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Veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Ka Fai has been in the news a lot lately, but not by choice.

His 21-year-old twin daughters Chloe and Nikkie made headlines earlier this month for posting sexy pictures of themselves on social media. The photographs showed them dressed only in tiny bikinis or in revealing dresses. There were also photos of his girls kissing and hugging various men at nightclubs.

Immediately, Hong Kong tabloids ran stories on how “hot” his daughters were and that they should consider a career in entertainment.

Ask Leung about it, however, and he sounds completely nonchalant. In a telephone interview with Life!, the 56-year-old says that he lets his daughters do “whatever they want”.

He adds calmly in Mandarin: “I’ve already taught them everything that I can teach and provided them with a solid education. What they decide to do now is all up to them, so if they want to show skin, I let them make that choice.

“As long as they understand that they must take responsibility for their actions and deal with the consequences, they’re free to do whatever they want.”

That is why he is also open to them joining showbusiness, saying that “if that is what they want, I can’t stop them”.

The only caveat is that they finish school first, he says.

Reportedly, his daughters are attending a university outside of Vancouver, Canada, with one studying art history and the other studying film editing.

He adds with a laugh that he is not the type of father who would give his daughters a leg up in the industry.

“Basically, even though my daughters have an actor father, they are not very fortunate. They are definitely not fu er dai. They are more like qiong er dai because I want them to work hard and get ahead on their own.”

Fu er dai is a Mandarin term which means “wealthy second generation” and qiong er dai means “poor second generation”.

Leung was speaking to Life! to promote his latest movie, Horseplay, a comedy in which he plays an elusive thief known as the Nine-tailed Fox, who is being pursued by a relentless TV reporter (played by Kelly Chen) and a police detective (Ekin Cheng).

Directed by Lau Chi Ngai, the film was shot on location in Prague and London – an experience that the actor describes as “unforgettable”.

“Filming this movie felt like a holiday for me more than work because it was scheduled during my daughters’ summer holidays, so my family could spend time with me throughout the entire shooting period,” he recalls.

“My wife and daughters would sometimes watch me film and just laugh at all my antics from the side. I felt very relaxed during the whole shoot.”

In the movie, his character often disguises himself in various outrageous get-ups, sometimes in drag, to elude the cops. The one thing that the actor took away from all the dressing up is that “it is very difficult to be a woman”.

He adds: “There was one look where the make-up took three hours to put on and one hour to take off. And then to run around in heels too? I realised it’s not easy at all being a woman.”

There is another scene where he is dressed in an outfit that shows off his entire back. Asked why he did not choose to show off his abs instead, and he is ready with a quip.

“I think my back looks prettier. Also, I don’t have a six-pack anymore. I have an eight-pack now, and maybe some people won’t be able to handle that,” he says, tongue in cheek.

He maintains his good spirits when asked about a certain line from the movie, where his co-star Chen’s character muses: “Tony Leung Ka Fai? Who cares about him? He is so passe”.

The actor, who has won four Hong Kong Film Awards for his acting, says with a laugh: “I don’t mind that jibe at me at all. I think I’ve always been the type of actor who continually pushes myself and keeps doing better. There is still a lot I think I can do.”

This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on March 19, 2014. For similar stories, go to You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.