HONG KONG - After living in his famous actress wife Ada Choi's shadow, Max Zhang is coming into his own in The Grandmaster.
China actor Max Zhang has a prominent role in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster that is not reflected in the movie poster or promotional materials and much press coverage.
Though his role as antagonist Ma San means he enjoys more screen time than Taiwanese star Chang Chen, it is Chang who gets billed ahead of him.
But Zhang, 38, tells us in an interview that he is not at all insulted by any of this. He feels "blessed" to be part of the movie.
He has the same attitude towards being called Mr Ada Choi, in reference to the popular 39-year-old Hong Kong actress, who is his wife and is more famous than he is.
"It has never bothered me when people say she is more famous than me or doing better, because firstly, it is the truth," he says cheerily in Mandarin over the telephone from his home in Beijing.
"Also, she is my wife and I want only what's best for her. Let's say if one day, her career goes downhill and I happen to be doing much better. Would I really be happy about that? Of course I wouldn't. I only want my wife to do well and be happy. So when people talk of how well she's doing, whether or not it's better than me, I really am very, very happy for her."
Similarly, he sings the praises of Chang, who has overshadowed him.
"Chang is an excellent actor and I respect him a lot. I really don't feel even the slightest bit of unhappiness over the fact that he is on the posters and I am not. As an actor, you shouldn't think so much about these things. Your job is only to do your role well. Everything else should be left to others to decide."
The Grandmaster, which is showing in cinemas (worldwide except Malaysia), is about martial arts expert Ip Man, who taught Bruce Lee his Wing Chun skills. Starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Ip Man and Zhang Ziyi as another pugilist, the fictitious Gong Er, it also looks at the types of martial arts styles from around China.
Zhang's character Ma San is the man who kills Gong Er's father.