Photos: Teo Sijia and Dai Xiangyu
Video: Vina Chia and Tan Shi Qi
When Dai Xiangyu (formerly known as Dai Yangtian) made a sudden departure from the local scene in 2011, he left many of his fan girls heartbroken, wishing for him to return soon.
The charming actor may have been determined to expand his career beyond Singapore some years back, but he shared in his interview yesterday that he has been pining for an opportunity to act in a new local drama for a long time.
The 30-year-old, who is recently busy with the production of his Hollywood debut movie Lost in the Pacific in Johor Baru, specially made a visit to MediaCorp during his one-day break from filming to catch up with the Singapore media on his recent life and career advancements.
In his interview with Toggle, Xiangyu admitted that life was not a bed of roses when he uprooted his prospering career in Singapore to return to China.
The hopeful actor had initially shifted his career emphasis to China as he felt there would have been more opportunities to hone and showcase his acting skills. However, he struggled to come to terms with the stark contrast in the treatment he had received as he instantly fell from the status of a megastar to a “newbie amongst the newbies” in a new environment.
Regaining fame a step at a time
“The first two years were very difficult to get by. Yet, I would not consider it as a setback as it felt more like an extreme challenge and critical moment of my life. My boss asked me why I was so stubborn, telling me that I could still return to Singapore and MediaCorp anytime,” he revealed frankly.
“However, I felt that this challenge was good for me as I would walk out of it as a stronger person. I even gave myself a time limit that should I not become famous by the age of 35, I would switch paths as this career is just not my cup of tea. Surprisingly, this became a motivation to press forward to attain my goal,” he added.
Xiangyu’s perseverance paid off as he earned a contract with Mango TV, a subsidiary of China’s established broadcaster Hunan Broadcasting Media Group.
Soon after, the 30-year-old clinched a prominent role in his first idol drama titled ‘Singles Villa’ alongside popular actors Joe Cheng, Jiro Wang and Viann Zhang. He also shot to fame after taking on the role of lead actor in the second season of web drama White Flower and Long Leg, opening doors to job offers one after another.
In his interview, Xiangyu also clarified that Mango TV is only in charge of his activities in China. MediaCorp, on the other hand, still manages his work in Singapore and Malaysia.
(Click on for more on Dai Xiangyu's interview on the next page)
Filming his first Hollywood movie is like a nightmare
This year, the 30-year-old also earned the privilege to star in a Hollywood film. Though it seemed prestigious at first sight, what laid ahead for Xiangyu was a journey he had never expected to go on for his Hollywood debut.
“Before the filming began, I actually knew all my lines by heart. I knew them so well I could almost read them backwards, but it was completely pointless as things would go awry on set,” Xiangyu recounted.
“I broke down every day and even felt dejected over a line in the script. It was an insane(ly pressuring) place as the director and actors love to improvise the script on set.”
Xiangyu added with dismal, “Every time I entered the set, I felt like I had entered hell. Whenever we pronounced a word wrongly, everyone else would burst out in laughter. It felt as though they were from heaven while we suffered for our weak English pronunciation.”
“I finally understood how Pierre Png felt,” he jested.
Singapore is always on his mind
With his last local drama being Ch 8’s Poetic Justice in 2012, is he worried that Singaporeans have forgotten about him?
“I’m scared! Of course I’ll be scared! Thus, I’ll need all of your (the media’s) help,” he exclaimed.
Xiangyu added that he had received several casting offers from MediaCorp, but was unable to commit to the filming schedule as he already had work commitments abroad. However, the actor shared that should there be a suitable role and time, he would be happy to return to Singapore to film again.
This article is translated by Isadora Ong.