Father-son pair Zhu Hou Ren and Joel Choo will be working on the same drama project for the very first time this year – Channel 8’s A Million Dollar Dream. This will also be the younger Choo’s very first Channel 8 drama after starring in Channel 5’s Faculty, and Toggle caught up with the veteran artiste and his rising star son at the drama’s imaging session to get up to speed on what to expect.
While viewers might be excited to see the duo ham it up for the cameras, we’ll be the bringer of bad news to confirm that they will not be sharing any scenes together. “In the series, I spend most of my time wooing Yi Jing (played by He Ying Ying),” Joel chuckled.
“I play two characters in the show – Ba Ge and Ba Di. Ba Ge passes away within the first few episodes… Wait, the director said that I shouldn’t reveal too much, so I can’t say any more,” Hou Ren grinned. Their reel-lives will not cross at all, and in Hou Ren’s words, “Even if we have filming on the same day, we’ll film our respective scenes on our own and won’t bother each other at all.”
What then, are their thoughts on the missed opportunity on working together closely in the future – perhaps even as a reel-life father-son pair?
“If I have to be in the same scene as my dad, I think I’ll be a bit nervous,” Joel admitted. Hou Ren chimed in, “As you can probably tell, I’m a really strict father – you’ll probably be able to tell by just looking at me. Although Joel’s taller than me, he still has to look up to me when he’s in front of me.”
WATCH: Zhu Hou Ren and his son Joel won’t have scenes together for “A Million Dollar Dream”?
As for Hou Ren, he chuckled that he’s been “smiling non-stop” since he knew about working on the same drama as his son, and that “if I get even better news that we’ll be acting as a father-son pair in another project, I might be so happy that I might get a heart attack!”
That being said, given that Joel still “has some way to go” in terms of his Mandarin-speaking abilities, we wondered out loud: who is more nervous about Joel’s maiden Channel 8 drama between the two of them.
“We received the scripts on the same day, but when I got home, I saw that my dad bookmarked quite a number of pages,” Joel quipped. “They weren’t the pages with his lines on them; they were mine! He told me, ‘I’ve bookmarked the pages that include your lines, read these and analyse your character properly.”
Hou Ren couldn’t help but to add, “He must be saying that I should’ve minded my own business, right?” With an embarrassed laugh, Joel replied, “I think he’s even more nervous than I am!” and his dad couldn’t help but to deadpan, “I bookmarked it when I saw it – he doesn’t have much scenes, anyway, so he might miss out on certain pages if he looks at it himself.”
Hou Ren 1: Joel 0
(Continued on next page: Joel Choo on why he chose acting over music)
After graduating from Singapore Polytechnic with a Music and Audio Technology diploma, we asked Joel why he decided to pursue acting over music.
Joel is also part of Maxime, a Singapore-based alternative rock band, and shared that his decision of signing a one-year contract with Mediacorp won’t get in the way of his music-making. “I’ll still pursue music when I have the time,” he shared. “After all, it’s a good way to relieve stress, too.”
After completing his mandatory military service last month, the 23-year-old signed on the dotted lines and has officially let music take a backseat.
“I have to figure out a way to earn money, right?” Joel mused as his father chuckled in disbelief. “Since I like acting, and it’s something that I can earn a living with, shouldn’t I focus on this aspect?”
Hou Ren clarified with a laugh, “This isn’t something I taught him – I never knew that he was so realistic with his decisions!”
Hou Ren 1: Joel 1
Joel Choo in his drama debut, Channel 5's Faculty
Joel added that his passion for acting was ignited while he was filming Channel 5 drama Faculty, and that he’s keen to learn more about the craft that his dad has been a part of for a good part of his life.
The veteran actor shared that he previously hoped that his son would pursue another career path that didn’t include showbiz, but the younger Choo’s determination to follow in his father’s footsteps ultimately triumphed.
“Of course, my dad shared his wisdom and advice with me but ultimately, it’s my decision to make,” Joel shared. Hou Ren added, “I can’t tell him not to be an actor, because I’ve been one for over three decades. I can only hope that he puts in his best effort into this.”
Hou Ren continued, “Being in showbiz isn’t easy. You won’t find yourself the king of the hill in the span of a day, and it’s not every day that you find someone who can hit it big with just one project. I hope that through training, he’ll be able to stay in the business for an even longer time.”
Wise words to live by indeed. Joel, we hope you’re taking notes.
A Million Dollar Dream debuts April 11, 9pm on Channel 8.