Photos: Teo Sijia, Jeanette Aw (@jeanetteaw_xuan) via Instagram
Video: Tay Yixuan
Romeo Tan has a gentler take on kept men.
“If a rich woman offered to support you, it means you’re attractive enough that she’d want to hire you as her social escort, and I suppose I’d be flattered,” the 30-year-old actor said. “But so far I haven’t got the chance.”
And what if such an opportunity did materialise?
“I’m on camera now, so of course I’d say no!”
There’s a price to everything and everyone, he said, and there will be a point where it becomes too tempting an offer to refuse. “But for now I’m doing well, and I have my family and friends, so I don’t need any of that,” he said.
The actor will take on the role of a nuanced baddie named Tim Goh in upcoming Channel 8 drama series The Dream Job, playing the vain, scheming investment consultant ex-boyfriend of Jeanette Aw’s character, Cheng Hui Shan - Tim’s not exactly an outright cad, but he’s a flawed man with weaknesses.
“It’s easy to make the audience hate a character, but it’s hard to get them to sympathise with him while despising him,” Romeo said.
Romeo’s Tim agrees to spend the night with a wealthy woman for the money. But after finding out his former girlfriend is one of three candidates selected to join the family of a horticulture firm’s boss and run the business, he conspires to win her back.
Through their on-screen collaborations in The Journey: Tumultuous Times and The Dream Makers 2, Jeanette and Romeo have grown accustomed to each other’s working styles and have developed a certain chemistry.
“It seems that I’m indebted to her somehow,” Romeo said. “In The Journey: Tumultuous Times I gave her a hard time, and then in The Dream Makers 2 it became her turn to torture me. I’ve a feeling this vicious cycle won’t end.”
Jeanette said Hui Shan, an ambitious, driven career woman, was different from the other roles she’s portrayed over the years. “I used to play characters with gentle exteriors but tough personalities, but for Hui Shan it’s the opposite,” she said. “She doesn’t display her weaknesses or tell anyone of the difficulties she faces.”
Jeanette herself revealed her vulnerable side on Instagram recently. The actress wrote about breaking down in the face of negative criticism of her portrayal of the conniving cabaret star Lulu in the fifth incarnation of Beauty World. (The well-loved Singaporean musical will end its month-long run tomorrow.)
“At the start I heard many unpleasant comments and they were hurtful,” she said. “Sometimes people will give a highly subjective critique of a performance but fail to see the effort poured into the production.”
Celebrity friends - including Stefanie Sun, Zoe Tay, Huang Biren, Andie Chen, Kate Pang, Zhang Zhen Huan and Sharon Au, who played Lulu in the 1998 production - have turned up in droves to support Jeanette in her first musical and singing role. Even award-winning singer Kit Chan offered words of encouragement and gave Jeanette a vocal lesson.
“[Kit] came to watch the first show, and though I was more nervous than usual on opening night and I didn’t perform as well, she had confidence in me and believed I could improve,” Jeanette said.
“She’s like a big sister and she helped me a lot. She said she’s never taught a vocal lesson, but she gave me a session and shared many tips with me on how I can do better.”
The Dream Job debuts June 27, 9 pm on Channel 8.
This story is translated by Zara Zhuang.
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