Was Chen Hanwei the most "suay" cast member of 'Blessings 2'?

We speak to the stars of 'Blessings 2' about their experiences on the set of the upcoming period drama

The cast of 'Blessings 2' at the press conference
The cast of 'Blessings 2' at the press conference
21 Sep 2018

The cast of 'Blessings 2' at the press conference

When we asked several cast members of Blessings 2 to name one of the toughest things they faced while filming the Channel 8 period drama in Malaysia, almost all of them said the same thing: it was hot.

Like, almost 40 degrees Celsius (as Zhang Yao Dong guesstimated, at least) in the hottest part of the country during a surge in temperatures (that affected even Singapore) kind of hot. "It was like a sauna, but we still had to concentrate on acting, and it was not easy," admitted Shaun Chen. Rebecca Lim remarked that in order to create a set that was as realistic possible, they "suffered quite a lot" in the "stuffy and uncomfortable" environment (and it didn't help that most of her scenes were shot outdoors).

Chen Hanwei, however, almost made it sound like the extreme heat was a, well, blessing (pun intended?) instead. "We prayed that there would be no rain, and there really was no rain!" he chortled. "But the sun was relentless – it was way too hot."

That said, everyone also came to the contented conclusion that their sun-scorched and sweat-drenched sacrifice was worth it, especially after seeing the final trailer that was played at the press conference earlier this week. "It looks good and it doesn’t look like we were perspiring," Rebecca chuckled. "Now when I look back, I'm very satisfied with what we did," said Yao Dong.

(Continued on next slide: Chen Hanwei's accommodation woes)

Chen Hanwei's accommodation woes
Chen Hanwei's accommodation woes
21 Sep 2018

Chen Hanwei's accommodation woes

The big burning ball in the sky aside, one of the major talking points during the Q&A session on stage at the media conference were the numerous swimming and underwater sequences involving Hanwei, Rebecca and Shaun. As the main character who finds himself transported back a century into the year 1918, Hanwei had the most of such scenes, as the time-travelling tends to happen in bodies of water.

While Rebecca had already told us a bit about their "scary" shoot in the river, where they weren't sure if there were hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface, what we didn't know then was that Hanwei was literally facing a fear of his head-on at that time.

"I'm fine with swimming pools, but I have a phobia when it comes to lakes, rivers and the sea because I once saw a shark while diving in the Maldives," he shared. "Basically, I get quite scared when I don't know what could be underwater. The crew reassured me that it was safe but, you never know! We were in a jungle in the wild, so it's hard to tell."

But Hanwei, ever the trooper and consummate professional, blazed on with the scenes all by himself without a stunt double. "The only time I had a stunt double was when my character falls from a very, very high place into the water, but other than that, I did everything else myself," he said.

Unfortunately, all the action took a toll on his body. According to Yao Dong, Hanwei was the cast member who kept falling sick and getting injured the most, but the latter modestly brushed those off as small issues and claimed that his illness was simply the result of fatigue. What he did gripe about was the difficulty of settling the seemingly simple issue of a place to stay upon his arrival in Ipoh.

"I had to change rooms five or six times," he recalled. "The first one didn't feel right (like it was haunted); the air-con wasn't working in the second one; there was no hot water in the third room; and the faucets were leaking in the fourth. Finally, the fifth room had no issues, but it was frustrating because while everybody else was able to get on with their filming, I was busy changing rooms."

Despite all these suay (unfortunate) setbacks, Hanwei happily reported that by some miracle (or rather, blessing - pun intended!), they managed to wrap up filming on time without any overruns.

(Continued on next slide: Paige Chua fulfils pottery learning resolution)

Paige Chua fulfils pottery learning resolution
Paige Chua fulfils pottery learning resolution
21 Sep 2018

Paige Chua fulfils pottery learning resolution

It certainly wasn't a case of all work and no play for Paige, who took the opportunity to sign up for pottery classes in Ipoh, something she told us she had wanted to do for a long time.

"I told them that whenever I have free time, I'll be there regardless of whether there is an ongoing class or not," she said, adding that she was willing to pay extra for one-on-one lessons.

The first item she created in the studio was a rabbit pen holder for her niece, followed by an owl figurine, before going on to make vessels like plates, cups and bowls. "My teacher said I'm talented, okay? (laughs)" she proudly reported. "I'm not super good but for a beginner, I did fine."

Paige's crafty journey didn't end when she arrived back in the Lion City. In fact, she will begin pottery lessons here next week, which she will juggle with her many other endeavours, namely the flute, guzheng (Chinese zither), and intensified workout sessions in preparation for her new martial arts drama with Zheng Ge Ping and Rebecca. "I hope I'm a Taichi expert or something," she grinned. Now that is something we can totally picture the well-known yoga practitioner doing.

Additional photo: Instagram/Paige Chua

(Continued on next slide: Zhang Yao Dong traumatised by sports injury?)

Zhang Yao Dong traumatised by sports injury?
Zhang Yao Dong traumatised by sports injury?
21 Sep 2018

Zhang Yao Dong traumatised by sports injury?

That must have been one intense badminton game Yao Dong was playing when he tore his Achilles tendon, which landed him in the hospital for a month. He was discharged two weeks ago and was able to make it to the press conference (albeit in an ankle brace and crutches), and told us that he can probably start walking by himself in another two months or so.

However, he explained that his accident happened not during the climax of the match, but just when they were about to wrap things up. "I know this injury is common among professional athletes, but I keep wondering how on earth this happened to me - even the doctors don't have an answer!" he laughed.

Because of this small mishap, filming for Yao Dong's scenes in his new drama Heart to Heart had to be put on hold for three to four weeks. Thankfully, his more action-packed sequences were already completed before he injured himself, and for now, he can do his scenes while sitting down.

When we asked if this incident has made him afraid to engage in such energetic activities again, he didn't hesitate. "I think so! (laughs) This is the worst injury I've ever sustained during sports." Awww, don't worry, Yao Dong, we're sure you'll be up running and jumping again soon. Speedy recovery! (bicep emoji)

(Continued on next slide: Rebecca Lim's first day frustrations on set)

Rebecca Lim's first day frustrations on set
Rebecca Lim's first day frustrations on set
21 Sep 2018

Rebecca Lim's first day frustrations on set

Before her terrifying encounters with the water, Becks had a preview of how tough things were going to get on her very first day on the set of Blessings 2, when she was filming a cycling scene with Hanwei at Fort Canning Park here in Singapore.

"I had to ride a very high bicycle with Hanwei sitting behind me, and I really, really couldn't do it – I'm not a very good cyclist, for one, and we were shooting on uneven ground, which was very dangerous," she recalled. "It was actually just a very short distance, about 50 metres, but I really just could not balance at all."

She continued with a laugh, "I had half a mind to ask someone else to try it out to see if it was just me who found it difficult! But we only had one day to finish the scene, so we did it with a lot of fear in me and Hanwei. He wanted to add a line, 'It's all right, I'll just take a taxi.' (laughs)"

We’re glad they’re both safe and sound.

(Continued on next slide: Shaun Chen has a responsibility to stay safe for his family)

Shaun Chen has a responsibility to stay safe for his family
Shaun Chen has a responsibility to stay safe for his family
21 Sep 2018

Shaun Chen has a responsibility to stay safe for his family

Like Hanwei and Becks, Shaun had a tough time with his swimming scenes. He named the part where he had to save Rebecca's character from the water as one of the most challenging ones because it seemed impossible to make it to the surface while also dragging someone else with you (we can totally imagine how hard that must have been).

"I felt like I was going to faint," he said. "And I think we had to shoot that scene over 10 times."

That's about the furthest Shaun would go when it comes to potentially risky scenes, especially now that he has a family (wife Celine and their young daughters Nellie and Neia) to take care of.

"The stunts that we did [for Blessings 2] weren't that serious or life-threatening, but if you asked me to, for example, jump from the top of a tall building, then I would definitely think twice about it," he said. "If there are reliable safety measures in place, then okay, I might dare to do it, but if not, I'm not willing to take that risk. As the head of my household, I have a responsibility to make sure that nothing happens to me."

Additional photo: Instagram/Shaun Chen

Chen Hanwei, Rebecca Lim, Shaun Chen, Chen Shucheng
Chen Hanwei, Rebecca Lim, Shaun Chen, Chen Shucheng
21 Sep 2018

Chen Hanwei, Rebecca Lim, Shaun Chen, Chen Shucheng

Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong, Paige Chua, Chen Hanwei
Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong, Paige Chua, Chen Hanwei
21 Sep 2018

Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong, Paige Chua, Chen Hanwei

Adele Wong, Yao Wen Long, Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong
Adele Wong, Yao Wen Long, Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong
21 Sep 2018

Adele Wong, Yao Wen Long, Michelle Wong, Zhang Yao Dong

Zhang Yao Dong attended the press conference in an ankle brace and crutches
Zhang Yao Dong attended the press conference in an ankle brace and crutches
21 Sep 2018

Zhang Yao Dong attended the press conference in an ankle brace and crutches

Blessings 2 premieres October 1, 9pm on Channel 8. Watch episodes of Blessings on Toggle.

Related:
Bruised and battered but blessed: Rebecca Lim
Chen Hanwei, Rebecca Lim get romantically involved in Blessings 2
What is one mistake the cast of Blessings 2 wants to undo?

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