Ron Ng now acts more like a senior actor

He rose to fame playing feckless pilot cadet Yi Feng in the hit 2003 TVB airline drama, Triumph In The Skies. But Hong Kong star Ron Ng once felt that his acting was anything but a triumph.

Now 33, the actor-singer remembers finding his early performances so cringeworthy that he did not dare to watch them.

"I found my acting very unnatural, and so while all the actors would be rushing off to see what we have filmed on the set, I would be shrinking back in the corner," says Ng with a laugh, at an interview at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

"I didn't really know how to act back then, nor did I have that much interest as well," adds the TV idol, looking dapper in a trench coat and glasses.

He was in town last week with co-stars Myolie Wu and Julian Cheung to promote the sequel, Triumph In The Skies II. The 43-episode serial began airing here on StarHub TV On Demand on Monday. It is one of TVB's top-rating shows of the year so far, with a viewership of more than 30 per cent.

In the show, Yi Feng, now a co-pilot, tries to mend the relationship between an aircraft maintenance technician Hsia Chen (Wu), who is also his love interest, and her estranged pilot brother Hsia Yang (Cheung).

Reprising the same character 10 years on, Ng says he has definitely matured. He jokingly bemoans that he has "aged" - he is now able to film for "only" three consecutive days without sleep, whereas he could manage six in the past.

Like Yi Feng, he says, he was an apathetic and reluctant rookie before becoming a passionate professional.

He made his debut as a dancer, joining a dance training class conducted by Hong Kong's leading broadcaster TVB in 1999. After signing a contract with TVB in 2000, he became a television actor, playing minor roles in shows such as the period production Lofty Waters Verdant Bow (2002-2003) and firefighter drama Burning Flame (2002).

"I began to have a bit more interest in acting only while filming Triumph In The Skies because I was starting to learn more about acting then."

After being scolded by the director all the time for not knowing where to position himself on set, he finally decided that he wanted to master the craft. He went for training classes and watched more shows to observe how the veterans did it.

He also got to act with seasoned showbiz hands such as Francis Ng, 51, who plays his brother Yi Chung in both the original series and the sequel.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid the first time I filmed with him" says Ng, alluding to the veteran actor's reputation for losing his temper when people make mistakes on set.

"But after a while, you realise that he is only pretending to be fierce. He used to treat me like a little brother, but now we are good friends."

These days, Ng has become a senior to newer actors such as Rebecca Zhu, 25, who plays a flight stewardess in the sequel.

"I need to be more approachable because people used to say I looked fierce if I didn't talk on the set," says Ng, in a more light-hearted mood compared to his interview with Life! in March, when he criticised TVB's filming conditions.

"Now, I try to crack jokes and make the atmosphere lighter, so that even newcomers will feel comfortable filming with me."

He adds: "Getting older isn't necessarily a bad thing. It means being able to look at events in the past differently. I'm liking acting more and more every day."