Photos: Elis Ching, Lee Zi Jin
Video: Aaron Ho
Movie star turned TV actress Elsie Yeh is best remembered for her racy roles in the 90s and Taiwan Hokkien soap operas today. So whatever prompted the actress to take on the role of a middle-aged mother in upcoming Channel 8 drama series 29th February?
The answer, according to Elsie, lies in the riveting drama script which will see its lead characters get caught in a time loop and repeatedly live out the same day over and over again. She will play a 50-year-old mother to two children aged 24 (Aloysius Pang) and 21 (Hong Ling), and local actor Thomas Ong’s onscreen wife in the show.
When we sat down for a chat with the actress at the lensing ceremony of the show yesterday, Elsie admitted that it was hard for her to perceive Aloysius and Hong Ling as her children considering that she does not have any children of her own.
“I haven’t treated them as kids yet,” the actress said, although she shared that she was happy to be acting as their mother on the show, because “they are such good-looking kids.”.
Elsie might very well be describing herself, as she looks barely a day past 35 and can even—in the words of Aloysius—play a May-December couple with him.
“I watched her shows while I was growing up,” the 28-year-old actor shared. “When I saw her in person, I thought she still looked the same (as when she was in 1994 movie Shaolin Popey II: Messy Temple, when she was 25 years old), when in fact those were aired such a long time ago!”
“Instead of playing mother and son, I think we may even be able to pull off a May-December relationship,” Aloysius quipped.
Hong Ling was equally awed by her co-star’s presence. “Now that I’ve met her in person, I think she’s really sophisticated and classy,” she gushed during an interview with Toggle. “When we met over a meal, she made small talk to try to understand me better, and I felt closer to her afterwards. She does not put on any airs.”
The two young actors had a completely different experience with Thomas however, whose workaholic nature also took Elsie by surprise.
WATCH: Hong Ling says that she can’t understand Aloysius
(Continued on next page: Thomas gets ousted by his co-stars for being a ‘workaholic’)
Thomas is a ‘workaholic’: co-stars
According to Elsie, Thomas exchanged exactly “four lines of pleasantries” with her when they met for the first time before diving straight into work discussion. “I was so surprised because he started discussing drama details with me right after we greeted each other,” the actress said, “He is so hardworking.”
Aloysius recalled receiving a phone call from Thomas out of the blue, asking to meet at the producer’s house because he had something to discuss with him. “We never contacted each other before that so I was very surprised,” he revealed. “At that time, I wondered what he wanted to talk about because I have not finished reading the script.”
According to Aloysius, Thomas is the first veteran actor to contact him to discuss work matters. While the actor’s sudden call left him flustered about their meet-up, Aloysius revealed that he has “no complaints” about it. “When I see him working so hard, I feel as though I’m not doing enough, and I get motivated to do more,” he mused.
“Turns out, he wanted to meet everyone to understand each other better, and wanted to discuss the script so we can establish a common goal to work towards,” he added.
Besides focusing on his own role (we heard that Thomas started discussing his role in detail with the producers about two months ago), the 49-year-old actor also gave Hong Ling a lot of advice about her role, something that made her slightly stressed.
“He feeds me a lot of information about my role, and that’s a good thing, but I get stressed over that,” she shared. “However, I would say that it’s a good form of stress, because he taught me a lot in the process.”