Hong Kong actor Julian Cheung Chilam had a blast shooting Herman Yau-helmed action thriller The Leakers, which was filmed in Penang a year ago.
Malaysians first discovered that the Hong Kong action thriller was being shot in George Town when video clips of car chase scenes at Campbell Road went viral last year.
In a phone interview from Hong Kong last week, the 46-year-old shared that although he was again portraying a law enforcement officer, it was very different from his usual cop roles.
In The Leakers, Cheung plays a Malaysian police inspector named Lee Weng Kan who is investigating a criminal case which takes him to Hong Kong.
His co-stars include Francis Ng who plays a Hong Kong cop, Kent Cheng who portrays a Malaysian pharmaceutical tycoon and Charmaine Sheh, Sam Lee, and Louis Cheung who play investigative journalists. Supporting acts include Chrissie Chau, Wilfred Lau, Michelle Wai and Dominic Lau.
Portraying a Malaysian for the first time, Cheung says he was not sure whether to appear fair or tanned when he was making the initial physical preparations for his role.
"I found that many of my Malaysian friends are actually fairer than me, so I tried to make my complexion a bit fairer," the Hong Kong actor said.
"Initially, I went out to sun myself in order to look darker. Later, I realised when I didn't have to be tanned, I started spending most of my time indoors to get fairer again!"
Although he prides himself on having a flair for languages, Cheung admitted that having to deliver his lines in Bahasa Malaysia was quite tough.
"Speaking in Malay was actually very challenging for me. There were quite a number of scenes of me speaking in Malay. But very few probably made the final cut. They were beyond comprehension, I can imagine," he said.
"This being my first time speaking Malay, I had no idea what I was saying. Apparently, neither did the other actors whom I shared scenes with!
"The Malaysian actress playing the domestic helper got a bit confused when I delivered my lines in Malay."
But his favourite part of shooting in Malaysia was getting to feast on durians.
"We became durian experts. We've eaten so many durians that we can even do blind tastings now. We know what durians we are eating even when blindfolded!" said Cheung with a laugh.
Cheung also expressed surprise that the durians in Penang are named after real people.
"In Penang, there are so many varieties of durians. Apart from Musang King, they have varieties such as Joan Lin (Jackie Chan's wife), Wong Fei Hung and Aunt 13.
"Unfortunately, the Joan Lin variety was sold out, so we only got to try varieties such as Musang King, Sultan, and Red Prawn.
"We didn't get to taste Centipede either, but we learnt a lot. Hopefully, one day I can also have durians named after me too!"