ANJALI RAO:Edison this is your first return to Hong Kong since the height of
EDISON CHEN:Well, now legally I'm allowed to speak about it because the trial's finally over and honestly there's been a lot of talk through the past year and a half about this or that and a lot of rumors, a lot of hearsay, and I feel, you know, I've kept quiet just to kind of respect everyone and respect the law and hopefully that when the trial ended I could finally speak and I guess this is my chance now. I have a lot to say and I think I'm only gonna say it once so I think that it would be best to say it here with you.
RAO:I appreciate that. Talk to me about what the experience has been like for you of coming back to Hong Kong.
I'm back.This is my home
CHEN:I thought about coming back to Hong Kong for a long time. I've wanted to come back for quite a while now, so I'm actually quite happy. I'm elated that I'm back. This is my home. I've been away from home for too long, you know, I feel like a nomad. I've been living out of a suitcase for a year and a half it seems like. And to be back with my family, to be back with my friends, where my companies are, where I live, where everything that I've known in the past 8, 9 years, you know, it's in Hong Kong.Of course it's nervous, it's nerve-racking, because I don't really know how people can accept me. I don't really know with all these threats and all this stuff around, I really don't know what to expect to be honest with you, but I can't live my life scared always or in hiding.
RAO:There was a point though where you seemed to suggest that you were going to stay out of the public eye indefinitely. Since then you've had your movie, The Sniper, out. Do you really think though that you can still resurrect your career?
I actually said indefinitely
CHEN:It is good that you said this point because a lot of the media, especially the Chinese media, have said that Edison says he's quitting the entertainment industry forever. I actually said indefinitely. Now maybe some people don't understand what indefinitely means. It can mean 5 minutes, it can mean 2,000 years. I never said forever. You know I mean I'm not telling you it's going to be an easy thing, that overnight it's just going to be like an overnight celebrity thing, cause it's not. And I'm gonna have to go through a lot of the things that I went through coming up in the beginning as well, but I think that if I have a passion for what I do, I'm willing to go through that.
RAO:You mentioned that there has been a threat aspect to all of this and a bullet was sent to a TV station with a message warning you to stay out of the limelight. Do you fear for your personal safety?
CHEN:I'd be lying to you if I said that I'm bullet-proof and I'm not afraid of anything. I'd like to say that, but yeah, you know, it's.I never thought I would ever ever have a death threat. Why would someone want to kill me I thought, and at the same time right now I still don't quite understand it, but I have to get over it. I have to live my life. I had a death threat a year and a half ago and I had a death threat just before the release of my movie.
Two death threats
RAO:Since you have had two death threats, I mean, how does that affect you as a person?
CHEN:The first one I was afraid. I was afraid. I was afraid to go anywhere. I was traveling around when I was still in Hong Kong in trunks of taxis, like literally, just to get to places because, I mean, I wasn't going to get food, I was going to meet my lawyers and meet my management company and it wasn't fun, you know, like I had to be in the trunk for 15 minutes. I didn't even know if I had enough oxygen to be honest with you. Even when I had left Asia and I had went to Canada and America, it took me 3 months to really get out of the shell that I had put myself in. I mean, I was in darkness for 5 days. I had my drapes closed and I didn't even want to go anywhere because I was in America then, you know, and I was really, really afraid of just people and a sudden car movement, you know, I was afraid of motor bikers when I was driving because I was just afraid of everything.
RAO:Did you have any idea where the threats were coming from? For example, were you worried about organized crime?
CHEN:Wow, you know, I wish I knew. I mean I would love to sit down with those people and really talk to them and really, in my terms, squash the beef, you know, like kind of level things out because I don't really believe that it has to go to that extreme. I think that there's a lot of things that whoever it is, or whoever these people are, we can talk it out. I don't think that a life has to be taken. I could go on thinking 'til I'm 50 and I will never know, which is why I'm a little bit more carefree in that way and I just put it in God's hands basically to let him do what he wants with me and at the same time hopefully I can live my life.
RAO:You were a highly visible presence in this part of the world until the scandal really blew up. What have you been doing with your days since it happened?
CHEN:I've been doing a lot of things. It took me a little while, but you know, with the constant support of everyone around me, you know, my family especially and my girlfriend. I kind of got through that shell again. I kind of got through this I'm nothing and I'm done and I might as well give up stage and, you know, started to see what I could do that was valuable in the area that I was in. And I was in America. I was in LA and New York mostly. I've always wanted to either direct or produce movies so I, you know, decided to take some crash courses, follow some producers and try to learn the game of production. Not only did I have time to do some of the things I enjoyed, um, some of the things that I dreaded at first like doing my laundry or throwing out the garbage or going to the grocery store actually became something that really grounded me, and really gave me a different perspective of life because I've been working in the entertainment industry since I was 19. Very young。
I didn't really have a great outlook on life to be honest with you. I was just out of school. It was like a party. You know, every day was like a party. I kind of got accustomed to that life where everything was taken care of, where I thought I was a pretty good person, and then I went back and I kind of had to do all these things by myself and I kind of reflected on the way I treated people and the way I saw things, and I got a lot more grounded. And I am thankful for that, you know. I mean, everything, I believe that everything happens for a reason.
RAO:Let's talk now specifically about the scandal. Sounds like a simple question, but why did you take the photos in the first place?
CHEN:Well, you know, when you're young you do a lot of things that you don't quite comprehend. You think it's fun, you do it, you don't really think about the outcome or what would happen if this or what would happen if that, and I think that you know, I mean, every every. when you're a teenager and when you're young and when you're a celebrity, and you have this and that, I think maybe you go overboard a little bit. And I think that maybe, you know, I just went a little too overboard, a little too wild I guess maybe. I don't take those pictures anymore and I had ceased to take those pictures for actually quite a long time. All those pictures that were released were taken pre-2004. It was 2008 when these photos were released so it was like a lot of people were seeing 'oh that's Edison.' That was actually the old Edison. Those photos were from 4 years ago. It's just, you know, I had even.I was in a serious relationship at that time. It was my first serious relationship. ever. I was in love. I'm happy. And, you know, when you respect someone and you really love someone you tend to care about how those people feel and when we had like deep intense talks, we talked about our past and, you know, I had actually told her that some of these things had happened before and she was quite upset and actually told me to delete them。
RAO:Why didn't you?
CHEN:I did. I did. I did delete them and。
RAO:RAO-All of them?
CHEN:Yes, all of them. All of them. 6 months later after I had deleted these photos off my computer, my computer broke down. I had insisted, I mean, I had asked my assistant to go and bring the computer to go and get it fixed. Now, what I actually found out after returning to Hong Kong and assisting the police was that they had copied my whole hard drive and then they had recovered my memory. I had no idea that there was such a thing before. I thought that if I had put it in the trash bin and said empty trash bin and it goes [makes noise] and it's gone.. forever, but no, it wasn't。
It's strange because I'm actually very happy that I had this talk with my girlfriend before and that she knew that I had deleted them because at least the person that I care for the most in this world knows the truth and will stand by me, because I don't know if I hadn't talked to her and I really didn't do that in front of her face if she would still stand by me through all of this. And, you know, she's been a very strong and very supportive girl even though she's very young。
RAO:You're still together?
CHEN:Yes yes, it's amazing。
RAO:How has she handled all of this?
CHEN: She's like a warrior. She's like superwoman, you know, like to me because while I was sitting indoors hiding, I mean, I don't want to sound like a coward, but it was deeply intense for me, but she'd be going to school every day。
RAO:Were there photos of her?
CHEN:Umm yes, yes, but very few。
RAO:Some 13 hundred were leaked onto the net. Do you know how many there were in total?
CHEN:Umm no, I didn't sit at home and count them, to be honest with you. [RAO- Are we talking hundreds? Are we talking thousands?] I would say there were a few more. There were a few more, but that was already enough. Thirteen hundred is way enough already. I never spoke about these photos to anyone. I never. [RAO- You never showed them to anybody?] No, I never showed them to anyone. The only people that might have seen them were the people who took them, where'd they be like 'can I look at what you just took?' and I'd show them. I would never parade them around。
RAO:Did all of the women involved know that their photos were being taken?
CHEN:Yes, definitely. Definitely. I have to say that, you know, everything was mutual. It was all consensual, all consensual. I don't know exactly how they view what had happened or what they tell people, but I know the truth. I'm only here to say the truth because I believe that there's too much lies going around and too much controversy and too much hearsay. And I'll tell you right now that, you know, if I have a camera in front of your face and there's a flash, do you know that I'm taking a photo of you? That's as simple as it is。
RAO: Let me just ask you about the computer technician who was involved. By hacking into your files, it does sound like a deliberate attempt to target you personally. How do you feel about him?
CHEN:Umm the way I feel about him today and the way I felt about him 8 months ago is totally different. I've forgiven him and he's going to, you know, he's going to jail. He's got judged and he's passed judgment already and he's doing what he needs to do to redeem himself, but I don't exactly know if the person who stole the photos and that distribute and put them on the internet are the same person, but I definitely think that these people had something malicious towards me. It was a malicious act. It was purposefully done to hurt. No money was involved. No nothing was involved. People ask me, the police ask me, have people been blackmailing you? I was like, no. They're like 'wow' are you sure? I say definitely, I would know if someone was trying to blackmail me。
RAO:The public was furious at the time. Did you expect that sort of a backlash?
CHEN:Uhh.no. No, because I believed I was a victim. I believed that I was hurt by this a lot. I believed that.I knew that I had nothing to do with the spreading of these photos.
RAO:You don't believe you did anything wrong?
CHEN:I can't say I didn't do anything wrong. I own up to my mistake of being careless and not really, not really understanding something before I would allow something to happen, something to happen you know, I didn't really understand that. I admit I was wrong. I've admitted that I was wrong and I wouldn't say sorry if I wasn't wrong.
RAO:Tell me about the moment that you realized that these photos were everywhere.
CHEN:I was shocked. I was in disbelief. Someone called me. I was sleeping in the morning. [RAO: What'd they say?] She said have you checked the internet yet? You should go check the internet. I go, man, I'm just sleeping please just. 'you really need to go to this web site and look at it right now.' I looked at the website and I almost.I don't even know how to put it in words. I don't even know how to put that feeling in words. It was like everything just got sucked out of me and I was like looking and I was like 'wow' this is so.Where?! What?! When?! How?! .Confusion, like, what to do? Oh my god my family! Oh my god my girlfriend! Oh my god my career! Oh my god the girls! Oh the press is going to have a field day. I have to fix this problem as soon as possible. That was the first day when 2 or 3 photos were out only, so imagine by the 800th photo how I was feeling. It was like a nightmare that never ended. It never ended. I would go to bed and I would pray, I would pray please, please God, today please be the last day. I pray I'll do anything. You know. Anything. Please today.
I'm not the person to ever commit suicide though, so I've never been there. I think that committing suicide is giving up on not only yourself, but the people that love you, and at that moment I had so many people caring for me that that was never an option. Never.
RAO:Cecilia Cheung accused you of being a hypocrite and a fraud. She said that you turned your phone off and that you ignored her while this whole thing was going on. What would you say to her now if you had the chance?
CHEN:I would, you know, I don't really want to have a back and forth with her, which is why I didn't really comment on what she had said before. I hope that she can understand that, you know, I really do feel sorry. I really am sorry to her. I'm sorry to everyone involved, but you know, at a certain time and a certain point in everyone's life you get caught up in things. And I was just caught up in the whole mix. I was at the center of the storm. What she wants to say I'll let her say it because in a certain sense some of the responsibility is in my hands and maybe in her world I'm the only one who was wrong.
RAO:When was the last time that you spoke to any of them?
CHEN:Umm..I can't recall.not recently. [RAO: Before the scandal?] Definitely before the scandal. [RAO: You haven't spoken to any of them since?] No.no. [RAO: Because you couldn't find them or because you didn't want to?] Umm, you know.initially it was because I couldn't find them. Secondly, it was because I didn't really know how to approach and really what to say to be honest with you. I would have liked to call them and say sorry, but at the same time, you know, I hope that when the trial was over they would actually know I didn't do this on purpose. That's why I waited for that trial to end for forever. It was like a calendar mark that had no day, you know, and umm, you know if I can see them. I don't wanna.like speaking on the phone. I feel like it loses a lot of the integrity of the emotion. I think that like it's like some people say, you know, we break up over the phone it's one of the worst things, right? And I feel like if I apologize over the phone it might not seem sincere and it might not seem real.
RAO:Well careers are in shreds and engagements been broken, some would say even lives have been ruined. If any of the women were to come to you and say, listen, I wanna talk about this, you know, I wanna just get this all straight. Would you be open to that?
CHEN:Definitely. If we're going to sit down as two adults and really suss it out, I'm open, I'm open to it, but judging from the way they've done their interviews I don't think that, you know, they have every right to be angry. I don't want this to come across as I'm saying something about them, but I don't think that they're, they can sit down and have a constructional conversation with me quite yet.
RAO:Do you think this time in your life will always stay with you?
CHEN:Even if I didn't want it to, it would. I've tried to move on with my life and I think that, you know, it's kind of like forgive and not forget, but it's like I want to forget too. Cause I've had to forgive myself, I mean you know, the person I was angry at most was myself, you know, I was most unhappy with myself. I had to learn to deal with myself. I had to go home and look at myself in the mirror and see what kind of man I am. And, you know, I come to learn to come to terms with myself. I feel more comfortable as the Edison now than I was the Edison before, and I don't know how that makes people feel, but you know, I'm just being real and I'm just being honest
RAO:Edison, it really can't have been easy for you to talk so openly about this, so I do thank you very much indeed for sitting down with us today.