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From pop, dance to killer role for Kwok

HONG Kong entertainer Aaron Kwok says his new role as a mentally unstable police officer turned killer in the Hollywood-backed thriller "Murderer" is part of his transformation from pop idol to bona fide actor.

Named one of Chinese pop's "Four Heavenly Kings," the 43-year-old star rose to fame as a dancer-singer in the 1990s.

He started tackling dramatic roles, with two of those performances earning him back-to-back best actor awards at the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars, Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, in 2005 and 2006.

"It's a conscious change. I think I've already established a rapport with my music fans in the past 10-plus years as a singer," Kwok said yesterday after the premiere of "Murderer" in Hong Kong.

"I can make music easily. I can come out with an album any time. But I wasn't able to make the movies I wanted to. Now I've consciously devoted most of my time to movies."

Kwok said he prepared for his part in "Murderer" by reading books about criminal psychology and meeting psychologists. He said the character was so haunting it gave him nightmares about becoming a murderer.

"This is a breakthrough film for me," he said.

Partly funded by the Hollywood art-house studio Focus Features, "Murderer" is the directorial debut for Hong Kong's Roy Chow, who worked as an assistant to Oscar-winning "Brokeback Mountain" director Ang Lee and the producer of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Bill Kong.


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