29 June 2011
The journey from physics graduate to international actor and pop star isn’t particularly well travelled. So when Hong Kong alumnus Aarif Lee returned to the South Kensington Campus recently, Simon Watts from Communications and Development took the opportunity to ask him just how he did it.
Aarif, who graduated in 2008, is primarily known for his music in Hong Kong, but has recently branched out into films, taking the lead role in Young Bruce Lee. As we toured his old campus haunts he spoke about his time at Imperial and why he swapped the Laws of Motion for Kung-Fu and CantoPop.
Always more the musician than the physicist, Aarif said the Music Technology elective course he took was instrumental in his development. After graduation he returned to Hong Kong where he began publishing and recording the songs he’d written in his basement flat of the Albert Hall Mansions. That early success brought him to the attention of a director looking to cast a young Bruce Lee. Without a martial arts background, the training proved intense: “We only had about two months for the martial arts and fitness training. And apparently Bruce was an ace cha cha dancer, so I had to learn that as well!”
We returned to the Library, scene of many a late-night cramming session, where Aarif recalled: “I’ve got a lot of memories from Imperial, and it’s quite amazing how much this place has shaped me as a person. I was never really one of those Physics geniuses so it was quite a challenge for me – the learning curve in the first year was really quite steep. Perhaps I’ll be like Brian May and return at some point to do a PhD.”
— Simon Watts, Communications and Development