Photos: Elis Ching
Video: Vina Chia
Taiwanese actor Kai Ko is slowly becoming a very familiar face here in Singapore, having visited our sunny island twice in less than six months.
The actor, who was last here for the Singapore International Film Festival, where his comeback movie, The Road to Mandalay was screened, returned in April as a special guest for Star Awards 2017, where he presented the Best Actress Award.
In a backstage interview with Toggle, the 25-year-old opened up about his high-profile split from Elva Hsiao and spoke about his plans to fly solo.
The actor, who has less than half a year left in his current contract with film producer Angie Chai’s management company, is preparing to set up his own work studio together with Angie.
“I hope to experience new things, after all, it’s been a while since my debut in 2011 so I hope to be able to try something new, and manage myself more independently,” Kai shared.
The actor seems to have all but bounced back from his drug scandal in 2014, where he was caught using marijuana in China together with Hong Kong actor Jaycee Chan. Following his release from detention, he was dropped from numerous endorsement deals, and even edited out of the movie, Tiny Times 4, which was backed by Chinese sponsors.
During those dark years, Kai kept a low profile and worked on his public image before making his acting comeback in the film, The Road to Mandalay, which premiered in late 2016, two years after news of the scandal first broke out. Critics were sceptical about his comeback but the movie swept awards at film festivals and award shows (Ed's note: Kai bagged the Best Actor award from the Youth Film Handbook magazine, and was a nominee for the Best Actor award at the Golden Horse Awards in 2016), and the rest is history.
As promotions for The Road to Mandalay has ended, the actor let on that he's currently busy looking at scripts for his next project, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
The easy-going chap also shared that he’s not picky over his co-stars or director. His only condition? “The script needs to be able to draw me in within a few reads,” he replied.
Kai Ko at the Star Awards 2017 Walk of Fame.
Movies or dramas
While Kai had his first big break from the wildly popular coming-of-age idol film, You Are the Apple of My Eye, idol films seem be a mixed bag for him now.
The actor laughed, as if embarrassed, when the prospect of him starring in the upcoming remake of Meteor Garden, which will be produced by Angie, was brought up.
"No, I'm too old for that! They're looking for 18 to 20 year old actors, not me," he laughed, although he later professed his hopes of appearing in an idol drama.
Apart from being “too old” to make the cut for idol-related projects, Kai revealed that dramas are a whole new ball game for him as he has been working exclusively on silver screen projects. The Taiwanese actor also added that he has heard stories of how taxing the filming process can be.
“I think it’s a new challenge [for me]. I’ve heard many people say that it will be tiring [filming for a drama] and that it’s scary. [But] I find it quite interesting [to be] filming every single day,” he let on.
As he was in town for an award ceremony that honoured the best of local dramas, the actor did not rule out the chances of him appearing in one of our local Channel 8 shows in the future, too, saying, “Of course! If they (drama producers) approach me, we can discuss [more about it]. But, no one has approached me so far,” he added.
(Continued on the next page: What the actor thinks of the rumours surrounding him and alleged girlfriend, Taiwanese singer-actress Tia Li)
From L-R: Elva Hsiao, Kai Ko, Tia Li
Who is he dating?
Another part of Kai’s life (apart from his drug scandal and showbiz comeback) that is under heavy scrutiny is his personal relationships with Taiwanese songstress Elva Hsiao (the large age-gap couple had a 12-year difference between them) and Taiwanese singer-actress Tia Li.
After Elva and Kai broke up in 2014, he was linked to Tia, with photographs of the duo going on dates often making headlines. However, they have never formally confirmed their romance, and would only refer to each other as “good friends” during interviews.
When asked about the rumours between him and Tia, Kai only had this to say: “I think we’ll just let the rumours continue spreading then,” declining to elaborate more on the matter.
However, Kai did admit that things are “a little awkward” between him and his ex-girlfriend, Elva, sharing that he did not contact the singer to console her after news of her recent break-up with a Caucasian man called Michael.
Finally, when asked to name an actress that he hopes to work with next, Kai named Taiwanese actress Shu Qi as his preferred partner, sharing that he admires “everything” about her.
“I know that she’s already married, but I just really admire her! She gives off a very personable feel, and I really like her character,” he gushed.