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At Her Pace

王烨昇 Johnny Wang 2018-04-09 10:22

The first time I saw Rosamund Kwan was in the 1993 film The Magic Crane. Compared to the cool, aggressive Butterfly Lam on the screen, the real person in front of me is an easy-going, smiley, and charming lady. In fact, now Kwan looks more confident and energetic. 


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The Acting Career of Hopes and Tears


Rosamund Kwan has created a series of impressive and classic characters on the screen. In The Magic Crane, Kwan co-starred with Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Anita Mui and the then-young and unsophisticated Tielin Zhang. In this film she interpreted an iconic and emotional Butterfly Lam. 


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In Swordsman II, Jet Li was still a shy young boy and Brigitte Lin was just getting her fame for playing Dongfang Bubai, while Ren Yingying played by Kwan was a woman of extreme femininity. In the film series Once Upon A Time In China, Kwan played the most recognized version of “Thirteenth Aunt” ever. Her alluring visage and charming eyes attract the unsophisticated Wong Fei-hung and resulted in an array of jokes and misunderstandings. 


It is not an exaggeration to say her characters on the screen are breath-takingly glorious, successful, or unparalleled. However, behind her starry career is a life of hardship and difficulties. Her parents divorced when she was still young and due to economic issues, Kwan took on the burden of life at an early age. 


In 1980, 18-year-old Kwan had just graduated from high school and in order to relieve her family burden, she joined a television station and plunged into the world of acting.


After entering the industry, she mainly played gentle and feminine characters, even thought they are exactly the opposite of her real personality. That is the reason why Kwan has a complicated feeling toward being an actress, since she actually did not enter the industry at her own wish. 


Her first TV series was Agency 24 co-starring with Leslie Cheung. Two years later, Cheung won his critical acclaim with the hit song Wind Keeps Blowing. Meanwhile, Kwan tried to break her old image of playing single type of characters. However, she was repetitively turned down by directors due to “orientation” issues. She pondered over her future and had no idea of what was going to happen.


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She told me she always yearned to return to the campus someday, after struggling in the entertainment world for so many years. But due to economic issues, her dream seemed unreachable. The passage of time eventually bent her knees to the reality – she shot a number of films in a row but also hoped to find a character that really fit her. 


Probably there’s no one who understands better than her on “youth flows like water”. She spent almost a decade waiting for the movie that has a character she really liked to play. Then, she was 28 years old and expected to retire at 30.


The most beautiful movie figure “The Thirteenth Aunt” among moviegoers gradually faded out after filming for Hands In The Hair in 2004 and eventually Kwan announced her retirement in 2009.


As of the critical retirement decision, Kwan explained for her bold choice, “when an actor comes to a certain age, he should know it’s time to stop. It is a responsible act for those who love you.” True, maybe the best good-bye is to leave the best time of one’s youth to the fans.



Fabulous Re-orientation Appeals to The Heart


After announcing her retirement from film in 2009, Kwan seldom appeared in the media except to take part in some events occasionally. Not until she introduced her own skin-care brand in 2015 did the public begin to notice her again. Meanwhile Kwan started her bold business endeavour, designing her own pyjama series. 


She used to echo with the audience through her presentation on the screen. Now she communicates with her customers in a similar way. Stepping down the starry stage, Rosamund Kwan showed her different new self as a fashion designer – decisive, capable, intelligent, and acute. However, the transition of role is only the superficial changes of life, while the growth of mind is the most remarkable change that brings to the former “Queen of Hong Kong Movies”.


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It goes without saying that it’s tough work to start a business and hold shows. All her efforts were dedicated to the perfection on the stage and her expectation of being overwhelmed by the warm applause from the audience.

She also told me that holding a show is just like acting. Whether it’s the final walk-around of all the models on the catwalk or the elegant designer paying tribute to the audience, or even the moment the big “Finale” showing up on the screen, all of them are for the final judgement to be made by the audience. Kwan said that compared to acting in a film, her designs gave her a stronger sense of belonging and interaction with the audience. 


When talking about the latest fashion brand cooperation, she said, “Well this cooperation is a pleasant one. Actually, I hate having others taking charge of my stuff because the result is often not what I wanted. That feels awkward. So when someone asked me why I didn’t hire a designer and authorize him with my label, I would say why should I do something that I don’t want?”


As a fashion designer of her own brand, Kwan feels that she has found her true self. After a decade in the film industry trying to find her true self, Kwan feels no regret at her change of career. “I’ve already crossed that barrier and there’s nothing to regret. The past choices were the past, and now is now. What I need to face is the present life.” There’s not much self-analysis in this remark but it’s genuine and from the heart, just like her old way of doing things, that never wastes time on jabbering but with a slight feeling of pride. “The foundation of my brand is a new chapter in my life,” she said, “I’ve made my decision and I take my responsibility to manage it well and embrace the days to come.” 



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