How did you get your start?
By accident. When I was 14 years old I wanted to be a pilot for Cathay Pacific but as I was walking through a shopping mall, a woman saw me and asked if I wanted to do some modeling. I said, yeah, why not. Then in 2005 I got a casting call to do a screen test for Channel V. They were looking for a Eurasian male who could speak fluent English and knew sh*t about music. They signed me full time and it domino’d from there to Star Movies HK and hosting E!News Asia.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
It was at the Oscars talking to John Travolta and his wife Kelly. He was making his way down the red carped - and bear in mind he hadn’t been nominated but was presenting - so I asked the usual questions. There was still some time remaining and the director was in my earpiece saying, “Ask more questions. Ask more questions.” So the first thing that came to mind was, “You’ve got to be pretty stoked about presenting an award tonight?” He answered, “Um yeah, I have done it about twenty times before.” There was an awkward silence that seemed to last for hours before Kelly, his wife, jumped in and said, “It’s exciting every time." I felt so embarrassed as they walked away. I mean, John Travolta of all people.
What was your best interview?
There are so many to choose from. What I get to do, meeting the people I have, has been incredible but I think the best interview was with Slash (below) on so many different levels. Speaking to him wasn’t like a job. I completely forgot that I was working. I’m such a fan of his, I’ve read his book and love Guns N' Roses. I was able to ask him about specific times, like I knew that G N’ R wrote one song because their car had broken down. Duff had to walk back to fix it and they were drinking Night Train (cranberry, scotch and tequila) and that’s how the song came to be. I asked how the process got started. When they were walking down the street did someone just bust out a guitar and start singing? Even though he looks really rock he’s an articulate and down to earth father of two. We just hung out like two dudes talking.
How has your role changed as media has evolved?
It’s getting scary with the introduction of Facebook, Tweets and smartphones.
Finding it hard to keep up?
Well it just seems that TV in a live sense is dying. In Asia, anyways, we get things so late or a season behind. I mean, who really waits a week for the next episode to watch their favorite program when you can just download it off the internet? There is just no need to watch TV here.
What do you think about HK’s relationship with celebrity compared to the West?
We’re talking about two totally different cultures that have evolved at different times. The west has had celebrity since the birth of TV but here it is still relatively new. Remember in the 60’s how crazy women went over the Beatles and it was the same with Elvis. It’s just further behind here and in 30 years or so they will desensitize as they have in the west. In the west you can see a movie star like Robert Downey Jr. walk into a coffee shop - maybe one or two people will ask for a photo or something - but if Jackie Chan walked into a store here people would just flat out lose it.
Has your line of work changed you – ever used your star power for instance?
No, I wouldn’t say that it has because one thing I detest is people who become famous and use that fame or feel they are owed something. I can’t walk in here (Classified) and say, “Don’t you know who I am? I shouldn’t have to pay for this coffee.” I’ve seen it before though so I try to stay as humble as possible. I just hang out, do normal things and be who I’ve always been. I love guys like Colin Farrell who walk down the red carpet to their own movie premieres holding a can of beer and smoking a cigarette. They don’t do it or change themselves because of the fame.
Do you come up with your own questions?
Questions are a collaborative effort and screened by the star’s PR people. You have to do your research and be up to date with their personal life because you really don’t want to insult or hurt them - they’ll just walk out. You simply try to make conversation.
Who have you been most star struck by?
I don’t get star stuck but when I first met Slash I felt like a little kid again. As I was shaking his hand I thought, ‘WOW this is the hand that has strummed the guitar on so many of your favorite songs, holy shit.” But otherwise I don’t get star struck because one of the first pieces of advice I ever received was that it doesn’t matter who you’re interviewing, could be the American president, at the end of the day; their shit smells too. They are just people and that was great advice so I never get nervous.
Do you want to live here forever?
I do. Asia is the best place – there’s such a mix of everything.
Favorite place to eat in HK?
Home. I know that’s a boring answer but I love my dinner and breakfast at home. That being said, sometimes there is nothing better than Chinese market char sui fan, fish balls and dumplings.
Favorite place to drink in HK?
SoHo – eat and drink – it’s such a cool little area.
Where’s your favorite place to drive your Ducati in HK?
No such thing - driving in Hong Kong sucks. Even if you go off the island and into the new territories like Tung Chung you still have to put up with minibus and taxi drivers who don’t know how to drive. You can’t trust anyone on the roads. Just because people have a driver’s license doesn’t mean they’re competent operating a vehicle. People signal left then turn right - if they even signal at all.
I only read biographies. I find it a great source of inspiration and just love real stories.
Favorite TV show?
Californication. Hank Moody is my hero.
What’s one thing you can’t do without?
Hong Kong - it’s my source of energy. After I’m away for a while, as soon as I touch down or smell the air I feel energized.
If you could have dinner with one person from history who would it be and why?
I’ll be honest here, I want to sit down and pick the brain of Ryan Seacrest. The guy is a machine, he’s the hardest working guy in Hollywood. Producing, hosting, radio, reality, that man has his hands in a lot of pies. I want to give Hong Kong entertainment the enema that it needs. Putting together real shows that people want to watch and making entertainment entertaining. Not us sitting here watching scraps from another culture that’s on the other side of the world.
(Dom) I’m never on this side of the questions. It’s quite good to get some sh*t off my chest.