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Interview de Pierre Tremblay

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Pierre Tremblay


Of all the gweilos who appeared in IFD ninja flicks, Pierre Tremblay occupies a very special place in our eyes. A past master in the fine art of portraying / impersonating Machiavellian bad guys with a mocking grin, this French Canadian has become some sort of an icon of psychotronic cinema. Off-beat movie buffs might remember his face from films where dashing night warriors in cherry red or chick yellow suits fight one another with flying smoke grenades in city parks or public gardens. After obsessively hunting down the man, we managed to learn Pierre was still living in Hong Kong, where he was now working as a local radio station presenter on RTHK. We contacted him in 2006. Intrigued, he accepted the idea of being interviewed and... then nothing. Not a single word. Imagine our surprise when four years later, monsieur Tremblay eventually got in touch with us to deliver his story. Here are the memories of a travelling man who seems to be amused about his past - a text sometimes reflecting the French Canadian accent of this Hong Kong lover. The rich and beautiful life of a happy gweilo!

Interview menée par Rico


I thank you for your patience, I admit that 4 years is a bit long to answer, but I had my reasons. To paraphrase French singer-songwriter Jacques Higelin : "Life is what happens to you when you're busy trying to do something else." The side of my media career with the least success is the one receiving the most attention, thanks to you. So I answer.

I've decided to answer your thirty-odd questions (!) with a resume of my career, and to delve deeper on certain points of interest along the way.

I left Montreal when I turned 21 to travel around the world thanks to a small inheritance that nevertheless allowed me to travel 2 1/2 years practically without stop. I got to know my first half of the planet, namely the Americas (North, Central, South), a few Pacific Islands, and I was going up East Asia when I stopped in Hong Kong to make some money and continue travelling.

I started doing odd jobs, mostly teaching French and Spanish. I was also teacher at the 'Alliance Française de Hong Kong' for six months, before being introduced to casting agencies. At first I was able to get a few jobs as extra in TV commercials, then small roles in Cantonese TV series. They were always either "Bad Foreigner" roles (drunken sailors in fights), or "rather naive" roles (like foreign priests in Chinese provinces who get beat up and/or killed within five minutes after showing up on screen).

I could already speak a little Cantonese as I had just taken an intensive Mandarin trimester at the Asia-Yale-in-China, run by a retired Taiwanese military officer, working for the CIA some said. That made it a lot easier for me to learn the Cantonese dialect. I was also learning Tai-Chi with the Hong Kong master of my Montreal master, with whom I had started learning Wu Jia a few years before.


I could already speak a little Cantonese as I had just taken an intensive Mandarin trimester at the Asia-Yale-in-China, run by a retired Taiwanese military officer, working for the CIA some said. That made it a lot easier for me to learn the Cantonese dialect. I was also learning Tai-Chi with the Hong Kong master of my Montreal master, with whom I had started learning Wu Jia a few years before.

So I already had modest rudiments of the language and martial arts, enough to get me these first jobs. I decided to stay a bit longer.

Then in 1980 Madeleina Chan, agency and agent, contacted me about a role in Tsui Hark's upcoming movie "Dangerous Encounters : First Kind." She promised me a 'professional' salary of US$150 per day, for a total of around 7 days within the upcoming month. She kept her promise. There was only one scene with Bruce Barron, the torture scene in the parking lot, we didn't talk to each other. I was only killer no. 3, Bruce was no. 2, and no. 1 was a real Hong Kong police detective named 'Nigel', who was working in the film 'without official permission'. That's the real reason you never got to see his face in the movie. What I remember most vividly is my last scene where I get killed by the students in the cemetery. We rehearsed it 2-3 times : I get shot in the chest and under the impact I throw myself backwards to land on my back on a mattress placed off-screen on the ground. Then we shoot the scene: gunshot, hit in the chest, I throw myself backwards on ... the hard ground ! They took the mattress away ! I yelled in pain, then I see Tsui Hark's face on his tall director's chair. Did I really see a small smile on his face ? He planned everything ! Then he turns around and tells an assistant to take care of me. I immediately demand in a loud voice to be paid extra for reasons of 'unforseen pain', and I showed them my bloody elbow. I got it.

It's a pity your website is only dedicated to movies, you're missing an important dimension : television ! Soon after this filming, still in 1980, TVB-Jade invited me to play in a new TV series that was to launch the career of a very young Chow Yun-fat. The series was called "The Bund", and I was to play the role of the French consul in Shanghai in the 1930's, corrupt and paid by the triads. Seeing as they had already called him 'Mr. Pierre' in the script, how could I refuse ? So we started. I have to admit that with my beginner's Cantonese and their sinologist diplomat's script, I was learning new Cantonese vocabulary with my dialogue. I was always getting the tones wrong at that time so I couldn't remember my script. It was a small massacre.

It was then that Fat-Zai , or 'young Fat' as we called him, started asking me questions during our breaks about Hollywood and how an actor can find work there. I had absolutely no idea, I hadn't even been yet, so I answered him as best I could with whatever common knowledge I had. He had a very clear idea in mind though which was confirmed a little later when he disappeared from the studio for a few weeks, almost a month, and none knew where he was. It's only when he came back that I learned that he actually ran off to ... Hollywood. He tried getting work there, alone. Of course he came back without success, and like he told me 'without connections' you can't do anything over there. So it took him almost 20 years to find that success in Hollywood, and a well deserved success too. I was able to meet Fat-Zai, become Fat-Goh or 'older brother Fat', in sometimes surprising circumstances, which I'll get to later.


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