Kelly the mum plays hooky

Even though filming her latest movie, Horseplay, meant she had to be away from her two young sons, Hong Kong star Kelly Chen relished the experience.

On filming the new movie, which was shot on location in Prague and London for a month last July, she recalls with a laugh: "I had so much personal time. It was strange but also great - that feeling of being single again.

"The cities were so beautiful, and since we were filming a light-hearted comedy, I felt no burden, no worries at all. I was so happy every day."

However, the 41-year-old, whose sons Chace and Riley are aged four and two, admits she was "very worried" initially about leaving them behind in Hong Kong.

"As soon as I got on the plane to Europe, I missed my sons and worried about how they would do without me. But after the first week went by and everything was fine, I was okay. If I missed them, I would just take out my phone and watch videos of them," she says. In Horseplay, now showing in cinemas, Chen plays a TV reporter who works with a detective (Ekin Cheng) to track down an elusive international thief known as the Nine-Tailed Fox (Tony Leung Ka Fai).

One of her character's hobbies is rock-climbing, a sport that the actress-singer picked up for the movie.

While filming an indoor rock climbing scene, Chen's harness snapped and she fell to the ground from a height of about 1.5m.

"Luckily, the floor was padded so I didn't hurt myself too badly other than a slight pull in my neck.

"Rock-climbing is not easy at all. I really had to use all my muscle strength," she says, before adding with a laugh: "My muscles, meaning the ones in my toes."

In her 20-minute interview with Life! to promote the movie, Chen sounds sunny and relaxed, and is refreshingly candid.

Unlike many celebrities who clam up over personal questions, she is open about discussing her children and her parenting style.

She lets on, for example, that she was concerned about being away from home as her businessman husband Alex Lau, 40, tends to be more lax with the boys. The couple got married in 2008.

"Even when my children are coughing, he will cave in to their demands and feed them chips. I'm okay with them eating junk food but not when they're sick. They end up coughing all night and don't sleep well. That's the type of thing I'm worried about," she says. However, her husband is strict when it comes to exposing the kids in public.

She says: "Many people have approached us to ask if the boys could be featured in advertisements, but my husband doesn't allow it."

Still, she wants to be able to take her kids out of the house and lead a normal life as much as possible. The family reportedly live in Hong Kong's Kadoorie Hill.

"Hong Kong is too small, where can I possibly hide them anyway? So I'll still go out with them," she says.

"I'm pretty all right with people taking pictures of them. I don't think the tabloids will really run anything negative about them. They're just kids."

With so much testosterone in the household, is she eager to have a daughter?

She says, chuckling: "I don't mind having a girl, but only if I'm not the one who has to give birth. Pregnancy is really very tough, so I think I'm fine for now."

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