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Mark Lee X Chapman To: When comedy kings 'collide'

Hong Kong star Chapman To and Singaporean funnyman Mark Lee talk about working together on their new film King of Mahjong, and reveal who tells vulgar jokes on set.

SINGAPORE: Veteran Hong Kong comedy star Chapman To and Singaporean funnyman Mark Lee may play two feuding mahjong experts in their upcoming comedy film King of Mahjong, but they were inseparable during a recent media conference for the film.

The pair exchanged friendly banter throughout the event, even when they were not with reporters. Yet, Lee said this had not always been the case.

"When we first met, we were both unfamiliar with each other, so we both pretended to be cultured and aloof. After some time, I just couldn't take it and said 'Let's stop pretending!'" said Lee.

"And I did. I showed him my true self, which was pretty bad!" said Toh with a grin.

"At first, I thought he'd have airs. But he wasn't like that. After 20 years in the business, and having been in over 100 films, I can confidently say that only B-listers are hard to work with. A-listers like Mark are usually easy-going, just like I am."

When asked who is funnier, the pair instantly pointed at each other. "Of course he (Mark Lee) is. He tells vulgar jokes all the time!" said To.

"How can I be possibly be more vulgar than he is?" Lee shot back.

FOOD OVERLOAD

The chemistry between them bodes well for their film King of Mahjong, which will see To play Ah Fatt, a disciple of a legendary mahjong guru.  

Ah Fatt has no choice but to answer the challenge of fellow disciple when Huang Tian Ba (Lee), who has an axe to grind with him, abducts his wife Lei Meng Na (Michelle Ye) in order to force him to take part in The International Mahjong King competition.

Helmed by Malaysian director Adrian Teh, King of Mahjong also stars Venus Wong, Cheronna Ng and Adrian Tan. The film, which is expected to be released in the first quarter of next year, will feature cameos by celebrities like Eric Tsang, Tian Xin, Dennis Chew and Patricia Mok.

To revealed that he and Lee spent weeks in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur shooting the film before returning to Singapore to shoot a few  more scenes, and ate everything from kaya toast to curry noodles during their time there.

"I was reading menus more often than I was reading the script!" quipped To.

"Let me tell you, these people (Lee and the rest of the production team) are seriously crazy. There was once we went to eat seafood in Malaysia. We ate so much seafood that it felt like we had eaten everything in the sea!

"Then they went off to eat curry noodles. I said ' What? You're going for dinner after dinner?'," said To, as Lee burst into laughter next to him.  

KEEPING FAT, NOT KEEPING FIT

To had previously lost weight for his earlier film Naked Ambition, and had a hunky body which drew the attention of the media. Yet, he was more chunky than hunky during the media conference for King of Mahjong.

Commenting on his expanding waistline, the 42-year-old actor said that he had worked out purely for his role in Naked Ambition and that he is comfortable with his current body shape.

"I saw Aaron Kwok in a recent advertisement. He has a great body and looked good. Then I realised that no matter how fit I am, I will never be as handsome as he is, or look as good, so I might as well eat well," said To.

"Now, I'm more about 'Keeping Fat' instead of 'Keeping Fit'."