Taiwanese actor Ko Kai tries to rebuild career after drug arrest

Despite getting a Best Actor nod at the Golden Horse Awards, Kai Ko says he finds it hard to make a comeback. ― Picture by Hon Jing Yi/TODAY
Despite getting a Best Actor nod at the Golden Horse Awards, Kai Ko says he finds it hard to make a comeback. ― Picture by Hon Jing Yi/TODAY

SINGAPORE, Dec 2 — It has been two years since his infamous drug arrest in 2014, but actor Kai Ko is still trying to re-build his career.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the Singapore premiere of The Road To Mandalay at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), the Taiwanese actor candidly admitted that he has not received any invitations to star in upcoming films, despite being nominated for Best Actor at the recent Golden Horse Awards for his performance.

“I don’t feel like I am starting again, and I feel lucky that I have been given the opportunity on such a good project, and I was really happy to have been nominated for the award,” said Ko, when asked how he felt about making his comeback with The Road To Mandalay.

“The challenge is being accepted again by audiences. It doesn’t matter how good the movie is, some people may boycott it because I am in it, which is quite upsetting.”

The Road To Mandalay, which was nominated for six prizes at the Golden Horse awards, is directed by Myanmar-born Taiwanese filmmaker Midi Z, and tells the story of two illegal immigrants from Myanmar trying to better their lives in Thailand. Ko and co-star, Taiwanese actress Wu Ke-xi, had to spend months working in a factory in Thailand to prepare for their roles, and Ko reported lost 10kg for the project.

“We want people to see how sincere we are in presenting our movie, and if people decide that they won’t watch my projects, I’d be quite upset,” said the 25-year-old, who shot to fame after filming Taiwanese hit film You’re The Apple Of My Eye in 2011, and underwent rehabilitation after being arrested for marijuana abuse in 2014.

“Getting people to accept me, as someone who’s made a mistake, is quite a challenge,” he said.

The actor added that he has since learned how to read negative comments about himself on the Internet without feeling disappointed or defeated.

“When I go on variety shows, I see a lot of people commenting (online) that they don’t want to watch the show because of the guest star,” Ko said. “But I think I’ll take things slowly. It’s already been two years, or more than 700 days. I see these comments every day, so I don’t get affected anymore.

“I still read them though,” he said.

Even though he eventually lost out at the Golden Horse Awards (it went to China’s Fan Wei), Ko says he is grateful that the movie has gotten such positive feedback.

“In the future, I hope to try different character or different roles,” he said, before quipping: “And, of course, I hope to take on roles that are better-looking!” ― TODAY

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