Julie Tan kicks butt as a flower fairy in Ch8 comeback

Journey back to her roots: Julie Tan takes on her first local drama in over a year, and tells us what role she plays in the local reiteration of ‘Journey to the West’

Julie Tan kicks butt as a flower fairy in Ch8 comeback
Julie Tan kicks butt as a flower fairy in Ch8 comeback
01 Jun 2018

Julie Tan kicks butt as a flower fairy in Ch8 comeback

Photos: WaWa Pictures, Julie Tan, Ann Kok

The veil of secrecy about Julie Tan’s role in upcoming drama Till We Meet Again has finally been lifted and no one is happier to talk about it than Julie herself.

“I was contacted in October about the role and I said yes even without reading the script,” she gushed during a phone interview with Toggle. “There’s a misconception that I don’t want to do local dramas, I will always support local productions. As long as the project is good and it suits me, I’ll definitely take it up.”

The actress continued, “The reason why I want to go overseas is to see how far I can go. It’s not that I want to give up on local dramas and the market. It’s me wanting to fulfil my goals and explore. Since I was 16, I’ve set my goals for myself and one of them was to go international when I was 25 - which I did last year.”

With the air cleared, Julie also told us more about her role as a flower fairy, Xiao Hua, which saw her filming in China with co-stars like Ian Fang and Elvin Ng for the prequel, which is set a thousand years ago.

Xiao Hua has a star-crossed relationship with Sun Wukong (played by Taiwanese actor Kingone Wang), who she falls in love with. He forgets about her and embarks on a journey to the west. That doesn’t stop her from wanting to be with her love, and she tries to convince him that they were once in love. Alas, her good intentions come to naught and Julie would only say that it “ended in tragedy”, and that she had to spend a thousand years looking for his reincarnations to seek his forgiveness.

As the 26-year-old had been in China for filming prior to starting work on Till We Meet Again, there wasn’t much of a culture shock for her. “This is my comeback project after taking a short break from local TV so I was thinking about how to be a better actress and how to showcase my talent,” she said. “It was pretty cold there so I wore three heat techs under my outfit, so that I would be able to focus my attention on doing just that.”

(Continued on next slide: Julie on how she hopes to work with Ian in a movie)

Julie on how she hopes to work with Ian in a movie
Julie on how she hopes to work with Ian in a movie
01 Jun 2018

Julie on how she hopes to work with Ian in a movie

The toughest scenes for her were the action scenes, which Julie proudly declared were all done by her. “They has a stand-in ready to do the martial arts scenes and other stunts, but I convinced them that I could do it myself.” 

Her confidence was due to the strong background she has - she knows how to rock climb, has learned wushu and Muay Thai, which she put to good use when scaling a 15-storey cliff during filming.

“I didn’t dare tell my mum that I was doing it; I only told her after and when I showed her the video, she scolded me, saying that I was taking my life too lightly!” she chuckled. “I’m adventurous and in my mind and I have no fear. I was having fun doing all my stunts and everyone was looking at me like, ‘You’re crazy’. Doing my stunts was the best thing ever.”

Another skill that Julie put to good use was her background in Chinese dance - she honed her skills in the art for 12 years from the tender age of 3. 

Before we ended our call, Julie made sure to make special mention of two very special friends who are part of the project too: Jeanette Aw and Ian Fang.

“The person who also motivates me a lot is Jeanette. She is very hardworking and someone that I respect a lot. She takes care of me, and when I face difficulties on set, I’ll go to her and she’ll help me as well. I really feel the love from her, and that’s why she’s my jie jie (older sister) to me!” Julie chirped.

As for Ian, who plays Pigsy in the prequel, the actress bemoaned that she believes that there is a four-year curse on them: that is, they only ever get to work together on a project every four years. 

“I was hoping that we could work together more often, but somehow we can only work together every 4 years. I really want to work with him in a movie. I’m also exploring scriptwriting now, so I told him that if one day I have a script that i can shoot into a movie, I’ll look for him to film it with me,” she shared.

“I really want to praise Ian because he has improved a lot. We had a lot of emotional scenes together and there was this one scene that we had to cry together. Everything was very heartfelt, and it was a very powerful scene for me. I’m so impressed with him and so touched after seeing everyone improve.”

(Continued on next slide: Ann Kok tells us more about her role as the nine-tailed fox)

Ann Kok tells us more about her role as the nine-tailed fox
Ann Kok tells us more about her role as the nine-tailed fox
01 Jun 2018

Ann Kok tells us more about her role as the nine-tailed fox

Another familiar face that viewers can expect to see on-screen is Ann Kok, who will be taking on the role of the nine-tailed fox. Her character will have more screentime during the prequel, and only appear towards the end of the modern-day version.

“My character is fixated on wanting to eat Tan Sanzang (played by Elvin Ng). She only has one goal, but she knows that there’s no use in trying to lure him in, so there aren’t many scenes where she’s trying to seduce him,” Ann explained to Toggle over a phone interview.

When she was first approached for the role, she admitted that she didn’t agree immediately because she had to see if she was able to fit it into her schedule. “Thankfully, most of the scenes were shot in China so I could do them all at once,” the actress shared. “I originally didn’t have any filming to do in Singapore but they added on a few scenes afterwards.”

Ann chuckled that one of the most memorable things that happened during filming in Ningbo was when the weather was exceptionally cold, and everyone’s heat pack supply was almost diminished.

“Our hands were freezing, but we only had one heat pack left, so Wukong (Kingone Wang), Pigsy (Ian Fang) Sanzang (Elvin) and I shared it. It was really cold that day because it kept raining but we had to continue filming,” she mused. “Before I arrived, the three of them were almost frozen! That’s why the four of us shared one heat pack, and at that moment, I really felt that we could rely on each other while we were huddling over that tiny source of warmth!”

The 45-year-old also did a few action scenes of her own, but had a stand-in ready for more intense scenes. “I don’t think wire scenes are dangerous, and there’s always a martial arts instructor on the sidelines watching us film. For example, if we have to jump off a building, as long as there are people looking after you and you can feel the tension of the wire keeping you safe, you’ll definitely feel less afraid,” she said. The only after-effects of the filming were huge bruises on her shoulders, as the wires were attached to that area.

As for when we’ll be seeing her again, Ann professed that she hopes to have more opportunities knocking at her door in the future. She shared, “As long as there’s an opportunity, I’ll consider it. The most important thing is finding a good role to play.”

Till We Meet Again is hyped as Singapore’s first period drama series in 20 years, after Fann Wong and Christopher Lee’s The Return of the Condor Heroes in 1998. Filming took place in Ningbo, China and at the same set used by Chinese series Eternal Love and Nirvana in Fire.

The last (and very precious) heat pack
The last (and very precious) heat pack
01 Jun 2018

The last (and very precious) heat pack

Julie scaled the cliff you see on the left, and later threw herself off it
Julie scaled the cliff you see on the left, and later threw herself off it
01 Jun 2018

Julie scaled the cliff you see on the left, and later threw herself off it

Julie shared more behind-the-scenes photos with us
Julie shared more behind-the-scenes photos with us
01 Jun 2018

Julie shared more behind-the-scenes photos with us

Kingone Wang and Julie Tan
Kingone Wang and Julie Tan
01 Jun 2018

Kingone Wang and Julie Tan

Ian Fang and Ann Kok
Ian Fang and Ann Kok
01 Jun 2018

Ian Fang and Ann Kok

Ann Kok as the nine-tailed fox
Ann Kok as the nine-tailed fox
01 Jun 2018

Ann Kok as the nine-tailed fox

Till We Meet Again debuts on Toggle in October. The modern version will air on Channel 8 in November.

Related:
Elvin Ng, Ian Fang headline Singapore’s first period drama in 20 years

Report a problem