When Louise Wong got the call from Edko Film executive director Bill Kong that she had been chosen, out of thousands of candidates, to portray Cantopop icon Anita Mui in her biopic, she bought a ticket to Thailand immediately. But it wasn’t to celebrate: she was overwhelmed. “My hands were shaking. I was very scared,” Wong says. “I stayed in the hotel for one week and spent the first two days crying. I didn’t know what to do.”
That she looks the part is without question. The fashion model, who is the only Hongkonger to have won the Elite Model Look Asia Pacific regional contest, which she took in 2006, and who has since been a favourite among brands including Shanghai Tang, Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani, has facial features—the sculpted cheekbones, snub nose and deep-set eyes—that eerily conjure up Mui’s face.
But to play the late diva takes more than looks. “Mui is unreachable in so many ways, singing, dancing and acting,” says Wong, who makes her acting debut in the simply titled Anita. “I’m nowhere near. I was venturing into a whole new field.” Her nerves are understandable: nearly two decades after her death from cervical cancer in 2003, Mui remains a legend. She is one of the only three Hong Kong icons to have a bronze statue erected in the Avenue of Stars; the other two are Bruce Lee and the cartoon character McDull.
Mui’s career began at the age of four, when she would perform Chinese opera and pop songs in nightclubs, theatres and on the streets to help provide for her widowed mother and three siblings. In 1982, aged 19, she won the first New Talent Singing Awards and released her first album Debts of Love. The following year, she took to the international stage, winning the Asian Music Special Award and Tokyo Broadcasting System Award at the Tokyo Music Festival, and never looking back.
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