Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau has pulled out of a potential role in Iron Man 3 to spend more time with his newborn daughter, reports Chinese-language paper Want Daily.

The 50-year-old Lau, one of Hong Kong’s most successful film and music stars since the 1980s, was rumored to have a starring role in the third installment of the blockbuster Iron Man franchise alongside Robert Downey Jr. The film, scheduled for release in May 2013, marks the first time a Chinese production company will be co-producing a Hollywood movie. Production for the film began in the US last month and its crew have reportedly begun scouting shooting locations in China.

Chinese media now report that Lau has pulled out of possible involvement due to the birth of his first child with wife Carol Chu on May 9. The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported that the producers of the film had contacted Lau but were turned down.

Dan Mintz, one of the producers of the film and the CEO of DMG Entertainment Group, told reporters on Tuesday in Shanghai that one of the Chinese character roles would likely be filled by a male actor over the age of 40 with strong English skills.

With Lau out, the frontrunners for the role are now said to be Chinese actors Chen Daoming and Wu Xiubo. The 57-year-old Chen is highly respected for his versatility and is perhaps best known for playing Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the 2002 film Hero, while the 43-year-old Wu rose to acclaim as the protagonist in the Chinese television drama Before the Dawn.

Chinese actresses contacted by casting reportedly include 32-year-old Yao Chen, who holds the largest number of fans on the popular Chinese microblog Sina Weibo, and 30-year-old Fan Bingbing, the country’s top-earning actress.

“The audience will be familiar with the Asian faces in Iron Man 3; our stand is to invest and produce a Chinese flavor and Chinese element international film,” Mintz said last month, when the film was still in its initial casting phase.

Mintz said the idea of collaborating with a Chinese production company arose from the film’s plot, not the other way around. The producer insisted that the film’s stars will be chosen for their suitability for the role and not their impact on the Chinese box office.

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