Fifteen years may have passed, but it appears that the popularity of classic Hong Kong drama Return Of The Cuckoo has not waned.

The stars of the show Julian Cheung, Charmaine Sheh, Nancy Sit were swarmed by Malaysian fans when they were in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote the movie adaptation of their much-loved TV drama.

In the spin-off film, Cheung, 44, Sheh, 40, and Sit, 65, reprise their wildly popular roles that were voted among the top ten favourite television characters at the 2000 TVB Television Awards. In the same awards ceremony, Cheung and Sheh nabbed the favourite on-screen partners award.

Cheung plays Man Cho, a mute who develops feelings for Sheh’s Kwan-Ho. Sit plays Aunt Q, a kind hearted woman who takes Man Cho in after he is abused by his mother as a child. Picking up where the TV series left off, the movie spin-off starts with all the characters attending a birthday party for Aunt Q. It is there that Man Cho and Kwan Ho meet again after many years apart.

“It is not easy for a TV drama to be made into a movie after 15 years. To have so many people loving the show and looking forward to the movie is truly incredible,” said Cheung, who recently enjoyed a resurgence in his popularity with his role as Captain Koo in airline drama Triumph In The Skies II.

Veteran actress-singer Sit said she felt very moved that viewers still remembered their characters after so many years. “Movie adaptations of TV dramas are not unusual. But one that picks up where we left off some 15 years later, that has got to be a first. When we first acted together, these two were just kids. Now they’ve both grown up,” quipped the bubbly Sit, adding that it was amazing how everyone still looked so good after 15 years.

Aunt Q (Sit), Man Cho (Cheung) and Kwan Ho (Sheh) are back together again in the movie adaptation of Return Of the Cuckoo.

Aunt Q (Sit), Man Cho (Cheung) and Kwan Ho (Sheh) are back together again in the movie adaptation of Return Of the Cuckoo.

Sheh added: “I never expected to be able to play the same character again after so many years. The movie lets us revisit our memories together with the fans, so it is very special for us. The challenge this time is that I play a person who doesn’t like to talk because something terrible happened to her. So she was very glad to have Man Cho around to keep her company, and allow her to do as she pleases.”

Cheung then shared that during the movie’s Macau premiere, everybody was crying buckets and asking for tissues. “Since Nancy had only one piece with her, we had to tear it into four pieces to share among us. We’re very good at conserving our resources!”

The camaraderie they shared on the set of the movie was remarkable, said Sit.

“The director consulted us about our roles because we were the ones who developed those characters a long time ago. Everybody slipped into their roles effortlessly the moment the cameras started rolling.”

The veteran actress also had to sing until her voice was hoarse for one scene. “We had to do multiple takes while singing Fen Fen Zhong Sui Yiu Nei (Need You Every Minute) because the director wanted different angles.”

For her, the most memorable scene in the movie was the bungee jumping sequence. “Initially, the director had asked me to jump, to symbolise a mother’s love for her child. The bungee jump from Macau Tower is the highest in the world so I was really stressed out about jumping from there. Eventually, the two leads volunteered to do it so they ended up jumping together instead of me.”

After the bungee jumping scene, which they wrapped in one take, Cheung said he did feel a bit dazed. Sheh added: “I don’t have vertigo. But it was very high and very windy up there. For stunt wire work, we get hauled up by crew members; but for this, we have to take the initiative and push ourselves to jump off the tower. So it was an entirely different feeling.”

When asked whether they would be making a sequel, Cheung quipped that it would be highly unlikely since they would have to wait another 15 years. “Even making this movie adaptation was like walking a tightrope.

Since it’s a project that could have gone either way, we actually mulled over the script for some time before finally deciding to do it,” he said.

Return Of The Cuckoo is now showing at cinemas nationwide.