First look at 2017 mid-year blockbuster The Lead

The upcoming Channel 8 drama stars Shaun Chen, Rebecca Lim, Andie Chen, Chen Hanwei and more 

The upcoming Channel 8 drama stars Shaun Chen, Rebecca Lim, Andie Chen, Chen Hanwei and more
The upcoming Channel 8 drama stars Shaun Chen, Rebecca Lim, Andie Chen, Chen Hanwei and more
12 Oct 2016

The upcoming Channel 8 drama stars Shaun Chen, Rebecca Lim, Andie Chen, Chen Hanwei and more

Photos: Lee Wei Lin, Channel 8
Video: Sarah Tay

The Dream Makers 2 ended its highly successful run earlier this year, earning much praise for its depiction of what it’s like behind the scenes in showbiz. Next year, we’ll have a brand new look at the goings-on in entertainment with mid-year blockbuster The Lead, which stars Shaun Chen, Rebecca Lim, Andie Chen, Julie Tan, Chen Hanwei and more.

Kicking off the first of its many imaging sessions yesterday (Oct 11), Shaun, Rebecca and Andie, who will form the show’s main love triangle (they poked fun at each other during the shoot, asking if we could guess who Rebecca would eventually choose without revealing the answer), spent most of the day changing in and out of their plethora of outfits.

The show, which takes place from 1990s to 2017, sees the leading trio “grow” from their 22-year-old selves to established career men and women, and also sees a good mix of outfits from the almost-three decades the show spans.

From checking out the a-go-go outfits that had the stars burst out laughing at each other (and themselves) to hearing what they had to say about their first leading roles, click on for more.

Shaun Chen: My wife has a flair for acting
Shaun Chen: My wife has a flair for acting
12 Oct 2016

Shaun Chen: My wife has a flair for acting

Shaun, who plays Ah Ge Xie Guang Hui, described his character as someone who’s a bit of a poser – and slightly self-absorbed. Chuckling that the role reminds him of Li Nanxing (only part about being an Ah Ge though, as he said that Nanxing is “handsome enough that he doesn’t need to be a poser”), he added that most of the characters are a mix of real-life personalities.

Updating us on his personal life, he shared that his wife and daughter have since settled down in Singapore after moving here earlier this year. “My wife doesn’t really have many friends here so it’ll be good if she can get to know more people (…) I had a short break recently so we went back to Malaysia to be with our families, so that was pretty good,” the 37-year-old shared.

Now that his daughter is 10 months old, he shared that she has started to babble, with some of her favourite words being “da da da da da” (daddy) and “ma ma ma ma ma” (mummy – which Shaun laughed sounds like mum-mum, the baby language for eating). Adding that little Nellie seems to be musically inclined, the proud father said that he will not stop his little girl from joining the entertainment industry if she chooses to in future, but that “I won’t introduce her to showbiz just yet, because she’s still young and can’t give her an opinion yet.”

On the other hand, he shared that his wife, Celine, seems to have a flair for acting. “Sometimes, when she sees me practicing my lines at home, she’ll ask me what I’m doing and offer to work on them with me,” he shared. “I explained to her that it’s not as easy as reading the lines as they are, as you have to know what happens before and after that, and that the scene doesn’t exist on its own (…) I’m glad that I get to share part of my career with her this way.”

Andie Chen: ‘Godma En En’ is a shopaholic
Andie Chen: ‘Godma En En’ is a shopaholic
12 Oct 2016

Andie Chen: ‘Godma En En’ is a shopaholic

“I’m glad I get to keep this hairstyle – at least I look more normal now!” Andie chuckled as we asked him if he cut his hair for the role. He previously sported a bowl cut while filming Hero, but will be keeping a shorter ‘do this time around.

His character, Hong De Ping, is described as one who speaks faster than his mind works, causing him to unintentionally step on many people’s toes. He becomes a taxi driver after his showbiz career fails, but manages to make a grand comeback after proving his mettle.

Andie deadpanned that his children’s godmother, Rui En, who recently returned from New Zealand, brought back “lots of stuff for the kids – but nothing for the parents!” Calling her a shopaholic, he added, “Even when she was there, she’d shop online and send stuff to our house. I think she’s secretly a girly-girl in her heart because she really likes buying pink lacy dresses for Avery – her clothes are all so girly!”

While Rui En might have become godmother to his children after Avery’s birth, he laughed, “It makes no sense if she’s only godma to Avery – if you want to be godma, then you have to be godma for both kids! During her last visit, Aden coined a new nickname for his godmother – Godma En En.

“We told him to call her Godma En, but he came up with the ‘En En’ part on his own,” the father-of-two said with a shrug. “I won’t say if I think she would make a good mother – she might hit me if I say the wrong thing again!”

Rebecca Lim: I don’t know where I got my confidence from when I was younger
Rebecca Lim: I don’t know where I got my confidence from when I was younger
12 Oct 2016

Rebecca Lim: I don’t know where I got my confidence from when I was younger

Rebecca, who plays Ah Zhen, is someone who loves showbiz so much that she will do anything and everything to stay in the industry. She climbs her way up to become a bigwig in the company, shedding her country-bumpkin image to become a polished, refined lady.

While she sports a pixie cut for the first part of the drama, she declared, “No, no, no to cutting my hair for real! I used to have shorter hair when I was younger but not since – I can’t bring myself to snip it off!” If, however, a drama “really, really, really, really” requires her to do so, she will resign herself to her fate and do so as required.

Sharing that she likes the retro looks that she donned for the day, Rebecca let on, “When I was younger – maybe when I was in upper primary – I used to open my mum’s safe and try on her jewelry. I’d also put on makeup like she did and wear her jackets. Padded jackets were all the rage back then and I really liked how it looked.”

“My mum knew about it but she didn’t scold me for it – there was once I had to take a passport photo and she helped me apply the eyeshadow – pink on the inside and blue on the outside, and you had to make sure it was really obvious – and I really went to take it looking like that,” she chuckled. “Back then, I was pretty plump but I liked to dress up and went out thinking I looked really good, but I don’t know where I got my confidence from!”

Chen Hanwei: Looking good on screen is no longer my priority
Chen Hanwei: Looking good on screen is no longer my priority
12 Oct 2016

Chen Hanwei: Looking good on screen is no longer my priority

Playing a stuntman hailing from Hong Kong is no easy feat, as Hanwei says. “I’m still trying to immerse myself into the role and make the Cantonese in my speech more natural – instead of emphasising the Cantonese words, which sounds very forced, I’m still practicing integrating it so that I can be convincing in my role,” the veteran explained.

Sharing that he usually avoids wearing wigs in dramas, he shared that he might have to don up to two different ones this time to show the change in trends over the years. As Ah Zhen’s (Rebecca Lim) father, he mused that he would rather give off a brotherly vibe with his reel-life daughter instead of a conventional father-daughter chemistry.

When it comes to playing “The Lead” for a drama, Hanwei recalled his first leading role as Fang Lao Shi in The Morning Express and shared that he would only give himself 50 out of 100 marks for his performance in that show. Hanwei explained, “Back then, I felt that I had an idol image to maintain – I thought of myself as an idol – so I wanted to make my character really cool and handsome without giving much thought to other aspects. Now, looking good on screen is no longer my priority and this thought doesn’t even exist in my mind.”

Sharing that his mother, who underwent an operation last month, is still on the road to recovery, Hanwei mused, “I hope she can make a full recovery soon.”

Xiang Yun: I have no regrets about being in showbiz
Xiang Yun: I have no regrets about being in showbiz
12 Oct 2016

Xiang Yun: I have no regrets about being in showbiz

“I think my character (Chen Xiangrong) is pretty representative of actors my age, who have been around in the industry for many years,” Xiang Yun shared. “I was very emotional when I read through the script because I noticed a lot of real-life stories that were included in this drama. I didn’t spot any trace of myself [in my character] yet, but there were many stories about others that were written into this drama. I found out about things that even I myself didn’t know about through this drama, so that was really interesting.”

Touching on the multitude of glitzy outfits she donned throughout the shoot, the 54-year-old mused that her three decades in showbiz has kept her ahead of the trend throughout the years. “My work is to be at the forefront of the fashion trends – I’m lucky that I’ve been able to wear the prettiest clothes throughout the years and I have no regrets because I feel that I’ve been blessed in many ways.”

“We used to wear shorts and slippers and even take the bus when we first started out. There are more and more fans of our local stars so I notice that even the younger generation will have to put in effort to look good when they’re coming in to work,” she explained. “We were pretty carefree back then but I think it’s different now.”

Cassandra See plays 'super-auntie' Zhao Mei Li
Cassandra See plays 'super-auntie' Zhao Mei Li
12 Oct 2016

Cassandra See plays 'super-auntie' Zhao Mei Li

Will Shaun Chen and Rebecca Lim have their happily ever after in The Lead?
Will Shaun Chen and Rebecca Lim have their happily ever after in The Lead?
12 Oct 2016

Will Shaun Chen and Rebecca Lim have their happily ever after in The Lead?

We're getting major throwback vibes with this 90's getup from the pair.
We're getting major throwback vibes with this 90's getup from the pair.
12 Oct 2016

We're getting major throwback vibes with this 90's getup from the pair.

WATCH: Andie Chen: Rui En is a shopaholic!

The Lead premieres May 22, 9pm on Channel 8.

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