When players enter the world of Sleeping Dogs, one of the first characters they meet is Wei Shen’s childhood friend, Jackie Ma. The voice actor who plays Ma was one of Hong Kong’s biggest stars — that is, until his private photos were leaked online.
In 2008, superstar Edison Chen sent his laptop in for repairs. Over 1300 private photos were copied by the shop, with compromising photos of Chen and several well-known Chinese celebrities — like Bobo Chan, Cecilia Cheun and Gillian Chung — leaking online. It became a huge scandal in Hong Kong, and even garnered international press. It was such a huge deal that his name was the most searched in China that year.
Still, nobody seemed to want anything to do with Chen. Big name sponsors like Samsung and Levis dropped him. The whole thing was awful for actor-singer and everyone involved, with people’s privacy violated. Chen said he was leaving the Hong Kong entertainment industry “indefinitely”. (He later returned in 2010.)
Since then, it’s been a slog to return to where he once was. Some fans still have a bad taste in their mouths over the photo leak, while others might actually like him more for his bad boy image.
In late 2010, Chen started making public appearances again — but it wasn’t for big corporate sponsors. One of his first gigs after he returned was for the 2010 Asia Game Show in Hong Kong. He appeared on stage and performed songs, covering Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.
His appearance in Sleeping Dogs is one of his highest profile acting gigs since the whole scandal. He also will reprise his role in the sequel of Initial D film, which is based on the popular Sega arcade game. While probably not intentional, part of his slow comeback seems based in gaming.
In years past, doing video game work was seen as a step down for acting. Some still might think that. They shouldn’t, because there are interesting, well written parts out there that can open up your work to an entirely new audience. Just ask Edison Chen.
Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome — game related and beyond.