Rui En may be known for her “Ice Princess” image, but her The Journey: Our Homeland co-star Shaun Chen begged to differ after seeing her fun-loving side on set. “She is not as cold as what people imagine [her to be]. We play around a lot!” he asserted.
The main cast of Our Homeland (third and final instalment of the Ch8 blockbuster series), including Romeo Tan, Rebecca Lim, Felicia Chin, Andie Chen, Zhang Zhen Huan, Jeffrey Xu, Ian Fang and James Seah, attended a press conference on Wednesday.
Rui En’s role Yang Mei Xue, who is caught in a love triangle with Zhang Jia (Shaun) and Yan Yi Sheng (Zhen Huan), goes through many trials and tribulations in the drama. Although her love history is far less complicated in reality, the actress somehow managed to connect with Mei Xue’s character.
“Perhaps because I tried to interpret things from the point of view of women who lived in that era. Like why this girl chose to give up her happiness due to other priorities and responsibilities,” explained Rui En.
Last year, the actors packed their bags for filming in Penang and formed good chemistry from their daily banter. Reuniting with Rui En following The Dream Makers, Shaun was full of praise for the acclaimed thespian. “There are many emotional scenes in Our Homeland which are very challenging. It’s good to meet a co-star who can help you get into character very quickly,” he said.
In addition, Shaun revealed an incident during a filming break that left a deep impression on him. That day, some music started playing on set and Rui En unexpectedly broke into an À Go-go dance on the streets, without paying heed to her surroundings or image.
“She knows that I am a horrible dancer and yet she kept asking me to show her my dance moves. But I really like dancing because it’s a form of exercise and a way to interact with everyone. So we would all dance for a bit before resuming filming,” the actor let on.
When asked to rate Rui En’s dance skills, Shaun cheekily took a dig at the popular actress: “About the same as mine! (laughs)”
Hokkien opera is tougher than action scenes
In Our Homeland, Mei Xue picked up the tradition art of Hokkien opera while following her opera singer mother around, and was forced to perform on stage on one occasion. During her interview with Toggle, Rui En admitted that it was the toughest scene she has ever done.
Despite taking lessons from local Hokkien opera artiste Wei Li Fen previously, it was extremely challenging as the conditions during the training sessions and actual filming differed greatly.
Before shooting the scene, Rui En had to spend a long time putting on her make-up. The sweltering heat in Malaysia made things worse for the actress who was dressed in four layers of heavy costumes and headgear – she was drenched in perspiration after filming, “as if she just came out of the shower”.
“I have never experienced such a situation. Though there are scenes in C.L.I.F. and Against The Tide where I need to hit and chase after people, none of that compares to this. [Hokkien opera] is more taxing than action sequences!” she exclaimed.
A Cantonese who does not speak a word of the Hokkien dialect, Rui En performed an excerpt of the classic Hokkien opera Xue Gang for the show and her original voice will be used for broadcast. To put her best foot forward, the hard-working actress practised her lines whenever she was free, even seeking the teacher’s help to correct her pronounciation.
“When I first listened to Hokkien opera, I was very unfamiliar with it. And I realised that speaking and singing in Hokkien are two completely different things,” Rui En pointed out. “Maybe because I debuted as a singer, I was able to remember the singing parts. But if you ask me to say a few Hokkien sentences now, I can’t do it.”
This interview is translated by Dang Hui Ling.
WATCH: Rui En, Shaun Chen and Zhang Zhen Huan on their complicated love triangle in 'Our Homeland'
Related 'Our Homeland' stories:
Same old, brand new Rebecca Lim & Romeo Tan in Our Homeland
Rebecca Lim honoured to be part of SG50 drama
Rui En wants more scenes for "selfish reasons"?
Ian Fang & Shane Pow play siblings in 'Our Homeland'