What role is there still for me to play: Stephen Chow on why he has stopped acting

Stephen Chow, 55, has not starred in a film since 2008's CJ7.
Stephen Chow, 55, has not starred in a film since 2008's CJ7.PHOTO: APPLE DAILY HONG KONG

When asked why he has stopped acting, veteran Hong Kong comedy actor Stephen Chow, who has not starred in a film for 10 years, reportedly responded with another question: "What other role could I still play?"

Hong Kong screenwriter Si-Cheun Lee said he privately asked Chow: "Why don't you star in shows anymore?" reported Chinese news site Sina.com on Saturday (Feb 24).

"However, he asked me back - what roles are there still for me to play?"

Lee has worked with Chow, 55, for six years. He collaborated with the veteran comedy actor on the best-selling 2016 film The Mermaid, which Chow produced and directed.

In an interview with Hong Kong media, Lee said he admires Chow's passion for movies.

"He is a very good man, but he takes time to warm up to you," said Lee. "He is a movie fanatic. I've never met a person who throws himself so completely into movie making. From 2pm he will ask you to talk about the screenplay, and at 8pm he will ask you to eat with him. You'll eat and talk about the screenplay until 11pm."

Chow rose to fame in the 80s through to the noughties for his turns in TV series and films such as All's Well, Ends Well (1992), Shaolin Soccer (2001) and Kung Fu Hustle (2004).

The last film he acted in was CJ7 (2008), after which he switched to directing and producing films such as Journey To The West: The Demons Strike Back (2017) and The Mermaid (2016), which broke Chinese box-office records.

Its sequel, The Mermaid 2, is set for release next year.

Although known for his roles as a funnyman, Chow, who has not married, has been noted for his serious character in real life. There are often rumours about how he is reportedly hard to get along with on set.

In 2010, Hong Kong actor Danny Chan told The New Paper that Chow is simply a perfectionist.

"He gets angry when there's a small mistake. He's very particular and serious about movies," he said. "He scolds actors not when they perform badly, but when they don't put in hard work and effort into their role. People say he's fierce and selfish, but I think they only made such comments because they didn't manage to get him to film their movies."