Chen: Sex photos were consensual

Actor breaks silence in CNN interview to air this week

HONG KONG -- Actor Edison Chen was afraid to go out and was legally prohibited from speaking publicly over a sexually explicit photo scandal in January 2008, he said in an interview with CNN set to air Wednesday.

Chen spoke about his hiding and refusal to return to Hong Kong, and admitted that there were more than 1,300 photos taken of Hong Kong actresses and singers in sexual acts and various states of undress, all with their consent. "Everything was mutual," he said. "It was all consensual. ... If I have a camera in front of your face and there's a flash, do you know that I'm taking a photo of you? That's as simple as it is," Chen said in a preview transcript provided by CNN for the Talk Asia interview show.

The photos were stolen from Chen's laptop when he took it in for repair in 2006. A 24-year-old computer technician was found guilty in May and sentenced to eight months in prison. Chen refused to return to Hong Kong to testify in the trial amidst rumors of a triad-planned hit. He said of his hiding: "I was afraid to go anywhere. I was traveling around when I was still in Hong Kong in trunks of taxis, literally, just to get to places. I had to be in the trunk for 15 minutes. I didn't even know if I had enough oxygen to be honest with you."

"Even when I had left Asia and I had went to Canada and America, it took me three months to really get out of the shell that I had put myself in. I mean, I was in darkness for five days. I had my drapes closed and I didn't even want to go anywhere," he said.

The first photos emerged online in early 2008, and the scandal exploded across Asia. Actresses Cecilia Cheung, Gillian Chung and others were identified in the photos. Both went into forced-retirement after the photos surfaced. Chung's part in Chen Kaige's "Forever Enthralled" was cut entirely, and the release date of her film "The Fantastic Water Babies," directed by Jeff Lau, was postponed indefinitely.

During the interview, Chen apologized to Cheung, who had given a series of interviews to Hong Kong media voicing her outrage at Chen's reticence. "I wasn't allowed to talk to her (initially) because of the police request and they were investigating me, which already had troubled me a lot," he said. "I really do feel sorry. I really am sorry to her."

Chen last had a 15-second cameo in last year's blockbuster "The Dark Knight," which shot partially in Hong Kong. The film "Sniper," in which he starred, saw its release delayed for a year before finally debuting in April.