Photos: Camelia Ting, Dion Tang, Channel 8
Videos: Foong Mien Shi
To prepare for his leading role in the new family drama Hand In Hand, Bryan Wong gained 15 kg of muscle after spending two to three months in physical training, watching his diet, and eating chicken rice without rice (“Half a chicken for $12 — it’s expensive!”).
But the actor makes it clear he does not favour the chunky gym rat look — after filming wrapped in June he worked hard to lose 12 kg and return to his original physique. “My beefed-up appearance grossed me out, but I was glad people around me appreciated my gym efforts. Colleagues and even aunties on the streets were surprised to see me, and they would pretend to hug me and pinch my arms.”
Bryan was speaking at the Hand In Hand press conference on Tuesday, which was attended by other cast members Jesseca Liu, Aloysius Pang, Seraph Sun, Sora Ma, Ben Yeo, Zheng Geping and Hong Huifang.
The new drama depicts the strained relationship between four siblings in the Hong family, played by Bryan, Jesseca, Seraph and Aloysius, and their quest to fulfill their late mother’s wish. They work together to track down their father, who disappeared 20 years before in connection with a sensational kidnapping case.
Bryan does double duty, playing the roles of the father and the eldest Hong sibling, who is a ruffian involved in illegal gambling.
Back to his roots
Bryan says the gym training he went through was tough, but he enjoys every chance to act because acting has always been his passion.
When he started out he fell into hosting and stayed for 20 years. But despite his hosting accolades, he has never given up his dream of acting.
Bryan negotiated for a renewal on the condition that he be given more acting roles when his contract with MediaCorp ended last June. But after Gonna Make It!, In the Name of Love, You Can Be an Angel Too and now Hand In Hand, he says he hasn’t received any new acting engagements, and it’s unlikely he will be filming for new projects before the year ends.
Taking a break
On his temporary unemployment, he said, “Whether it’s acting or hosting, age is a crucial factor. I’m past 40, so there are many things I can still do but would make audiences uncomfortable. Sure, I can act cute if you want, but would that be palatable?”
Bryan dedicated two decades to hosting and so missed out on a range of acting roles, but he says he has no regrets. “That’s life,” he said. “If there’s a chance to try new things, take it; don’t stay in your comfort zone.”
He’s not busy with filming, but he isn’t bumming around either — instead he’s spending more time managing the furniture and interior design firm he launched last year, Home by Bryan Wong.
Though he has no expansion plans, Bryan is hands-on with his side business: Besides personally designing a furniture line, he’s in the office every day helping out.
But if hosting gigs for variety shows come calling, will he be open to going back? He thinks about this for a while, and chooses his words carefully: “At every age, at every stage in life, we all hope to try different things. When I joined this industry I started out in comedies, and then I went on to hosting and stayed for 20 years. I tell myself I mustn’t stay in the same place.” He adds that it’s time for a change of environment.
Without new projects on his schedule at the moment, Bryan says he’s spending lots of his time these days resting. “Honestly, I enjoy this feeling! I’m not itching to go back to work yet.”
This story first appeared on toggle.sg/ch
Story by Camelia Ting
Hand In Hand airs September 25, 9 pm on Channel 8; it will be available on Toggle-It First from Sep 17.
More videos from the Hand in Hand press conference:
Geping, Bryan and Ben: Whose body is a chocolate bar, bak kut teh or washing board?
Hong Huifang thinks Geping and Sora's kiss is not deep enough!
Seraph Sun: Aloysius will suddenly sing some old songs in high pitch on set!