Photos: Dion Tang
Video: Teng Siew Eng, Vanessa Lim
Get used to seeing Rui En quite unlike her glamorous self. Come May 30, the actress will be trading her trademark red lips and winged eyeliner for a bare face, dishevelled hair and a fat suit for her new role.
In the upcoming Channel 8 drama series If Only I Could, Rui En plays Chen Zhen Hao, a woman struggling to keep her family together despite a disapproving mother-in-law (played by Hong Hui Fang), an easygoing husband too generous with his meagre earnings (played by Andie Chen), and a son with hyperactivity.
Zhen Hao is later diagnosed with breast cancer, and together with a former schoolmate and rival who’s also seen her share of misfortune (played by Paige Chua) the pair travel to the past to start their lives over.
On her first experience portraying a frumpy auntie, Rui En said, “If every character I portrayed were beautiful, it’d be boring. So I’m happy to play something quite different this time.”
The actress is pleased with how her homely look turned out. “This is the first time I don’t have to report for hair and makeup, and I can wake up and come straight on set,” Rui En said. “So I’m looking forward to it, I can sleep in!”
But the fat suit needed to give Rui En a porky midriff is a challenge to wear, she said. “Filming in Singapore is tough enough, and the fat suit feels like a down jacket in this weather,” she said. “I was just told it has to be washed by hand and we have two pieces of this, but once I think about how much sweat this thing absorbs….”
Siblings to spouses
After playing brother and sister in Code of Honour four years ago, Rui En and Andie Chen have now graduated to portraying husband and wife in If Only I Could. “I’ve been promoted,” Rui En said with a laugh.
Andie has had a busy few years, with his move to break into the Taiwan market three years ago, his participation in Channel 8’s The Journey trilogy drama series and his stage debut in December Rains.
But Andie still hasn’t given up on gaining a foothold in Taiwan, especially since his wife, actress Kate Pang, is from Taiwan and he considers the island his second home.
In fact, he says he has accepted an acting offer and will head over next February for a month of filming. Kate and their 16-month-old son, Aden, will accompany Andie while he’s there, he says. “We’re happy when we’re together as a family,” he said. “Plus I can’t bear to be apart from the boy.”
Little Aden is becoming a celebrity in his own right, with his regular appearances on his parents’ Instagram pages, and his comedic streak is more obvious by the day.
“He’s sneaky,” Andie said. “Sometimes we talk to him and he pretends he can’t hear us.”
Sadly, Aden missed a chance to be the big brother recently. During an interview with Toggle in April, Kate said she had to abort her 1-month-old foetus because it carried a chromosomal abnormality.
But the couple went for their first trip together last month, touring New Zealand and Sydney, Australia, for their belated honeymoon. Did the pleasant weather and cheerful mood inspire them to … get busy?
“Why would you ask me such a question?” Andie said with a laugh. “Of course, we’re always trying for a second child.”
If Only I Could debuts May 30, 2016, 9 pm on Channel 8.
This story is translated by Zara Zhuang.
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