Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Newbie actor Richie Koh will be based in Changzhou, Jiangsu for a month to work on this project

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh will be making his big screen debut – not in Singapore, but in China. The 24-year-old is currently based in Changzhou, which is in Jiangsu, China, for a month while working on Shanghai Tan Shen Tan (it loosely translates to The Legendary Detective of the Shanghai Bund), where he plays assistant to the detective, the latter whom is played by veteran Hong Kong actor Fan Wei Yee.

Prior to this project, he garnered rave reviews for his role as a full-time national serviceman (NSF) who was also a mummy’s boy in When Duty Calls.

Richie shared that he arrived in Changzhou on October 11, and took a couple of days to get used to the surroundings and immersed himself into the role before starting to film. As of today, he would have entered his second week of filming, and will return to Singapore in mid-November.

He was sniffling when we spoke to him on the phone, which he attributed to the colder weather and dryness in the air. “Yesterday, it was 11 degrees, which was the coldest that I’ve experienced so far. It’s usually about 18 when we film, which is really comfortable because that means we don’t really perspire! Don’t worry, I’m not sick,” he assured.

The web movie, which will be made available on streaming sites Wanda and iQiyi, has no confirmed release date yet. It also stars actors from different countries, and Malaysian singer-actor Auguste Kwan and Hong Kong actor Q Bobo (Gill Mohinderpaul Singh) are among the celebs that Richie will share the screen with.

The young actor will be taking on a character that he’s never tried his hand at – a bumbling sidekick who has problems with his speech and frequently stammers. There are also a large number of action scenes that he will be a part of, including wushu sequences, gun fights and explosions.

(Continued on next slide: Richie on how he’s been preparing himself for the role)

Richie on how he’s been preparing himself for the role
Richie on how he’s been preparing himself for the role
26 Oct 2017

Richie on how he’s been preparing himself for the role

Speaking about how he got the role, Richie let on, “I had a meal with the boss of the Chinese company that is in charge of the film, and they asked me if I was keen on being a part of this movie because they felt that this was a role that was suitable for me. They wanted someone whose build was a little smaller, but had a handsome face and could be a tad silly, to play the role, which is why they felt that I was a good candidate. The timing for this project was also just right.”

Although he did not have a formal audition, the team looked at his photos and reviewed his past works before deciding on casting him for this movie.

To prepare himself for this new project, Richie revealed to Toggle through a phone interview that director Chris Lau, who has helmed movies such as Ultimate Intelligence and The Saving Hands, requested for him to pick up mixed martial arts (MMA) or Muay Thai in order to be able to better carry out the action scenes.

That means that every day, after filming wraps, he returns to his hotel room to watch MMA videos in order to pick up the actions and body language that trained fighters use.

Before the cameras roll for every action scene, he practices with trained martial arts experts in order to ensure that they are making the right movements.

“My character, Xiao Ding, has to be a little silly at the start, so I haven’t really learned how to hold a gun – that way, I’ll really look like I don’t know what I’m doing. Later on in the movie, when it’s revealed that I’m actually not what I seem, then perhaps I’ll make changes to my body language and minor details like that,” he explained.

(Continued on next slide: Richie on the most challenging aspect of his character)

Richie on the most challenging aspect of his character
Richie on the most challenging aspect of his character
26 Oct 2017

Richie on the most challenging aspect of his character

Apart from stepping up on his action scenes, Richie has also had to work on making his stuttering realistic. He chuckled, “Some people drag out their words for too long or say their words in a very unrealistic manner, so I’ve been practicing it a lot and at times, I even end up stuttering when I’m talking to others in real life.”

“Even when filming wraps for the day, when I’m talking to others around me, I end up not being able to step out from my character and stutter as well. My character is someone who’s a bit odd, and also has no confidence in himself; so playing this character is definitely a challenge for me,” he added.

Richie shared that he is also thankful to the cast and crew, who have been nothing short of welcoming towards him.

“On the first day that I was on set, they cracked a lot of jokes so that I’d feel more comfortable,” he expressed. “My character stutters a lot, and now we’ve gotten so close that they sometimes also mimic my stuttering when we’re having dinner, so all of us have a good laugh over it.

“I can take a while to say my lines when the cameras are rolling, and even though they might get annoyed since I’m taking a really long time, they have to pretend that they’re listening to me very intently, so after we’re done for the day, they ‘get back’ at me in that way,” he chuckled.

(Continued on next slide: How has Richie been adapting to working in China?)

How has Richie been adapting to working in China?
How has Richie been adapting to working in China?
26 Oct 2017

How has Richie been adapting to working in China?

“Thankfully, I haven’t been scolded by the director just yet, even though he’s someone who has very high expectations of all of us. He’s the most particular about the tempo of the movie, so he’s been explaining certain things to me very patiently. The funny thing is, he laughs at my stuttering rather than scold me, so I’m glad that I haven’t caused any trouble so far,” Richie mused.

When he first arrived, the actor shared that he got a culture shock at the volume at which people talk at. He explained, “People talk here really loudly, so I was really surprised. I thought that they were telling me off, but after a while, I realised that it’s just the way that they talk, so I’m used to it now.”

As for whether he will be looking to bringing his career overseas, Richie admitted, “I won’t rule out this option, but I’d definitely want to film at least one or two projects a year in Mediacorp even if that happens. After all, Singapore is my home and my career started back home, so I’d always want to return to where I started.”

“I think I’m really lucky to have been given such an opportunity at such an early stage of my career. After I completed my national service, I started on When Duty Calls, which made me feel that I was still in the army. After that, I worked on 118 Reunion, and now I have this movie. I’m really thankful, and I’ll definitely make sure that I do my job well and maintain a rookie mindset so that I’ll always work hard to become even better at what I’m doing.”

Click on for more photos of Richie's experience in China!

Photos: The Celebrity Agency

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film
26 Oct 2017

Richie Koh makes big screen debut in Chinese film

Catch Richie Koh in 118 Reunion, which premieres January 29 2018, 9pm on Channel 8.
Catch past episodes of When Duty Calls on Toggle.

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