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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Golden Window: Charmaine Sheh - Love & Friendship, Lies & Fraud

[Apple Daily 15/12/2011]

The ice breaker TVB series of the year [When Heaven Burns] produced two types of extreme response; those who lavished praises and those who detested it. Charmaine Sheh who portrayed the female lead Yip Zhi Yan frankly said: "Th story of human nature represented the inner voice for a lot of people. I feel that the series is not really targeted at the mass, it's not the usual series that will be appreciated by our parents." Mentioning the attachment with the male leads, Charmaine said: "(Despite) Knowing that they didn't bring Ka Ming back (from the mountains), I become more considerate toward them. Unexpectedly, when I accepted them again, I found out that they actually harmed Ka Ming."

TVB series [When Heaven Burns] has been garnering huge popularity in discussion forums lately. Charmaine Sheh who portrayed Yip Zhi Yan received praises for her acting; some feel that the character is tailored for Charmaine, some feel that it’s totally different change. Towards netizens' praises, Charmaine responded during the interview held at Tseung Kwan O: "Maybe because the role is quite different, I haven't taken this kind of role before. I can't portray it so superficially; it's not the kind that you can get into character on the first day of filming."

Doing homework beforehand makes it easier to get into the character

Charmaine continues: "After accepting the series, I went back to Hawaii for holiday break. There's a month time until the filming began. During the holiday period, though there were no scripts yet, I already start to imagine and wrote a journal for myself." Asked the reason why, Charmaine frankly said: "Because the role is too deep, Yip Zhi Yan bears too much burden. At that time, they haven't written the telephone booth and motorbike scene yet. Therefore I told myself to immerse in the role first and relied on my own imagination how happy it was when I am with Ka Ming; about our close relationship with the other 3; how Ka Ming's death devastated me. I (Yan) was only in her teens back then, how can a teenager dealt such great devastation, how I resented the other 3 person. I wrote a lot of these and keep thinking about it. By repeating these emotions, I manage to get into the character when filming started."

Challenged by the on –the-spot scripts

The filming progress was indeed a grueling, but they have no choice. "I was really unhappy during my holiday break, but it's expected when it comes to filming Ah Chik (Jonathan Chik) series. I remember that the first day of studio filming, I was still filming the outdoor scenes for [72 Tenants of Prosperity] two days in a row. It was really grueling as [72] also practiced on-the-spot scripts. That day my scene was scheduled at 5pm, but my script only arrived at 2pm. That scene was my solo scene in DJ studio, with lines over 10 pages. Luckily I have prepared earlier and did my homework; otherwise it will be difficult to handle it alone."

However, since the series has yet to achieve ideal ratings since its broadcast. Charmaine said: "The story of human nature represented the inner voice for a lot of people. I feel that the series is not really targeted at the mass; it's not the usual series that will be appreciated by our parents. But I am happy that the 80's generation know how appreciate it. During filming, I already expected that many people would not understand the series. As an actress, it's very fortunate to come across a good series and script. I enjoyed filming the series." She added: "Nowadays, I've learned how to immerse and withdrew myself from a role. In the past, I failed to withdraw from my role in [Heavenly Sword Dragon Sabre] as Chow Chi Yuerk. Near the end of the series, the character lost her mind and as a result, I also become uneasy when I return home from work every evening. I can’t withdraw from the character, it's quite scary. Luckily I felt better after some time."

Grasping the difficult emotions

Of course, the mentioning Charmaine's [Apple in my Eyes] like attachment with her boyfriend Ka Ming, Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong in the series, she said: "If you asked me who I loved most, I will definitely say it's Ka Ming. I have a special relationship with the other 3. In the beginning, I thought that we have already grown up and should learn about forgiveness and acceptance, and no longer want to feel unhappy about my life. I want to accept this group of friends into my life again. At that time, I only knew that they didn't bring Ka Ming back and tried to be considerate to them, but when I have finally accepted them, I found out that they actually harmed Ka Ming."

Recounting the memorable scenes, Charmaine directly answered: "It's the scene where I feel that they betrayed me and Ka Ming but I'm doubtful. I questioned them one by one whether they had lied to me. Beforehand I asked Ah Chik what was his expectation toward my character emotions, and he said there's no need to cry, because crying means I believed them. However, during filming I can't hold my emotions and the tears just kept coming. I felt so hurt, so disappointed at them."

Keep rehearsing scenes to capture the real emotions

After putting great effort, Charmaine is satisfied with her performance in [WHB]. "This series had a lot of feel to it, I really liked it. The level is indeed more difficult. I was a bit worried if my portrayal is too flat and calm, it will not have the same effect. Working with this series cast is not meant to project your individual limelight, but finding a middle ground can be difficult."

[No idea how to act this scene]

Charmaine continued: "I remember a car scene with Ben Wong, where he gave me a wedding ring. At that time I can't grasp the feeling, I really have no idea how to act the scene. There were no emotions but we still need to film it eventually. I dragged Catherine Chow for a drive, where she pretended to be Ben and we experimented with different types of attitude and lines to see which one worked better. Thinking back, it was really fun."


p.s. I did some minor editing at some parts of the interview to make the article flow better but it doesn't affect the important gist of Charmaine's response in the article. So it's not a per-word translation.

Additional pictures from (similar interview content):

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