SINGAPORE — He’s the son of renowned Taiwanese actor Allen Chao, but Mark Chao insists that a proper relationship with his father had been non-existent until his father’s semi-retirement.
“His presence was kind of a nuisance for us because he was so famous,” the 29-year-old actor explained. “When we went out to eat, we’d always be bothered. We could never enjoy a good family meal outside, go to the movies or even the playground. We hated him being an actor.”
Chao cut a dashing figure at the Montblanc event on Aug 1.
But with Chao’s marriage with Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, is he worried that fame will have the same impact on his future children? “Well, I’m going to strive not to do that, because I know how much it hurt me when I was a kid. We wanted my father around but never saw him. I mean, we’d wake up and go to school, and he’d be asleep. When we were back, he’d be gone working all night. It was only when he moved back to Canada with us that we understood and went, ‘Oh, that’s my dad!’”
Of course, we had to ask Chao, who was in Singapore for the 90th anniversary of Meisterstuck for Montblanc, what embodied the “Montblanc gentleman”. “I guess that would be me!” Chao laughed. “There’s a certain elegance to the pen and the pen’s owner. Perfection. And if you carry a Montblanc pen, you’d have to carry that kind of characteristic with you.”
Q: We envy your flawless skin. What’s your secret?
A: I don’t do much! But because I have to put make-up on for work, I have to clean my face thoroughly. I do a few steps at night: Make-up remover, face wash, tonic and all that. I don’t do a lot of steps, but I keep it clean. Also, sleep well and exercise! I used to do a lot of weightlifting, then I moved to cardio and core (exercises).
Q: Can one look as good in a S$10 shirt as he would in a S$300 shirt?
A: It’s tough. You’re really going to have to search for that S$10 shirt! I’m sure that there’s one in the thousands that you can find, but it’s tough. The fabric itself is so important — the right one can bring out the elegance in you.
Q: Comfort or fashion?
A: Comfort. Because I think it’s important to wear something that you feel comfortable with. If you try to be fashionable but not comfortable, you’re not going to have confidence and will start acting all awkward.
Q: What are the top staples in a guy’s wardrobe?
A: Do shirt and pants count? (Laughs) I like hats — I’m not always going to do my hair all the time when I go out, because I want to be comfortable! So I put on a hat — they’re important to me. I don’t wear watches that often, but I think they say something about you. I also really like scarves, I don’t know why. And a nice pair of dress shoes!
Q: What is your personal motto?
A: Do only what is meant for you to do. Sometimes we force ourselves to do things that we might not feel comfortable with in order to achieve something or to overcome certain things, or being someone that we’re not. But I feel that it’s best to do what feels natural to you and go with the flow. Don’t fight it, because things happen for a reason.