Taiwanese-born actor Mark Chao was stumped when researching for his character Detective Dee in Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon.
"I tried to look up Detective Dee in history books to find out more about the character. However most of the books are about Empress Wu Zetian; there was not much about Detective Dee," the handsome actor tells Star2 in an interview in Hong Kong.
"It was only written in novels about how he cracks cases, hence I have to come up with my own way of portraying the character."
Dee Renjie or Detective Dee is China's answer to Sherlock Holmes, as director Tsui Hark puts it. Dee has a remarkable memory and uses his deduction skills to solve cases.
But aside from these set of skills, Chao feels that Dee has a strong sense of justice and is a brave, honest person.
Although Chao is a fast rising male star in the Chinese movie industry, did he feel the pressure of assuming the role of the younger Detective Dee, a role which beloved veteran star Andy Lau played in the first movie?
"I have much respect for Andy Lau. The stress actually comes from whether I can fulfil the director's expectations," Chao explains.
This is the third collaboration between Chao and Hong Kong starlet Angelababy. They first acted alongside each other in Han Yan's, aptly titled, First Time where Chao played Angelababy's love interest. From their banter during Star2's interview, which was held before the film's gala premiere in Hong Kong last Tuesday, it was evident that these two stars, who describe their relationship as "brothers", share a common understanding that has enabled them to work well together in the movie.
"While waiting on the set, she would fidget and start bugging me. I would be waiting patiently with a book but she would start poking me," Chao reveals.
Angelababy quickly interjects: "We are all young; how could you be reading when everyone is having fun and talking while waiting on the set."
He is very mature and one could see it from the way he carries himself."