In an acting career spanning four decades, Damian Lau Chung Yan has played swashbuckling heroes, kindly fathers and scheming villains.
However, the versatile veteran does not think that he has the gravitas to play former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew if the chance came up.
On the telephone from Hong Kong, the 64-year-old actor says: "I don't have that aura. That imposing manner of his is not something you can just act out. That's very difficult."
The topic comes up when, asked about his impressions of Singapore, Lau praises the country as a great place and adds that Mr Lee is his idol.
He says: "Mr Lee is very capable and he's given a lot. The contributions of the older generation of politicians cannot be denied."
Lau, who has been performing in Singapore since the 1970s, calls the changes it has undergone a "miracle".
He will be here again on May 10 for a Mother's Day concert along with other Hong Kong artists, including Nancy Sit and Eric Tsang.
The actor, who is married but has no children, shares at least one trait with the politician he admires - longevity in his chosen field.
He first rose to fame in 1976 for playing the titular martial arts hero in TVB's Luk Siu Fung and has worked steadily through the years.
His regular acting partner in the 1980s was Michelle Yim and they were often referred to as the best onscreen couple. He says about their chemistry: "We just understand each other tacitly and we trust each other."
He says that they have always gotten along well off-camera and adds: "We have worked together for so many years that if the relationship wasn't good, we would have become enemies already."
Lau has also worked with rival television station ATV and on projects in China.
He returned to TVB in 1992 in the hit series The Greed Of Man and, more recently, starred in the station's period drama Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles (2012).
For playing a barrister with four wives in that serial, he was nominated for a TVB Anniversary Award for Best Actor.
The role attracted controversy for Lau's passionate kissing scenes with his much younger onscreen spouses. There was even some playful lip-biting from Tavia Yeung, 34, who played his fourth wife.
Lau declines to talk about it. He says: "Once you watch the scene, we can talk about it in a more in-depth manner. I don't care what others say. People can say what they like.
"When I act in TV series, I don't deliberately go for sensationalism. But if the audiences feel that way, there's nothing I can do about that."
Nor is he doing anything about retirement for the moment. He says jokingly: "I would love to retire but when the hunger pangs hit, I have no choice but to work."
Asked for his advice for younger actors and he says: "Don't be afraid of hardship. The most important thing is to be diligent and to constantly have acting on your mind. And when you meet someone more experienced than you are, you can share and learn from each other and nourish yourself through these encounters."
MOTHER'S DAY SPECIAL - HONG KONG SUPERSTARS IN CONCERT
Where: Resorts World Convention Centre, Compass Ballroom
When: May 10, 8pm
Admission: $98 to $188 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
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