Andy Lau has won so many awards in his 35 years of being an entertainer that it has become difficult to keep track of the exact number.
The Hong Kong star is not bothered by it, though.
"It's not important, it never was for me. If I get an award, it is wonderful, but if I don't, it's okay because I know how much effort I have put into something. That's what you need to do every time you start any work - you need to make sure you do your very best and just be yourself. That's more important," said Lau in an exclusive interview in Beijing, China. Lau was there to promote his latest film, The Great Wall, which was directed by renown Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
The film opened in Malaysia on Dec 29 and also stars Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Jing Tian, Luhan and Eddie Peng. It follows the story of two foreign mercenaries who inadvertently get involved in a war between elite Chinese warriors and savage monsters called the "taotie".
(Trivia: In 2002, Lau starred in Infernal Affairs as a triad member who joined the police force to become a mole. In 2006, a Hollywood adaptation of the movie was released as The Departed, which saw Damon playing the same character.)
Lau plays a strategist in The Great Wall, and speaks English most of the time. "When I was preparing for the character, I had to think about his background and what he was like, in English.
"It was not that easy but at the same time, I felt it was important to do it that way because he is supposed to be a scholar, a thinking man. And he needs to communicate with the foreigners in English," Lau revealed.
The 55-year-old actor and singer also spoke English throughout the entire interview, and was also very gracious and, one might add, stylish. He did not look his age, although he claimed he is starting to feel it sometimes. "I try not to do action films where I need to fight all the time or do a lot of physical work. I think fighting is a little bit hard for me now," he said laughing and, at the same time, giving a pained look in his face and making gestures as if to say that his body is no longer up for it.
Not that Lau is known for action flicks anyway. He has done close to 200 movies, and while many of them seem to be police dramas and period films, there are only a handful in which Lau has had to do any major physical work (2000's A Fighter's Blues comes to mind).
In fact, you would be surprised what his favourite movie genre is when it comes to choosing projects.
"Light comedy! Action-packed films, maybe not. But if there is a good script then OK, I can start to practise and manage it," he said. Lau is also not averse to working on more Hollywood films - The Great Wall is produced by Legendary Pictures - although he isn't particularly looking to break into the Western market.
"If someone wants me to be in their film, just let me know! If I have the time and if the project suits me, then I might do it. But I am not aggressively trying to look for something from there. I prefer to make more local movies," he said.
Lau, who married his longtime girlfriend from Malaysia, Carol Chu, in 2008 (they have been together for 28 years reportedly), is a private man. He and Chu have a daughter together, who was born in 2012, but they are hardly ever photographed together. He also rarely talks about his family and is cautious with answers when asked about them.
"Do you think you have slowed down with your work now that you are a family man and perhaps want to spend more time with them?" I asked.
"I am very good with time management and my staff will tell you that I am a well disciplined man too! Of course, I have my priorities. Number one is my family, my parents. Number two is my fans, three, my staff and four, my career. That's all I need to focus on," he said.