck.

"I must wear underwear in my lucky colours. I'm born in the Year of the Monkey, so my lucky colours should be white and blue this year," the 48-year-old said at a recent press conference for a new movie, The Fortune Handbook.

More than just wearing lucky underwear, he will be the personification of good luck this year. In The Fortune Handbook, the comedian portrays a zealous intern deity aiming to be promoted to Fortune God by helping two mortals, who are played by Christopher Lee and Li Nanxing.

This is the first time the three Lees, who are among local television's biggest stars, are working together on the same project.

The unprecedented combo prompted the three leads to invest an undisclosed sum in the movie, which costs $1.3 million to make. They are also listed as executive producers.

Li, who is better known for his brooding dramatic roles, took the plunge to star in a comedy for the first time because of his co-stars.

"I wouldn't have dared to star in a comedy on my own. I signed on because of the other two. Mark told me to just follow his lead. He was my confidence-booster," he said.

Mark Lee admitted that he was initially apprehensive about Li's comic acting, but his worries proved to be unfounded.

"Nanxing has a humorous side. He can forge another career path and star in sitcoms," said Mark Lee, who turned up in character, donning a bright red costume.

He added: "It is a rare opportunity for us to get together.

"I usually do variety shows and Nanxing acts in TV dramas. Christopher is always flying around to earn foreign currency."

Not only is the Taiwan-based Christopher Lee a jet-setter, he is also the most fashionable among the trio.

At 45, he could wear a pair of drop-crotch pants at the press event without looking ridiculous or coming across as a struggling rapper.

That pair of pants is an adventurous piece that Li said he could never wear.

"I don't think I could ever wear pants with a banded bottom," he said as he pointed to his ankles.

Might it be due to his age?

Li, 52, confessed he felt awkward to be originally cast opposite 40-year-old actress Vivian Lai as her character's ex-boyfriend. So the director, Kelvin Sng, changed his role to be her brother instead.

"It is a psychological barrier. I couldn't bring myself to have romantic feelings or look lovingly at an actress much younger than me. I've already crossed the half- century mark," he said.

Lai interjected in self-deprecation: "Perhaps Nanxing decided to make the change because he found out that I was the leading lady."

• The Fortune Handbook opens in cinemas tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Three's company'. Print Edition | Subscribe