Not Ascending Not Happy
I have reason to believe that if you are not a dedicated fan of Jack Wu, or like me you are researching for an interview, then there are not many people who will know that Jack Wu has been in the industry for ten years now.
After entering the music scene by winning first place in a karaoke competition, he joined TVB as a music show host and then introduced himself to drama producers to act. Since then, he has hovered around in supporting roles – this Yangzhou dream has lasted for ten years now.
Fortunately for him, he does not need to have another Yangzhou dream for ten years as his opportunity has arisen.
One call, Jack agrees to partner leading lady Myolie Wu to rapidly gain 40 lbs. The difference is that one is the female lead with all the focus on her; the other is still in a supporting role, still working hard and awaiting his break.
For Jack though, at least this provides him another ladder to step up.
Even if you step back a little to see, this chance will at least win him a ‘fickle name’.
Before the interview, I called to request some clothes for teh shoot and received the awkward response: "Who is Jack Wu?"
I replied: "He is Fat Boy Hei from ‘To Grow with Love’." The other person knew who he was then.
If it was not for "To Grow with Love", Jack Wu may not have interview after interview and he would not have left such a deep impression.
If I had said: "That host from ‘Scoop’." The response would have been: "Who do you mean?"
Jack has had two opportunities to rise quickly to fame. In 1996 at the age of 19, he boldly took part in the "Big Echo Summer Karaoke Contest" and took first place. He thought he could become a singing star as a result, but the stock market crash in the following year smashed his dreams of stardom. In 1999, he joined TVB to host their weekend music show, watching other people singing. The irony of it all was that the previous winner of the same contest was the current superstar singing diva Joey Yung.
Asked if he still likes singing, Jack said without a thought that of course he does and then after a pause of a few seconds, he added that before he started acting, then he did think that singing came before everything and to be singing star was his life. After many years of life as an artiste, he now feels that acting comes first in his life.
"Filming is truly good fun. Take my recent production for example, I play a doctor who has returned from study in France. Think about it, in real life, people have to study for eight or ten years to become a doctor, but I just have to do some research before filming and I can put on a costume and experience life as a doctor. You will not get this feeling from being a singer and it is this feeling that I like the most." However, Jack says that if he has the opportunity to sing theme songs or sub-themes, then this will make things even more perfect for him. It would seem his dream of being a singer still linger.
When Jack first came on the scene, he fulfilled the basic requirements of youth, good looks and a little ‘Andy Lau feel’.
Gaining weight with Myolie, but he will always be in the background or by her side. Jack has no hard feelings though because after ten years in the industry, he knows his place.
Dare not compare to Myolie Wu
Seven years as an actor has left him neither at a height or a depth and resigning to being this way for the rest of his career, Jack met with his second opportunity. Gaining 40 lbs for his role, this is not a unique feat, but in Hong Kong television history, Jack is the first one. However, he rewards for his feat are not as good as expected.
Sharing the same surname, sharing the same task of gaining weight for the series, but the attention placed on Jack was nowhere near as much as Myolie. Thanks to this series, Myolie has been nominated for the ‘Best Actress’ award at the TVB anniversary and has found herself on the cover of many an entertainment magazine as her popularity rises rapidly, but in comparison, there are few reports made about Jack and he nowhere is he noted as a favourite for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ and even for the ‘Most Improved Male Artiste’ award, he is nowhere in the running. There are many people (including me) who feel bad for him, but Jack just laughs it all off.
"From the very start, I had never thought that I would step up with ‘To Grow with Love’. After all, I have been in the industry for ten years now and many things are within my expectations. If it was six or seven years ago, then I would have minded, but now I am nearly 30 and I understand where my position is. Myolie was already a leading lady before she put on weight, so there is no comparison. Moreover, she is a girl and to put on 40 lbs is different for a woman than it is for a man. If I could not lose the weight, the effect on my career would have not have been as great, but imagine if Myolie could not slim back down, then it would be a major incident and would have a huge impact on her, so the focus of everyone on her weight is justified. For me, you cannot say whether this was worth it or not, you can just say that for the producer to think of me for this role is already a great thing and at least I know that Jack Wu can at least make it onto a producer’s shortlist."
Opportunity and knowing what to do with it, both elements are just as important in the showbiz industry and even if Jack’s encounters have been less than satisfying, at least he knows how to conduct himself, so to this day, he has not been left behind.
Appearing in "Real Kung Fu", Jack’s ‘Siu Fu Yung’ character received good reviews, but after the series ended, the hype died down.
Jack originally had two brothers, but the younger one died from illness at the age of three, so he cherishes even more his remaining brother who is two years his junior.
Weight Gain Milk made him Sick
Jack has always been a health freak, before gaining weight, his biggest hobby was doing sports and keeping fit. The word ‘fat’ was miles away from his lifestyle, but in order to film this series, he let his diet get out of control for the first time in his life as he ate night and day. At first, he thought that gaining weight would be a fun and easy thing, but it was in fact a tragic feat.
For those of us whose waistline goes up by at least an inch per year, then what difficulty is there in gaining weight? However, for sports fanatic Jack, it was a very difficult thing. At first, he would just lie around at home after work and eat high calorie foods thinking that it would be easy to put on weight in this way, but as the days went by, he had only gained about six or seven lbs and he started to worry. As he worried, he felt the pressure and the weight stayed off. In the end, he had to seek the help of a nutritionist and in between meals, he had to drink the weight gain milk in order to reach the results that we see in the series. He says: "At the time, I was drinking so much milk that I wanted to be sick."
Talking of losing weight, Jack says this was a lot easier and in just two weeks, he had regained 80% of his previous performance. Jack says that apart from the help from his slimming company, his sporty background has helped him a lot. "Many people have asked me if I am afraid of not being able to lose the weight, but in fact I have never worried about this. Gaining weight was a personal task that I had to do alone and no-one was able to help me, but I had the assistance of the slimming company and the machines to lose the weight and coupled with my regular exercise regimes, losing weight was quite rapid. People had said that I was too skinny in the past, so now I am just right, apart from my six-pack becoming ‘six-in-one’. If I can get my six-pack back, then that will be a success."
Family is More Important than Career
Jack is optimistic and content and this personality is a mixture of his nature and nurture. When he was young, Jack’s family were very poor and the family of four lived in just one room with one bed. It was only when his father became a fireman that they moved into the firemen’s quarters that their lives began to improve. When he was young, his entertainment was watching his neighbour’s television through the grills in their doors. A childhood with little material goods has made Jack understand what is true happiness and contentment.
Jack says that his carefree attitude is natural-born as well as developed by his environment. When he was young, he was very naughty and although they were poor, he rarely helped out with the chores. His mother was very strict with them and would not let him and his younger brothers play out on the streets, so all he did at home was eat, sleep and play. In his second year of secondary school, Jack’s three-year-old brother was admitted into hospital and thinking it was only a minor illness, he did not take any notice and carried on with his eating and playing, never imagining that this hereditary condition would take his brother’s life. It was this event that made Jack realise how delicate life is and from this time onwards, he started to care more for his family. He feels that there is nothing on this earth that is more important than his family.
"Many people find that I am very laid back about things, but I feel that there are a lot of things that even if you win them, then there is no meaning. I feel that there is an order to everything and if you fight for something and you win, then is that a good thing? If you don’t win then is that the worst thing? Who knows? I just know that if you leave things to fate, then you will be happier. Take when I first became an artiste, not many people knew me, but whenever I had a show, my family would record my appearance for me. If you asked me to choose between becoming popular and my family, I would definitely choose my family.
"This does not mean that I am not ambitious, I have been and introduced myself to a producer. That was Leung Choi Yuen. My first series after joining TVB was his series ‘Lost in Love’, so I feel even more that you don’t necessarily have to fight for things, but you do need to look for progression."
Jack’s diet plan has recently appeared on the internet. It is like this:
Breakfast: Ham macaroni and cold lemon tea (no sugar)
Lunch: Half a bowl of sweetcorn and pork rice and cold lemon tea (no sugar)
Dinner: 15 beefballs or fishballs, vegetables
This diet is not bad, it has meat, rice, veg and cold drinks.
After the interview, I [reporter] decided to give this a try after confirming this with Jack to see if keeping to this diet this can be the start of losing some of my 185 lbs.
Breakfast: Ignored because I did not get up in time
Lunch and dinner: As per the plan
Results? Not yet known, but I do know that I wanted to die after just eating 15 beefballs.
The ‘easy method’ that Jack talks of is like hell for me. I think gaining weight is more suitable for me.