To this day, Hong Kong actor Lawrence Ng has TV fans calling him Dr Paul Ching, his character in the popular TVB medical drama series Healing Hands, which ran for three seasons (1998, 2000, 2005).
With his spectacles and genteel features, he looks every bit like the sensitive neurosurgeon he played in the show, but he says he could never be a doctor off-screen.
The 51-year-old says in mock horror: "I'm afraid of blood. I feel disgusted when I watch real operations. I can't imagine myself holding a scalpel to operate on a person.
"I'm okay when I'm acting because I know we are using fake blood," he adds. Last year, he divorced his Chinese actress wife Yugo Shi Yangzi, with whom he has a six-year-old daughter.
He was in town last week for a fan meet held by StarHub and Hong Kong TV broadcaster TVB to celebrate Singapore's Golden Jubilee.
In the lead-up to the StarHub TVB awards in October, more TVB artists will hold meet-and-greet sessions here. There will also be exhibitions showcasing TVB drama props and costumes.
Ng was not always Mr Nice Guy. He played a promiscuous scholar in the soft-porn movie Sex And Zen (1991), a corrupt lawyer in the period movie Hail The Judge (1994), as well as baddies in TV dramas, such as an unfilial son in The Feud Of Two Brothers (1986).
Playing the likeable Dr Ching in Healing Hands gave his image a scrub-down and he went on to play positive leading man roles, including reprising a doctor in the medical drama The Hippocratic Crush II (2013). Last year, he played a correctional services officer in the prison drama Tomorrow Is Another Day.
1) Having filmed three seasons of medical drama Healing Hands and the second season of The Hippocratic Crush, how much medical knowledge did you pick up?
During filming, there were doctors giving us guidance. We were just playing doctors, so we didn't have to commit all that information to memory. I'd often forget everything the next day.
2) You acted alongside singer Kit Chan in Healing Hands II (2000). What was she like on the set?
She's happy-go-lucky and friendly. She invited me to watch her musical Snow.Wolf.Lake, which starred Cantopop superstar Jacky Cheung.
I was blown away by her singing. It's a pity she was eliminated on the singing reality programme I Am A Singer (2015). But I feel she is already a winner.
3) You're often seen bespectacled in your TV roles such as Dr Paul Ching in Healing Hands. Do you prefer seeing yourself with or without glasses?
I am short-sighted, so I need glasses. TV producers feel that I look better with them. I take them off when I do period dramas.
I wear glasses on my days off. I wear contact lens only when I do sports or go cycling.
4) Do you prefer playing a villain or a hero?
I'd rather play a good person. I've always felt uncomfortable playing a villain. Perhaps it is because of my sense of justice - my dad was a policeman and my ambition was to be a policeman when I was young.
5) You starred in the box-office hit Sex And Zen (1991). Were you not afraid that your image would take a hit by starring in a Category III film?
I started my acting career taking on villain roles, so I didn't really have to worry about maintaining a pristine image.
6) What kind of father are you - a strict dad or a friend to your daughter?
I believe in being both a friend and a strict parent. I can be strict but I also dote on my daughter. You can't spoil kids. When she is in the wrong, I will explain to her why her behaviour was not right. I will scold her.
7) Are you looking for love again?
I do have female friends, I will still go on dates. But I'm in no hurry to find a partner.
8) How would you like to be remembered?
I hope audiences remember me for the positive energy they get from my TV roles. Students have said they are inspired to be doctors after watching me play a good doctor in dramas.
This article was first published on July 13, 2015.
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