Felix Lok’s (駱應鈞) character defined his fate. He has no problem with that.
As one of Hong Kong’s most famous “green leaf” actors, 64-year-old Felix Lok has had a pretty smooth career. In 1973, he successfully auditioned for Shaw Brothers’ in-house training academy, but terminated his contract with the film giant the following year. In 1975, he made his move to TVB’s training class, and officially joined the industry.
Felix spent the next 36 years of his life filming for TVB. His roles never made it past supporting, but Felix was more than happy to have stuck with his “green leaf” status.
“I’m a practical person, so I know my place,” said Felix. “There are people who are destined to become lead actors. I am not one of those people, and since I’m not, there’s no point of forcing it. Besides, there are things where your own character and personality would make the decision for you.”
Felix presented himself as an example, saying that his low-profile personality had made him lose a lot of opportunities. “I was once approached by someone to promote my drama with an interview, but because I was in a temporary situation at the time, I didn’t want to be too high profile, so I turned it down. Because of that, some people would assume that I wasn’t being cooperative. This really affected my career development.”
Felix said he has accepted the fact that his personality is just not well-suited for leading actors, offering another example: “In the past, if I was filming a drama, I would not film anything else. If I had movie offers, I’d turned them down. I really did not enjoy that thrill of rushing schedules. I think I lost a lot of opportunities because of that.”
No longer under a large management agency, Felix finds his current freelance lifestyle much more suitable for him. “It was my doing. Everything was done through my own choices, so I never complained. When I don’t want to do a project, I just say I have no room in my schedule for it. That’s just how I am.”
Saves Face in TVB
Though Felix had long accepted his fate of having no leading man gravitas, his workload was definitely no lesser than the filming schedule of a TVB idol star. “There’s only 30 days in a month, but if you consider all the filming I had to do, I would go through 40 to 50 filming crews. It was pretty hectic!”
Being a TVB actor isn’t an easy job—saving face is even harder. “We start makeup at six (06) in the morning, then head out to do some outdoor photography, then start studio filming in the evening, which would last all night until early morning. We’d start the same routine again at 06… this is the schedule that [TVB’s] been going with for many years. It wasn’t uncommon to work nonstop for 70 hours at a time. In those cases, I’d just drive to the filming location myself to save as much time as I could for sleep and shower.”
Long filming hours was standard protocol for TVB actors; Felix was glad to know that he wasn’t the only one who had to go through the same thing. “If you haven’t worked for over 20 hours straight then you’ll have no face! You never had a 40-hour long schedule before? Don’t talk about it! You don’t want to lose your job!”
Liu Kai-chi Inspired Felix to Leave
Practical and uncomfortable with change, Felix stayed with TVB despite knowing that the company was too stubborn to re-evaluate its filming methods. Rather than advocating for change, Felix learned to adapt, and found a way to find satisfaction in his job. “I started from the bottom, played insignificant roles and worked my way to playing roles with more screen time. My acting was always changing, so I was never bored with what I did.”
Felix considered leaving TVB when an opportunity came up in the late 70’s, but ended up backing down. “I was too green. I’d be lost. In the 80’s, ATV did approach me, and the film industry was flourishing, but I didn’t feel like it was time for me to leave yet.”
He finally nailed the decision after having a long chat with Liu Kai-chi (廖啟智) on the set of his last TVB drama in 2004. Liu Kai-chi was the catalyst in Felix’s TVB exit.
“We were shooting a period drama in China at the time. Uncle Chi and I talked for hours on our last night there. After being with the same company for so many years, I felt it was time for me to leave to try new things out. After that night, I decided to prepare for my leave.”