TAIWAN- During the filming of an emotional family scene in the new period action-fantasy The Four 2, Taiwanese actor Collin Chou was worried he would break down.
The 46-year-old tells Life! that shortly before he was scheduled to film a heart-rending fall-out scene with his screen sister, who is played by Chinese actress Liu Yifei, tragedy struck his own family in real life.
"My youngest sister had depression and committed suicide," he says solemnly in Mandarin over the telephone from Beijing where he was doing promotions for the film.
"I did have worries that I wouldn't be able to go through with that scene, but I am an actor and I still have to do my job."
The film, which opens here on Jan 9, is a follow-up to last year's The Four, about a quartet of crime fighters with superhero-like abilities. Chou plays Iron Hands, a man who has strong arms and is adept with metalwork.
Throughout the filming of the sequel, the actor kept his troubles to himself.
Things got worse on his home front. After he finished filming and the movie was in post-production, his second youngest sister also committed suicide because of depression.
Says the actor frankly: "Between the two incidents, there were about six months where I just had to go about my work as profesionally as I could.
"Moviegoers want to see your performance on screen, not see you lay out all your personal issues. So I just did my job, even though it was really very tough to bear."
Chou, who has eight brothers and two other sisters, adds: "Maybe depression runs in the family. I try not to think too much about these things. I still have to go about my life."
In a separate interview with Life!, the movie's director Gordon Chan describes Chou as "admirable" for remaining professional in the face of personal tragedy.
Chan, 54, recalls: "He did not tell anyone about what he was facing, and revealed it to the rest of us only at the press conference recently. The only thing I noticed was that he was extremely quiet that day but otherwise, everything went on as normal.
"This sounds terrible now that we know what happened, but I had been so happy at the time because he acted out the scene with so much emotion. He nailed the scene."