Taiwanese screen siren Shu Qi may have found fame, fortune, and love as an adult, but did you know that she had a tough time growing up ‘cos of her very strict parents? In fact, it was so bad that she goes as far as to say that she “didn’t have a childhood”.
“I had to be very observant of my parents’ reactions so I could keep a distance when they were in a bad mood, otherwise I would get scolded,” she recalled in a recent interview in Tencent documentary My Legacy.
“Whenever I heard my father’s motorcycle coming home and the metal gate opening downstairs, I would be terrified and run away as far as I could to hide, even if it was the middle of the night. So I think growing up in that kind of environment with those experiences made me into an extremely sensitive person.”
When Shu Qi was 15 or 16 years old, she decided to run away from home, but she had to borrow NT$5,000 (about S$240) from her mother as she didn’t have enough money to pay rent.
The actress then showed several scars on her shoulders, knees, and feet that were from a car accident she got into when she was younger. While you’d think that a potentially life-threatening event like that would be an opportunity for strained parent-child relationships to mend, Shu Qi admitted that she didn’t feel like her mum even cared.
“She immediately just started scolding me,” the actress said. “I had so many injuries and in my heart, I was like, ‘Hey, I’m already so pitiful, why are you scolding me?’”
Shu Qi also looked back at her career, describing herself as “rebellious, like a boat drifting non-stop from one port to another”.
Her wake-up call came during a New Year’s Eve dinner with a few other Taiwanese girls at Hongkong director Wong Jing’s house. “I went to the bathroom and heard a girl crying, which made me realise that I had to stop living life so aimlessly.”
She then set a deadline for herself: if she was not able to make a name for herself in five years, she would go back to Taiwan and simply find someone to marry. “Veronica Yip was my idol and I wanted to be like her," she added.
Sure enough, she got her wish and, like Veronica, managed to make the transition from steamy Category III films to mainstream movies, but success didn’t make things easier for her. In fact, when she was at the peak of her stardom in the mid-noughties, Shu Qi suffered from depression and had trouble sleeping even after resorting to drinking and popping pills.
These days, the 44-year-old has a more zen outlook on life and fame. She shared that she once had a conversation with her fellow celeb friends about ageing and losing popularity, but to her, these aren’t issues worth fretting over.
“If you get to enjoy fame for 20 or 30 years and lose it, things can’t be worse than before you became popular,” she mused. “As for appearances, do you think it’s better to turn into a monster, or to grow old naturally? I think the answer is obvious.”