Who can forget actor-comedian Ng Mang Tat's portrayal as Stephen Chow's uncle in the prestigious "God And Gamblers" franchise and his outstanding performance as a handicapped soccer coach in Chow's 2001 box office record-breaking comedy, "Shaolin Soccer"? Ng, whom most Chinese-speaking fans know him as Tat Gor, has only always been a supporting actor throughout his illustrious career. But although he may never become the male lead in any of the movies he is involved in, his knack for comedic timing in Chow's comedies and television dramas has created a lasting impression in the hearts of the Asian comedy fans for a long time. He is also the reason that actor-director Namewee's upcoming musical comedy "Kara King" is so hyped up, as the 60-year-old will be playing the former's washed up father. And luckily for us, we were able to sit down with the comedian for an interview during the set visit of the Chinese New Year film.
Cinema Online interview with Ng Mang Tat conducted on 4 July at Tras, Pahang.
Q: Hi, Tat Gor. Firstly, tell us how you got involved in "Kara King"?
Ng: During Chinese New Year this year, Namewee and Fred Chong came to find me in Johor as I was back to celebrate the festive season with my family. Oh, my wife and kids are living in Johor. I didn't know anything about these two filmmakers, so they gave me a DVD of "Nasi Lemak 2.0". But I did not watch it until my family made me and I was amazed. The story was really interesting. I was surprised that Namewee could blend in so many open-minded elements together with the comedy in a Malaysian film and, I glimpsed the shadow of Stephen Chow. After some persuasion from my family, I decided to take up the role they offered to me in "Kara King".
Q: Can you tell us a little about your character in this movie?
Ng: I'm playing a karaoke champion who is also Namewee's father. In the film, I am hated by my son after my wife left me due to a misunderstanding as he thinks I've mistreated her.
Q: You have always acted in Cantonese films. Do you have any difficulties conversing in many different languages for this film?
Ng: I have no idea how to speak some of the languages but I am trying my best as the director has requested me to speak more Cantonese, a little bit of Malay, Mandarin and English in the film.
Q: Tat Gor, as someone who has survived the golden age of Hong Kong comedies, now that film critics have started to lose faith to the genre, what, in your opinion, is missing in these films?
Ng: To be honest, those movies lacked talents like Namewee. You need gutsy people like him who are willing to try new stuff, such as what he did for "Nasi Lemak 2.0". He was brave enough to include some of the things that Stephen and I would not even have guts to touch on 20 years ago.
Q: Among all the characters you have played, which is your favourite?
Ng: I love all of them. I've starred with Andy Lau, Simon Yam and Stephen Chow. All of us speak Cantonese, so it's easy for me to act with them. However, I would say acting in "Kara King" is very special for me because I have to speak so many languages. English, Malay, Cantonese and Hokkien, you name it! In the movie, I was thrilled when an Indian actor spoke Hokkien with me. It's really exciting.
Q: We all knew that you are Stephen Chow's best partner. Is there any chance that you will work with him again?
Ng: As long as both of us are not retiring, we will have the opportunity to collaborate with each other again, but who knows. Stephen currently has his own business to manage and most of the time he is working on behind-the-scenes work. It's rare to see him acting onscreen these days.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Ng: Yes, I'm going to finish shooting a film in Beijing soon, although I can't let out more details yet.
Q: Thank you for your time, Tat Gor.
Ng: You are welcome.