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Actor discovers his leading role

Updated: 2024-05-07 05:53 ( China Daily )
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Phillips attends events during the Beijing International Film Festival, as a jury member for its Tiantan Award. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Since completing his duties at the Beijing festival, Phillips has continued filming Out of Order, an adaptation of the farce by English playwright Ray Cooney, winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

The film, which is being produced by Mahua FunAge, a successful Beijing-based comedy production company, is set to be shot just a 10-minute drive from Yanqi Lake.

Phillips says that he plays the role of a famous lawyer in the story, which is set in the 1940s, and who is secretly dating his rival's female assistant at a hotel, only to discover an unidentified male corpse outside the window, setting off a chain of absurd events.

"My character has absolutely no morals, no qualms, no conscience, and he's a sex maniac. In portraying him, I want the audience to watch him and think, 'My goodness, everything he's doing is so horrible, but I still can't help but like him'," he says as he bursts into laughter.

As a public figure without Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, and only having a Sina Weibo account, he maintains a cautious stance toward the latest technological developments, such as artificial intelligence.

"I'm particularly concerned for art because art comes out of the human spirit and the human emotional experience. It's a communication between humans from the artist's expression, whether it's a film, a painting, or a novel. I don't know that AI-generated art is what I would call art," he says.

For an icon like Phillips, who has shone for four decades, the conclusion by writer, publisher and host Xu Zhiyuan is perhaps one of the most fitting. Then a fourth-grader at a primary school in Beijing, Xu recalls a strong impression of Phillips wearing black pants, a short red top and black bow tie while performing at the 1987 Spring Festival Gala. In his interview for the online program Shisan Yao (Thirteen Invitations), Xu spent three days with Phillips and said that the star resembled a character from a fairy tale, like "someone stepping out of a Woody Allen film, exuding mystery".

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