KUALA LUMPUR: “I once attempted suicide,” revealed Petrina Fung Bo Bo, one of Hong Kong’s most successful film actresses of all time. “I stood at the edge of the roof of a 20-storey building and was contemplating to jump off and end everything,” she said.
But in that final crucial moment, according to the 62-year-old actress, something miraculous happened. “It was as if someone or something had spoken to me at that moment,” she said.
Somehow I felt like a force was pulling me back to safety and that’s when I gave up on the thoughts of ending my life.” Fung, who had at the time battled with depression which lasted 18 years.
During that period, she relied on medication to contain her erratic mood swings. Now, a devout Catholic, Fung said she relied on prayers and her own goodwill to break away from her tumultuous times.
“Prayers and getting closer to God have helped me pull through those trying times. Today, as I stand before you, I feel happier,” she told a Press conference.
Fung was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote her new film Wonder Mama with Hong Kong director Clifton Ko. The film also stars veteran actor Kenneth Tsang, Susan Siu Yam-Yam and Babyjohn Choi.
Once the most-sought after child actor during her heyday, Fung made and released more than 10 films in one year alone.
Often referred to as Shirley Temple of the East by the local media, Fung has made more than 100 films but her debut in the 1956 film Little Sweetheart remained as one of her most iconic screen appearances yet.
The film, which was directed by her actor-director father Fung Fung, also marked her first feature film.
Among the older audience, Fung is probably best known in the 1962 film Little Twin Actresses in which she played six different roles, and later in Pink Tears (1965), starring opposite Julie Yeh Feng and Ling Yun.
When she was 16, Fung decided that she had enough of the limelight. She craved a normal life like many kids her age.
She secretly left her family home and flew to England where she attended a design course with a scholarship from Datuk Lim Foo Yung, who established the Hotel Merlin chain.
Upon returning to Hong Kong in 1976, she worked with fashion designer Eddie Lau but later found the calling to act again in 1986 in My Family.
Although retired in 1994, Fung occasionally made special appearances in films including Ann Hui’s 2010 film All About Love. “I’ve never thought of making another film again.
If it wasn’t for Clifton who persuaded me to take on the role, I wouldn’t have said yes. Don’t get me wrong, acting was fun but it’s the promotional event that I am dreading.
It’s so tiring, and I worry that the audience might not remember me,” she said with a laugh.
The Borneo-born actress is now calling Penang her home (where she lives with her Malaysian architect husband Yoong Siew Chuen), after living in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur for some time.
Though the actress did not specifically revealed that she would go back to acting full time, she did say that she is in the midst of working on a new film, which is based on her life.
“It’s a biography of sorts and will be told through the eyes of three generations of women,” she said.
According to Fung, one of the stories in the film will be based on the relationship between her and her godmother, the famous actress Lin Dai who committed suicide due to family matters.
That aside, Fung will begin working a new book, her autobigraphy. “I’ve been writing notes on my phone every now and then, and it still needs some minor adjustments.
Hopefully the book will be ready by next year,” she said. The book will include Fung’s views on the film industry and her thoughts on growing up under the limelight. Wonder Mama opens in cinemas on Thursday.