Legend to live up to

Taiwanese actor Eddie Peng admits he is feeling "immense pressure" about playing the role of legendary martial artist Wong Fei Hung in his upcoming movie, Rise Of The Legend.

Speaking to Life! at an interview yesterday, the 32-year-old heart-throb says frankly that it took him a while to mull over the role before accepting it.

"I was really struggling over whether I should take the role because everyone will have such high expectations of it and make inevitable comparisons between how I play him versus how other actors have played him," he says in Mandarin.

"But I decided to take it on because it's really a role I couldn't say no to - or I would regret it. I grew up watching Wong Fei Hung action movies and you just don't pass up on amazing opportunities like this."

Directed by Hong Kong's Roy Chow (Nightfall, 2012), this blockbuster actioner also stars Sammo Hung, Tony Leung Ka Fai and Angelababy.

Peng was flown into town by luxury brand Longines, for which he is an ambassador, to grace the Longines Singapore Gold Cup equestrian race.

He says Rise Of The Legend will show "a very different kind of Wong Fei Hung. This is a younger version and the story is about his roots and how he first started so it'll be a fresh take on the character. This is not a heroic Wong Fei Hung, it is about the flawed guy that he was before he became a hero".

He puts his hands together in mock prayer and adds: "I only hope that audiences will be receptive to my portrayal when the movie comes out."

Other actors who have played the gongfu legend in the past include Jet Li, Vincent Zhao and the late Kwan Tak Hing.

Peng adds: "I've learnt a lot playing him. I took almost a year to learn nanquan, the gongfu style required of the role, and it was really, really hard work, but you discover how much you can do along the way."

This is hardly the first time that the boyishly handsome actor has been so physically tested for a role. In fact, he has developed a reputation for being someone who goes to extremes to perfect the skills required of his movie roles - many of which are tough on the body.

In his acclaimed role as a gymnast in Jump! Ashin (2011), he spent 12 hours a day for eight consecutive months training in the gym to perfect jumps and flips. For his role as a boxer in last year's Unbeatable, he did weight training for three months before shooting started and continued his gym routine every night even after 10 hours of filming.

He has also just wrapped up filming for cycling movie To The Fore, for which he rode at least 120km each day for several months, on top of punishing training in the gym.

The bachelor says with a chuckle: "I'm really feeling quite tired. I thought I would be able to rest after filming Rise Of The Legend, but director Dante Lam tricked me to sign on to To The Fore, saying that the cycling wouldn't be so tough. I've cycled so much I can now participate in professional cycling competitions."

In that movie, slated for release next year, he stars alongside South Korean singer-actor Choi Si Won of boyband Super Junior.

Working with the pop idol was "lots of fun" because the 28-year-old acts like "a big boy", says Peng with a chuckle.

"We got along really well and would hang out outside of filming. He was really shocked to find out I was so much older than him and that he would have to call me 'hyung' (respectful Korean term for older brother).

"But we're so goofy all the time so I call him 'oppa' (another Korean term for older brother, which should be used only by women) for fun. The movie's vibe is so youthful and full of energy, it carried over to the entire cast."


This article was first published on November 17, 2014.
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