A friend declared recently in a Facebook post that “I wanna look this good when I’m 37.” The friend was referring to Namie Amuro, “a Japanese R&B singer, fashion icon and actress”, I later found out when I Wikipedia-ed her. Not a J-pop fan, in fact I hardly know any Japanese singers except maybe for the gorgeous diva Ayumi Hamasaki but then, who doesn’t, I was naturally curious about Namie Amuro. I decided to watch the clip that my friend had posted https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=710643705641466&set=vb.516469735058865&type=2&theater and I understood the comment. At 37, Namie Amuro looks like a teenager. It most probably is the result of stylists and a great camera crew but hey, it was still stunning.
It got me thinking as a mature man. Are there any iconic mature men that all of us can aspire to look like? Okay, I am being shallow and superficial. But a little frivolity now and again doesn’t hurt, does it?
But of course there are some iconic mature men out there for whom we all gasp in wonderment and envy, and er…maybe lust (giggle amidst drool) when we think of them. I came up with a few names and googled them. I decided on 4, all of them over half a century young, er…I mean old. One is from the West and 3 are from Asia so it is not down to whether West or East age more gracefully. My apologies go to all readers who think that I am limited to only a small number of races. I am actually colour blind -beauty is beauty regardless of race. My shortcoming is the result of a limited scope of celebrities that I know so the catchment is really small.
Here are my choices:
Richard Gere (USA; Born 1949; 64 years young)
I first watched him in American Gigolo (1980). It was apparently not his first movie but it caught international attention with him baring it all. So it does mean that stripping for the camera is one way of being catapulted to fame and stardom. Well only if you are as sexy as Richard Gere…. I remember him recently being in the advertisement where he released a flock of birds in the commercial for the Visa Platinum credit card http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYiQlblrUkI. Age has caught up but only in his head of white hair. He still oozes a sexy charm.
Ken Watanabe (Japan; Born 1959; 55 years young)
He first came to international attention as the suave samurai Lord Katsumoto Moritsugu in The Last Samurai (2002). Subsequently, he appeared as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in Letters from Iwo Jima, further reinforcing his status as the sexy, silent, brooding, manly, Japanese mature leading man. He was also the face of the high-end cameras Canon EOS 7D commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTlMGg6SCkY) and Canon EOS 50D (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_Srg1xZLNY). You watch them not just for Ken Watanabe but for the beautiful scenes of the mountain tops floating on the bed of clouds as well. Now when the 2 combine, it is a sheer wet dream.
Andy Lau 刘德华 (Hong Kong; Born 1961; 53 years young)
He came on the big screen first as a young Vietnamese Chinese toy boy in the movie from Hong Kong, Boat People (投奔怒海, 1981) by the famous director Ann Hui (许鞍华). The movie read like a Hong Kong entertainment Who’s Who and starred the popular Hong Kong actor/singer George Lam (林子祥), affectionately known as Lam, as a Japanese photojournalist and the elegantly beautiful Cora Miao (缪骞人) as a Vietnamese socialite who hung on to the French colonial past and was sugar mummy to Lau. It was the film to watch that season because in the headlines was news about boat people from Vietnam who braved stormy seas to seek asylum in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia and even Singapore. It was big news at that time in Singapore because we turned them away with just survival supplies. I will never forget the close shot of a dead Andy Lau after a botched attempt to escape the socialist state. That movie was one of the milestones in the development of my abhorrence of tyranny and dictatorship, political or otherwise.
Watch a clip from Boat People in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY6SNBPbVaw. Go to the last part of the clip to see the dying scene.
Of course, Andy Lau went on to more things. He became a popular singer, one of the 4 heavenly kings* of Canto-Mando pop. Recently, he won the coveted Golden Horse** Best Actor award for his biographic role as a film producer in the award winning A Simple Life. (桃姐), again directed by Ann Hui…I worship that woman.
Andy Lau is still gorgeous and swoon-worthy at the age of 53.
Edmund Chen 陈之财(Singapore; Born 1961; 53 years young)
Someone close to home is Edmund Chen, actor and writer, who always has this nice boy-next-door image. Well, he has matured but has certainly aged quite gracefully. Online records show him to have started with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), the predecessor of MediaCorp in the serial Sunshine After the Rain (雨过天晴, 1987). I remember his first appearances as a fresh-faced ruddy complexioned guy. Then later he went on to star in television shows like Patrol (铁警雄风, 1989) where he first met his wife, actress Xiang Yun (向云). Last year (2013) he broke the Guinness world record with his 601.25 metre long drawing http://video.xin.msn.com/watch/video/edmund-chen-broke-the-guinness-world-record-with-his-601-25m-long-drawing-%E9%99%88%E4%B9%8B%E8%B4%A2%E4%BB%A5601/tn77gvhe. You will see his son and wife Xiang Yun in the video as well. Well, what can I say – he not only managed to look really good, he has done Singapore proud….Why did he do it? Well, as he said – “I want to live in the moment…” – Carpe Diem.
Okay, I admit that all these are after all celebrities. Most likely, they’ve all achieved current successes because of past fame and resources which they had already acquired when young. Looks is also something not everyone has and how a person ages is often genetically linked. But self-confidence and style can be worked at and what is noteworthy is that they must have put in lots to break through new grounds. It would not have been possible if they had just basked in past glories. Not hanging onto the past but living in the present and cherishing every moment seem to be a commonality among them.
In the words of the openly gay man, George Takei (aged 77), another mature man who had re-invented himself after his fame as Cpt. Hikaru Sulu in the cult television series in the 60s – 70s Star Trek had been forgotten: “I can’t wait for all those wedding invitations” and neither should we.
*heavenly kings – a title given to 4 singers who were very popular in the Chinese pop entertainment scene in those days
**Golden Horse – Taiwan’s highest award for movies very much like the Oscars in America