Video: Charlene Chong
Christopher Lee, Mark Lee and Li Nanxing will team up for the first time in their decades-long careers in upcoming comedy flick The Fortune Handbook. Appearing together at the film’s commencement ceremony on October 31 sans the female lead, Vivian Lai, who had other commitments to attend, the three Ah Ges bantered around during the presser and the subsequent interviews, often taking time to poke fun at each other in the midst of fielding questions from the media.
Sharing that they have already completed their imaging sessions, the trio remained tight-lipped about the details of their characters and the plots, only letting on that Mark will play an interning God of Fortune, Nanxing a proud owner of a biscuit recipe honed to perfection, and Christopher the good-for-nothing brother-in-law who dreams of making a quick buck by selling said recipe.
Joining in the mix are fresh faces Jazliyana Lee and Xavier Ong, who will portray Christopher and Vivian’s children. Coincidentally, the pair are said to have “the closest connection” to Mark’s character after leading the fledgling God of Fortune home one day.
“I think the director has really done a good job of casting all three of us for this,” Mark chuckled in an interview with Toggle. “Nanxing and Chris are always busy with their work overseas and I’m busy enough with all the programmes in Singapore that I don’t even have time to venture abroad, but he managed to find a window where all three of us are available and we can finally work together!”
“I think we can consider making the three Lee/Lis a brand name of sorts, in future, we can act in police dramas with Nanxing and idol dramas with Christopher - and I can play his dad,” Mark continued, much to the amusement of the other two. Not to be outdone, Nanxing deadpanned, “Before we came into the room earlier, Mark asked us not to worry (since he’s the veteran at comedies), saying that he’d take care of everything!” which was swiftly met with a denial from Mark.
(Continued on next page: Chris on his baby-making plans, Mark shares about putting family first and Nanxing opens up on how he manages his talent label)
L-R: Mark Lee, Li Nanxing, Kelvin Sng, Christopher Lee, Xavier Ong, Jazliyana Lee
Apart from speaking at length about their movie, the trio also took time to update us with the goings-on in their lives.
Christopher, who has been reported to be aiming for a second child in the near future, mused on his baby-making plans, “I think this is all up to fate. While I definitely hope that I’ll be able to have another baby soon, we won’t force things.”
Chuckling that Mark’s comment about asking his missus, Fann Wong, to come onto set to “speed things up” was made in jest, he declared to the staff, “If I suddenly request to go home early, please remember to say yes!” Mark chimed in, “The five-day window is really precious - him needing to go home means there’s an egg waiting for him!”
While daddy-of-three Mark had no tips to share other than for the media to not give Fann and Chris too much pressure about having more kids, he shared that he has turned down requests to host variety programmes overseas because he places his family first. “If I were to go overseas to work, I’ll be there for at least six months to a year - my kids are growing up now so I don’t want to sacrifice time with them for this,” he explained.
Nanxing shared that while he and Constance Song might still be the only two artistes under his management label, LNX Global, he is in no rush to sign on more stars. “The most important thing for us is to have something for the artistes to do once we sign them on. There’s no point in signing them and letting them do one thing once a year or so - I think it’s important to have a plan in mind for them before we even take this step,” he philosophised.
“These days, some of the younger ones will ask us directly, ‘How much can you pay me a month?’ I’d ask in return, ‘How much are you worth?’ If they can’t even answer this question, that means that they aren’t worth a single cent.”
While he has it all planned out in real life, Nanxing chuckled that he hasn’t quite figured out how he will deal with his first comedic role. “What am I supposed to do when I see the God of Fortune? What sort of expressions should I give? I think I’ll have to figure it out as I go,” he quipped.
“The three of us will do our jobs during filming - as for whether the final product is funny enough to attract audiences, this is all on our director Kelvin Sng (...) he has to be able to edit the film to have the right pace to make it funny and market it so that we can do well at the box office,” Mark declared.
Ball’s in your court, director.
The Fortune Handbook is slated for a 2017 Lunar New Year release in cinemas.