Fiona Xie: ‘Honey, I’m Home’

The production lunchbox, loyalty and nostalgia: the other reasons behind Fiona Xie’s return to TV in upcoming Channel 5 drama Left Behind 

Fiona Xie on the set of 'Left Behind'
Fiona Xie on the set of 'Left Behind'
10 Jun 2016

Fiona Xie on the set of 'Left Behind'

Photos: Joanna Goh
Video: Tan Shiqi, Sarah Tay


FULL CIRCLE: That was how 2016’s comeback kid, Fiona Xie, likened her return to showbiz and journey as an actress, after retiring from the goggle-box in 2009. One week ago, when news first got out that she would be starring in an upcoming Channel 5 production as a psychiatrist called Jennifer, she cryptically shared that the stars were aligned, she had family commitments, plus everything fell into place naturally for this comeback to happen.

When we paid her a visit on site last night, the ever-so effervescent and bubbly actress was filming an important car accident scene with her co-star Oon Shu An.

In between takes, during her interview with Toggle, Fiona revealed that loyalty was another reason behind her decision to take on this role, as she wanted to thank the person who brought her into the industry 15 years ago.

“Kenneth (Liang), who was the Executive Producer, asked me to do it and he was the very first one who I did the War Diary with… So I sort of came full circle, I think. I started with War Diary (in 2001) because of him and now I’m back on TV with Left Behind!” said Fiona with an impish grin.

Having a sense of nostalgia for the big screen was another motivating factor that made her say ‘yes’, after rejecting a handful of acting opportunities during her years of absence on TV.

“I have been approached previously for many other projects which I did like, but somehow things just didn’t work out. But for this, things just worked out and here am I. I think life is all about timing and everything happens for a reason. I have no why and there is no why,” she quipped.

Everyone’s favourite actress whose name is oft-associated with the word ‘enigma’ and has a penchant for all things abstract, from the arts and fashion to even interview answers, talks to us about overcoming a certain acting hurdle that has bogged her down for years, and lets in on the likelihood of her doing a Channel 8 drama series again.

Read on for more.

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

Toggle: How does it feel to be on set again, after a seven-year absence?
Fiona: Initially it was slightly strange… But at the same time it’s been so fun. Jason [Godfrey] my co-star whom I have more scenes with is great. He’s like completely funny and so we’ve been having so much fun filming. Gavin the director and Emily the producer are so much fun it feels like home. The crew is amazing, the food is great – I’ve been eating so much! Actually we’re here just for the food (laughs). We’re on set just for the Styrofoam box food. Seriously, it’s damn shiok. Ah Hua, the guy who packs our lunches and dinners, have been feeding us so well that everyone wants to be on the Left Behind set. Sorry, but that’s the truth – there’s no philosophical thingy behind it (Laughs).

What do you miss most about being an actress?
I think, for some strange reason, I was born with a very high level of empathy or, at least, I can feel how others feel. So when I look into a role, it’s nice to imagine how this character feels and [understand] why – and that’s something I enjoy.

Although a little secret is I could never, ever cry on cue, and that has always been a handicap so to speak. But at the same time I didn’t read the script before I agreed to this and every scene is a crying scene… So far, it’s been rather OK. I’m pretty thankful that I came to overcome this on a personal level because I’ve always been fearful about it. I think it’s one of the first shows I started bawling [on set] and that never happened to me maybe because I have so much fear that I held myself back. But now I’m like, it doesn’t matter, it happens if it happens – just wing it. I think that’s what we have to do in life – just take things as it comes, don’t worry, don’t have fear and eliminate fear.

(Continued on next page)

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

Are the crying scenes your biggest challenge on this drama then?
There are so many challenges in life, but I think the biggest challenge was me. I think everyone can sort of relate to that with every exam that’s coming or every responsibility or work that comes. The biggest challenge or the biggest obstacle is always you, yourself or me. You’re always thinking in your head: ‘Can I do this? How do I act in this?’ That’s why I say letting go is what I learned most and what I’m trying to apply right now. Letting go and knowing that there will be grace to carry through— I think that’s what the biggest challenge is.

Would you consider doing another drama after this since you’re feeling nostalgic… maybe a Channel 8 drama?
Never say never. I really didn’t think I’d come back. Even this was so organic and I didn’t plan for this. Y’know, I’m shocked [still because] every day I’m like ‘What am I doing?’ But after doing it, I do understand why I was in it for such a long time… and also I miss having a call sheet. [On set] you just have to do it, don’t question it and just get the day done with the whole crew working on it together. Sometimes in life you just have to do that – take things as it comes, wing it and do your best.

You’ve been away for such a long time and everyone’s curious about what you’ve been doing. So, what have you been busy with?
I’ve been citizen of the world and quite the nomad. After I left, everyone knows I was living in Hong Kong, then I moved to New York, then I moved to Shanghai and dabbled in everything; I was in love, fell out of love; I was in art, doing art stuff; a producer; a photographer; I was doing fashion – I have a fashion store in Shanghai; and I was in Tokyo most recently – I was just everywhere. And I don’t know, one day you just sit down and think ‘Where is home?’ Home is where your family is, where the people closest to you are. I enjoy meeting new people, uncovering all these new places and living there but ultimately my parents are growing old, my brother is here and that to me strikes a chord – yes, I want to be back for a while and, yes, I miss the local food so much! I mean, I think I was just overworked or too tired back then – doing project after project for so many years that I never got to be a teenager. I joined [the industry] when I was 19 and I never got to live life. So I took time, I went to see the world and did what I want to do. Now it’s like ‘Honey, I’m home.’

Welcome home, Fiona.

Fiona is in her character's 18-year-old getup for a flashback scene in the drama
Fiona is in her character's 18-year-old getup for a flashback scene in the drama
10 Jun 2016

Fiona is in her character's 18-year-old getup for a flashback scene in the drama

"How do I look in bangs?" she asked, after getting a touch-up in between takes. 

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

There is never a dull moment on set with Fiona around. The high-spirited actress was like an energizer bunny, greeting random cyclists and passersby, when the cameras aren't rolling.

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

Fiona and the stuntman who was behind the wheel for her car accident scene.

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

Who wore it better? The stuntman or Fiona?

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona
10 Jun 2016

On the set of Channel 5 drama 'Left Behind' with Fiona

Left Behind premieres on Channel 5, August 22, 10pm. 

Watch: Behind-the-scenes with Fiona Xie on the set of Left Behind

Related:
Fiona Xie to make acting comeback in August
Style Evolution: Fiona Xie

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