Jeong returns in The Hangover Part III as Mr. Chow, the violent gangster with a heart of gold. Or at least fool’s gold.
“He’s a villain who likes to laugh,” says Jeong. “Mr. Chow changed my life,” he says.
“He opened up a new world for me and I was able to work a lot as an actor because of the first Hangover. Now this is the biggest role I’ve ever had, in the part that I’m most well known for. You can’t ask for better than that.
“This is beyond anything I ever expected. When I quit my day job as a doctor I just wanted to be a working actor. I just wanted to have lines in movies. That’s all I ever wanted.”
Before finding fame as an actor, Jeong lead a double life — practicing medicine during the day and doing standup at night.
“I wasn’t trying to keep (the two lives) separate, like Clark Kent separate,” he says. “It was my hobby, my golf. It was a way for me to keep up with the intense hours of medicine. Work hard, play hard mentality.”
These days he is in touch with some of his former patients.
“I have patients that I email with or keep in contact with on Facebook and they’re always happy for me because I wasn’t a wacky, schticky guy when I was a doctor.
“I was pretty intense and pretty serious.
“The stuff I get now from my patients is, ‘We’re just so happy you have an outlet. You were just so serious. We thought you would explode.’
“When they found out I did standup comedy back in the day when I was practising medicine they’d say, ‘I’m so happy for you. You’ve finally found a way to channel all this stress out.’”
The Hangover Part III is the finale of the series, but Jeong would like to see Mr. Chow go on more adventures.
“Mr. Chow, and I’m not saying this because I’m promoting the movie, is my favourite character,” he says. “The spectrum of imagination on that character is so wide.
“I would love to see him in any situation and see what he would say or do. I would love a Chow spin-off. I love that character so much.”