SINGAPORE - Local actor Christopher Lee has been talking a lot to his unborn baby about all kinds of things and at every opportunity.
Before attending the recent Star Awards held here with his actress wife Fann Wong, he told his child: "It's going to be noisy inside, don't be scared. Just cover your ears."
Practising his swing at a Taipei golf range in between filming a drama earlier this year, he made a video call to Fann in Singapore. "I was hoping my baby would be able to see me playing golf," says Lee, 42, who also reads children's tales such as Grandma Moon and The Rabbit And The Porcupine to the child.
"As long as it's not too late when I reach home, I will make it a point to talk to the baby or just put my hand on Fann's tummy and stroke it. I believe my baby can hear me," says the Malaysian-born actor in Mandarin.
It is not hard to understand why the seasoned actor is glowing with joy. The dapper Lee is at a good place in life with a child on the way, having tried to start a family since he married Fann in 2009, and an acting career that has found new life since he signed in 2011 with Taiwanese management agency Catwalk. The agency is home to big-name Taiwanese talents such as model-actresses Chiling Lin and Sonia Sui and actor Ethan Ruan.
Returning to Singapore, where he got his break in the local TV station's Star Search in 1995, he takes a lead role in the home-grown movie Filial Party. In it, he plays security guard Ah Beng, whose relationship with his dad is acrimonious. Ironically, he joins a reality show to find the most filial child. It opens tomorrow.
It is clear the topic of his latest movie - filial piety - strikes a chord in him. Throughout this interview with Life!, he emphasises the importance of family.
In real life, he will be inculcating the value of filial piety to his child by example. "Now that I'm going to be a father, my wife and I have agreed that we should go back to Malacca often to see my mother," says Lee, whose 70-year-old mother lives in Malacca. His father died in 2009 of heart problems before he got married.
He has tried to convince his mother to move to Singapore to live with him, Fann and her parents in their Orchard Road condominium, but to no avail.
While many couples prefer to live on their own, Lee says having the extended family live with him and Fann is "livelier". "We like having people around and we still have our privacy once we close the door to our room," says Lee, who has an older sister and two younger brothers.
He is now filming MediaCorp Channel 8 drama Against The Tide. Once he is done with that next month, he is taking leave till September to care for his baby, who is due to be born in August.
It looks like Singapore's golden couple will have no qualms rolling up their sleeves to get dirty with diaper-changing and may end up fighting each other for the privilege.
Lee says with a laugh: "I've told Fann to go ahead to film dramas and movies, so I can have my time with the baby. And she has said the same to me."
"I want to change the diapers and bathe my baby. This is a part of my life that I don't want to miss. We've hired a nanny and I'll be learning from her how to take care of the baby."
The ideal work-life balance he has in mind for himself is to take on local productions so he can be by his child's side during the initial growing years. But the jet-setting daddy will not be giving up on his overseas ambitions. He intends to take his tot to the filming set for visits.
"If I'm filming, Fann will take the kid to the set. And vice versa. We want our child to know what we do for a living. If our child expresses interest in joining show business, I will give my child the freedom to decide," said Lee, who is contemplating offers to star in local and China productions from October after his self-declared paternity leave.