Liu takes the big step in her stride
Just a few years ago, Annie Liu Hsin-you was selling shoes at a mall in Vancouver. Now the Hong Kong-based, Taiwanese-born actress gets her thrills from challenging film roles, and her latest is playing a woman on the brink of an emotional breakdown.
Exodus is a thriller directed by Edmond Pang Ho-cheung, whose other film, Isabella, was well received at many international film festivals. In her latest role, Liu (left) plays yoga instructor Cheung Fong who seeks revenge on her cheating husband (Simon Yam Tat-wah). Exodus is a chapter in the Old Testament depicting how Moses led the Hebrew slaves from Egypt and Liu thinks the title is a metaphor for helping the down-trodden to find fresh hope.
'Cheung Fong thought her husband was her hope and felt comfortable about it, but when things went wrong she lost that hope and started having these weird thoughts.'
Liu says she understands the pain of being hurt, but doesn't agree with Cheung's murderous response. 'I would hate it if I found out my husband was cheating on me. The only difference is, if I were her, I would leave this guy and find my new hope instead of hurting someone in return,' Liu says.
Liu, who has lived in Hong Kong for two years and has made three films in the city, says she still finds it difficult to read her lines in Cantonese.
'It's a difficult language. I remember at one meeting with Pang, he told me to read some sentences from a piece of paper and I had so many words that I couldn't pronounce, he told me I had to work on it before shooting started.'
And work she did, preparing for the role three months before filming began. Now the actress can master media interviews with almost fluent Cantonese, but is modest about her progress. 'It is easy to learn phrases in Cantonese if you're a tourist, but reading lines with a certain tone or accent, there is still room for me to improve.'
The actress was sent alone to Vancouver at the age of 14 to study, where she also worked part-time at shopping malls to pay off her school fees. 'I was the only child in the family and my parents didn't want me to grow up in a glasshouse,' the 26-year-old says.
A visit home provided the start of her acting career. 'Two years ago, I flew back to see my parents and I accompanied a friend to a casting for Mob Sister in Taiwan. After that I was asked to come for a second casting here in Hong Kong. That's how I got into acting, I never dreamt of being an actress.'
Liu was chosen from thousands of young women to play a supporting role opposite A-list actors including Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Eric Tsang Chi-wai and Karena Lam Ka-yan in Mob Sister.
Exodus opens on Thursday