MagazinesPost Magazine

Six degrees

Kenny Hodgart

 

Andy Lau Tak-wah, the actor, Canto-pop singer and film producer, has said he is "sorry" for having starred in Switch, a recent thriller that was panned by critics but took in a healthy 250 million yuan (HK$312 million) at the box office in the mainland. Born in Tai Po, Lau claims that, as a boy, he had to fetch water for his family up to eight times a day as their house did not have plumbing. Now 51, he has appeared in some 150 films, and racked up enough gongs to service a thriving scrap-metal business. A waxwork of Lau can be viewed at Madame Tussauds on The Peak. Another Asian actor represented there is Amitabh Bachchan …

The Indian star's output surpasses even Lau's: he has appeared in more than 180 films, spanning four decades. In 1982, Bachchan (whose son is featured in My life, right) suffered a near-fatal injury to his spleen during filming for the movie Coolie. The public response saw widespread prayers for his recovery and, bizarrely, offers to sacrifice limbs to save him. Bachchan made his Hollywood debut this year, playing a Jewish racketeer in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, an adaptation of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald …

Before establishing himself as a writer, Fitzgerald, who came to be regarded as one the greatest American authors of the 20th century, had a short-lived stint in advertising before taking up a job repairing car roofs to support his writing. It was only when his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was accepted for publication by Scribner's in 1919 that Zelda Sayre - who was later diagnosed as schizophrenic - agreed to marry him. With his wife institutionalised, Fitzgerald had an affair later in life with Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham Westbrook …

Born Lily Shiel in Leeds, northern England, Westbrook worked as a music hall dancer in London before attaining success as a freelance writer. In 1933, she struck out for the United States, where she rose steadily to fame: by 1966, her Hollywood Today column was syndicated in 178 newspapers. She once wrote of a prominent B-movie actor that the "youthful sparkle" in his eyes "is caused by his contact lenses, which he keeps highly polished". The actor was future US president Ronald Reagan …

"The Gipper", as he was popularly known - after playing the role of college football player George Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American - was among the first Americans to wear contact lenses, in the 1960s. It is said that as a politician he sometimes only wore one so he could keep one eye on his speech and the other monitoring which lines won the crowd. As president, Reagan was the subject of a 1981 assassination attempt by gunman John Warnock Hinckley Jnr …

Held in psychiatric care ever since, Hinckley Jnr was found not guilty on the grounds of insanity. The failed songwriter had become obsessed with Martin Scorsese's 1976 film Taxi Driver, the disturbed protagonist of which, Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) plots to assassinate a presidential candidate. Hinckley Jnr had also been stalking Jodie Foster, who plays a child prostitute in the film. Thirty years later, Scorsese directed The Departed, a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller starring Andy Lau Tak-wah.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or