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By John Li

The response was immediate when 47-year-old Andy Lau was asked what about what acting accolades he expects from his heart-wrenching performance in Peter Chan’s latest war epic The Warlords.

“I don’t even think about it,” says the actor straightforwardly during an interview with MovieXclusive.com.

“In fact, I feel awkward about it. I will never know what the judges like. I only know I act for my audiences,” Lau tells us candidly. The actor-producer-singer has been awarded the Best Actor at the 2004 Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai’s Running on Karma. In the same year, he beat Tony Leung to clinch the Best Actor trophy at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards for acting in Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs III.

Having worked with many other acclaimed filmmakers like Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) and Jacob Cheung (Battle of Wits), Lau feels that directors can only gradually gain confidence from him through the process of shooting the movie.

“It’s like making friends. You slowly know what the person is like the first few times you meet. Then you become more certain about what kind of person he is.

“I’m sure the next time I star in a Peter Chan film, the trust will be there from the beginning,” Lau adds.

In his latest big screen outing, Lau plays a charismatic bandit leader who becomes blood brothers with his lieutenant (played by heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro) and a disgraced army general (played by action star Jet Li). A clash of ideals eventually results in the three men turning against each other.

One of the highlights of the movie is a ten-odd-minute battle scene involving thousands of extras, horses, bows and arrows – simply put it, a logistic nightmare. Lau states: “This was definitely the most difficult part about the movie. I thought the director was going to use fake horses. But no, we had to ride on real ones!”

On working with the award-winning director, the handsome Kaneshiro and the athletic Li, Lau feels no pressure at all.

“I’m good-looking myself, and I can fight quite well too, so there’s no stress working with them at all,” laughs the amiable Lau.

Lau’s on-screen wife is played by the talented 33-year-old Xu Jinglei, who is a director herself, having won the Silver Seashell at the 2004 San Sebastian International Film Festival with her work A Letter From An Unknown Woman. Like Lau who affectionately calls her “lao po” (wife) during a press conference held earlier, Xu feels no pressure working with her director and co-stars on The Warlords.

“The three men are very good people,” the beautiful Xu tells us during a separate interview. “On set, we are all doing our jobs and we all colleagues. No one is a star and they are actors like me,” she adds matter-of-factly.

Xu also thinks that being a director herself; she understands Chan’s requirements of her.

“The credit goes to the director who is able to draw the performance he wants out from me. I just try my best to adjust to his needs and not give him too much trouble,” explains the Beijing-born beauty.

On her last film Confession of Pain, Xu played Tony Leung’s long-suffering wife. However, she does not mind that viewers think that she seems to be perpetually playing supporting characters.

“I just happen to act in movies which feature male leading stars. Let’s just say I’m the female star among the guys.”

Given a choice, would Xu prefer directing or acting?

Without hesitation, she says: “At different points of my life, I’d like to try different things. If given a choice, I’d want to direct personal films and act in commercially-viable ones.”

Read our interview with director Peter Chan here.

The Warlords opens 13 December and is reviewed here.

Listen to Andy Lau and Xu Jinglei talks about THE WARLORDS during the Press Conference:


Video Clips & Photos : Richard Lim Jr & Lokman B S | Interviews: John Li | Layout: Linus Tee
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