Photos: Tammi Tan, Channel 8
Video: Tan Shi Qi
There was laughter and friendly jibes galore between Aloysius Pang and Carrie Wong during our interview at yesterday's press conference for Life - Fear Not, but just six months ago, it was a completely different scene at the Star Awards.
Both of the rising local stars were contending for Best Newcomer, and although they sat together during the ceremony, they barely exchanged words as it was their very first time meeting each other.
"The only sentence he said to me was, 'Later I'm going to move my leg so you can pass through to get your award', but in the end he won!" Carrie recalled with a laugh. Because of Aloysius' quiet and reserved demeanour, she said that the initial image she had of him was that of "a cool kid".
That all changed when they reunited for the upcoming Channel 8 long-form drama, where they play onscreen lovers. According to Aloysius, in order to get into his lively character Zhuang Dao Ren, he tries to maintain a very high level of energy on set by cracking jokes and singing, even when the cameras aren't rolling.
But his "method acting" came with a price: "(Carrie) said that after she knew me on set, I practically ruined my own impression."
"I prefer the real him because he's someone I'm very comfortable with," Carrie, who plays the delusional Bai Mei Gui, explained. "It's very unnatural for him to be so high." (After some probing from Aloysius, the Hey Gorgeous 2013 runner-up admitted that she still thinks he is a cool kid.)
Aloysius had his fair share of "incriminating" Carrie tales to regale us with. "She falls down a lot," he reported. "It has become such a classic thing that whenever someone else trips, I say, 'You just did a Carrie!' She also doesn't know how to hold plastics bags or open bottles."
Jokes and roasts aside, the co-stars had plenty to praise about their chemistry, which came quickly and easily to them. "On my first day of filming with Aloysius, I knew we were going to be okay," said Carrie, giving their chemistry a generous rating of eight to nine out of 10.
The duke agreed with her assessment. "It's very comfortable working with her; whatever we do while filming comes very naturally, we don't have to plan our reactions," he said.
Life - Fear Not could potentially present a notable first for both young actors: a wedding scene. However, as the complete script for the 120-episode programme has yet to be released, nothing has been confirmed.
If it does come to pass, Aloysius hopes that it will happen after his character suffers the tragic fate of becoming handicapped (again, details on this are still fuzzy). "It would be beautiful to see my character, after going through whatever he's gone through, walk down the aisle."
Does Felicia Chin intend to reopen The Mama Shop?
Another woman in Aloysius' character's life is his older sister Zhuang Dao Han, played by Felicia Chin. Despite collaborating for the very first time, they are already behaving like real siblings.
"We have a very fun relationship and we're always teasing each other - he's really like a younger brother of mine," she told us in a separate interview. "It's nice to share a good bond with a new co-star."
His gentlemanly gestures also earned a string of compliments from the actress. "He's very nice and considerate. Once, when the weather was hot, he forked out his own money to buy portable fans for us! It gave me a very good impression of him," she gushed, adding that she'd love to be paired up with him as a couple in future projects.
In the meantime, she will be busy romancing a range of other fictional male suitors in Life - Fear Not, including Zhang Yao Dong, Jeffrey Xu and Elvin Ng. The latter will provide a nice dose of nostalgia for fans of 2012's Don't Stop Believin', as it features him returning as Wu Yanbin out searching for Du Siman, Felicia's character in the older drama. Viewers will have to stay tuned to find out if Dao Han is really Siman with amnesia, or if Yanbin has just mistaken her for his lost love.
Just as her onscreen father Zhuang Shui Qing (Chen Shu Cheng) owns traditional inn My Humble Lodge in the series, Felicia, too, has started businesses of her own. In October last year, she teamed up with Sora Ma to open café The Mama Shop; then, in May this year, she launched seafood eatery Wholly Crab.
Sadly, The Mama Shop announced its sudden closure in August. "There were a lot of factors (such as) issues with how the place was, but there's no need to go into details," she shared. "It's just unfortunate that certain things happened, but ultimately The Mama Shop will always be a brand and if there's a suitable time and place to reopen, then why not?"
Life - Fear Not debuts October 19, 7.30pm on Channel 8; watch it on Toggle-It-First.
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