Thursday, July 24, 2003

Special Report: Roger Kwok - Good Quality

It was never written down, but a conversation with Roger Kwok whilst on a TVB worker bus on the way to work ten years ago still lingers in the memory, it went: "Hello, Mr Kwok, I am a writer for "Sing Si Gu See" (City Tales), I hope we will work together well..." He replied: "Oh! I understand, please look out for me, I am called On Jai." After hearing this, I felt a great warmth in my heart from him and laughed: "Well that's fine for us both then!" He said: "Oh, that's right." I asked: "How did you enter the industry?" He silenced for a moment before saying: "I used to be a graphic designer..." The bus stopped and everyone got off, he seemed excited but at the same time a little lost, he didn't even know where make-up was. After filming started, he seemed at odds with himself, but he knew all his lines extremely well. At the time he was just a newcomer.

Renowned lyricist Lo Kwok Jim once signed three newcomers. They were Gallen Lo, Gary Chan (Ka Fai) and Roger Kwok. With his encouragement and intervention, they went for a screen test at TVB, but only Roger was not taken on. At that time he was very disappointed and although the other two didn't have much success at the time, then at least they were contracted artistes. Life is difficult and Roger once took on a job as a cleaner at 2 in the morning, a hair washer in a hairdressers, photographic assistant... not just summer jobs, just a way of making ends meet.

"I wasn't afraid of how other people saw me, hard times are hard times. However I would not let myself become self-pitiful, being bitter at the heavens will not help anything." As the days passed by, the chance came and the sitcom "City Tales" was about to start filming and at the time was auditioning for actors. When the role of Leung Wai Kwong was advertised as kind, innocent, willing to help, hardworking and determined, willing to learn ... basically a perfect person, Roger went along to the audition with a relaxed feeling and because he had already borne the feeling of failure, he said to himself: "Okay, I will try again, whether I get it or not, I will still have done my best."

When he received a call from Mrs Lo telling him that he had been offered the part, he was stunned and unable to speak, his eyes welled up and went red, no matter how hard he had convinced himself to take the result lightly, he still had great expectations on success. He couldn't sleep at night and once didn't sleep at all because he thought very deeply into it and had all the hope and future of that night. Two days later he entered the studio and he still remembers that behind one of the prop boards was written 'complete by 17th July' - at this point, he had a reminiscent look on his face.

"On Jai - on set please!", "On Jai, your turn!", "On Jai, On Jai...." in the space of a moment, he had gained fame, this was the feeling he gained from a third party perspective, but he still wore his little cap on the minibus and MTR to work and when fans asked for his autograph he was still very uncomfortable and of course he had to keep reminding himself: "I am only a small artiste in a much larger pool, to do my job well is something I should do, I can't afforda hundred dollar lunch, so having a rice box will indicate I have work." Since he was young, Roger has always had the motto "Life is like a play" in his heart and from time to time, he will be faced with the conflict between sensibility and emotion. Finally, he decided to do well his part and he daren't do any work "on the side", with his spirit to keep to his contract, he worked hard to finally be able to earn enough money to put a deposit down on a car and have a good meal once in a while.

Talking of his series "Sang Sei Chung" (The Charge of Life and Death), everyone before and behind the camera had pinned great hopes on this series and when the script was produced, all the cast were quickly reading it like reading a novel and after a scene was completed, he would rewatch the clips very carefully with Sheren Tang. He still remembers a line talking about time: "When a glass of ice water meets with warm air, there will be water droplets forming on the side of the glass that gradually gather together and drip onto the table...", however ratings only managed 22 points. The cast was outstanding and their performances were admirable, the direction was skilled... but... he was very upset and cried about this and he was very concerned about his future.

In the series "Sai Bat Dai Tou" (The Final Verdict), Roger experienced the power and skill of matured artistes as the names of the actors in the show such as Adam Cheng, Rebecca Chan, Tam Ping Man, Lee Heung Kam, and Chan Lap Ban ... Roger says: "My predecessors act from the heart, whether they are in front of or behind the cameras, they will always have their scripts at hand because their ultimate goal is to act every scene well and they are the real superstars in my eyes." When he sees artistes who play around, have no respect for their work and are always surrounded by rumours, then although they may be "famous" they will always be lacking in something and that is "respect". He says: "When I first entered showbiz, it was like the growing up process of a little child. Parents, teachers, schoolfriends will all have an affect, the thing he learned from his predecessors was to respect oneself. Their professional qualities are the most basic and yet the most important work ethic."


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