Here's the question of the week: who's the most successful post-handover local actor? Most people would say Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Andy Lau Tak-wah or Stephen Chow Sing-Chi. But the award goes to ... Lam Suet. Only the fans so dedicated to Johnnie To Kei-fung that they would sit through the making-of documentary of the director's 1997 film Lifeline would notice the chubby man smiling at the camera. That 'fat boy' was Lam, who was then not even an actor but one of the many production assistants responsible for arranging lunch boxes, lugging film equipment and generally being at the beck and call of higher-paid staff. He was the kind of person who, in the words of the legendary football coach Bill Shankly, 'carries the piano' to allow the more creative souls to play it. One day, To gave in to Lam's requests and gave him a small part, a villain's role in Expect the Unexpected. Since then, he has starred in various supporting or minor roles. They are mostly comedic characters that provide comic relief in To's dark and intense action thrillers. Lam got his first big break in The Mission (1999), in which he played a low-key hitman in a team of sharpshooters who are hired to protect a gang lord. Boasting a strong lineup including award-winning actors Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Francis Ng Chun-yu, the film is now a cult classic. Lam's quiet yet forceful performance - a combination of deadpan humour and no-nonsense steeliness - is much celebrated by action fans. In PTU (2003), Lam stars as a bumbling sergeant who loses his pistol in a fight and sparks off a series of bloody events on a fateful night in Tsim Sha Tsui. The film was another watershed for Lam, and a role that won him Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Bauhinia Awards. Lam's most recent film is To's Exiled, in which he plays a hitman on the run. There is a quiet scene in which his character, walking across a hill with his gang, talks to himself about love. 'How heavy is love?' he asks. Then he replies to himself: 'But that's silly, because you couldn't quantify love.' This is classic Lam Suet - a deadly shooter, a quiet and sensitive thinker and a teddy bear - all at the same time.