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Life imitates art for Chinese superstar Andy Lau in ‘The Movie Emperor’

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The Movie Emperor, the Chinese-language film featuring global star Andy Lau, had its well-received premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival in its Gala Presentations section on September 15. 

Ironically, Lau plays Lau Wai-chi, a famous star who badly wants some movie festival cred.

To that end, he’s willing to shed his vanity and go native, so to speak, going on location to lend authenticity to playing a poor villager in an art house film.

However, he soon realizes how accustomed he’s become to being a pampered star.

The comedy takes a satirical look at celebrity and the industry surrounding it, what with Andy’s character having to put up with interviews from decades-younger “influencers” whose fame he doesn’t understand — as well as your usual fizzy showbiz journalists.

“In real life I have encountered some that are much worse than in the film,” Lau says with a laugh, through a translator. 

The movie was directed by Ning Hao, who plays the driven but oblivious director of Lau’s movie-within-a-movie.

However, Hao explains playing a director, and actually directing at the same time, was “chaos” at times —especially during one of the movie-within-a-movie’s fight scenes.

He explains that at one point, after yelling “cut,” he found his crew hadn’t shot anything: They thought he yelled “action” while playing the part of the director.

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