In a major departure from her usual glamorous persona, Hong Kong-based actress Karena Lam makes a stunning physical transformation for her role in Declared Legally Dead (Cantonese title Sei Yan Mou Hor Yi)
Vancouver-born Lam, 41, plays Shum Chi Ling, a frumpy and portly homemaker stricken with amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye. Her character in the Steve Yuen-helmed suspense thriller also suffers from mobility issues.
The role required Lam to sport a pronounced belly, so she initially tried wearing a fake belly, but the result was not convincing enough.
When the director hinted that she would have to sacrifice a little, Lam decided to let her waistline expand for real.
"It is very easy to put on weight. Just keep eating supper late at night. After one month, you can already see results of over a dozen pounds weight gain, " she said.
For a more realistic portrayal, Lam stopped dyeing her hair or applying hand lotion three months before the cameras started rolling. "You can use special paint to achieve the white streaks, but it will look rather fake under high-definition lens," explained the actress who has won multiple awards for her roles in July Rhapsody (2012) and Zinnia Flower (2015).
To simulate the limp, Lam attached a five-pound (2.3kg) weight to her calves and practised daily.
As for the visual defect, Lam did some research with visually-impaired individuals and settled on wearing special contact lenses that were larger than a Hong Kong five dollar coin (2.7cm).
The optometrist advised no more than four hours of usage, but Lam decided to keep them on for longer to help her delve into character.
"The special contact lens really obscured my sight. My left eye could not see clearly after I put it on. So, whenever I heard a sound, I would naturally turn my head to that side."
The cast also includes Anthony Wong, Carlos Chan, Liu Kai Chi, Stephen Au, and Kathy Yuen.