Photo: August Pictures
There’s been much buzz around Toggle Original Beijing to Moscow, which stars Taiwanese actor River Huang, Malaysian actress Jojo Goh, along with Singapore’s Felicia Chin and Aloysius Pang. Not only was the drama filmed from Beijing to Moscow over two months, but the 13-episode series is also Aloysius’ last acting project before he passed away from injuries sustained during a reservist accident.
Ahead of the drama’s debut on Toggle today (June 13), the media was invited to a private preview of Beijing to Moscow, where a specially-edited version of the first three episodes were played at The Projector.
River, Jojo and Felicia burst into peals of laughter throughout the screening, which they later explained to Toggle were because of the shared memories that they have while filming the series.
“Seeing our faces on such a huge screen meant that we could read a lot of the micro-expressions that we don’t usually get to see on TV, and it was fascinating for us to see these micro-expressions that we make on a regular basis,” Felicia quipped.
Seeing that they are close enough to be able to read and remember each other’s micro-expressions, we asked the trio to dish out a TMI (too much information) crumb about any of their fellow cast mates, which somehow turned into a free-for-all attack on Felicia.
“I thought she was really weird the first time I met her,” River said. “I was sitting next to her, and she was reading something on her phone. While fully concentrated on what she was reading, she kept making weird sounds like ‘Oh!’ ‘Mmm…’. It was so strange, especially since we were almost strangers at the time. I later found out that she would do that when she read something that gave her an epiphany of sorts.”
As it turns out, this wasn’t the only time Felicia did this, as Jojo chimed in that she was most prone to doing so when she was reading the bible. “She even brought it to the gym once,” Jojo revealed. “But compared to her other habits, going to the gym with a bible didn’t throw us off that much.”
Curious, as we egged the co-stars on to reveal Felicia’s other quirks and boy did they have a field day.
“I was so shocked when I entered her hotel room in Ulaanbaatar,” Jojo recounted. “She transformed the room into her home – there were post-it notes covering one wall, and she had flowers and [aroma] diffusers too! The most amazing thing is that she unpacked everything from her luggage and placed them nicely in the room, as if she was moving in permanently.”
At this point, Felicia had to stand up for herself, as she explained that they spent 15 days in the Mongolian capital, which was why she decided to spend her free time making her hotel room feel a little cosier.
If you thought this was the end – it wasn’t. “I got told off by Aloysius for holding up the entire crew too!” she bemoaned. “I travelled with two large suitcases, and there was once when I was having a bit of trouble moving them, and instead of helping me, he jokingly chided me for bringing too much stuff and not knowing how to pack my luggage properly!”
Once Aloysius’ name was brought up, it opened a floodgate of memories as the trio fondly remembered how the late actor’s quirks tickled them to no end.
“We were filming for two months, but he brought along this tiny suitcase which was only half full,” River smiled. “He said that he didn’t know what to pack, and that he only brought along two pairs of underwear.”
Aloysius’ infamous saying of ‘Google lah, you’ll see enough’ when it came to visiting the sights and sounds also got an added dimension when they exposed the reason behind his refusal to go horseback riding with them.
“He said that the horses would have a hard time if he rode on them,” River laughed. “He really had a mind of his own.”
This unique mindset would also see him picking out the smallest rooms in all the hotels that they stayed in. “To him, his satisfaction levels with regards to his living quarters would be measured by how many steps he’d have to walk to get to the bathroom,” Felicia said. “He liked the hotel in Beijing the most, although it was the smallest and most terrible out of all the places we stayed at because his room was right next to the elevator. He could walk out of his room and into the elevator immediately.”
Photo: River Huang/Instagram
Not only did Aloysius like tiny rooms, he also made sure to configure every single one of them to his convenience the moment he moved in. Regardless of how heavy the furniture was, he would arrange everything in such a way where everything would be within reach.
Another reason why he liked his Beijing hotel is because of the zhajiangmian (noodles with soybean paste) shop which he would eat every day. His loyalty towards the noodles was so memorable that the cast wanted to place a bowl of it in front of his hotel room on his birthday. However, they couldn’t find a zhajiangmian store in Ulaanbaatar, and had to settle with surprising him with his first birthday cake in seven years.
At this point, we were nearing the end of our interview time slot, but had only heard about Felicia’s and Aloysius’ quirks. What about the other two?
“River was really ungentlemanly when we were in Mongolia!” Jojo suddenly remarked with a chuckle. “It was really cold and he had this huge, warm coat on. Once he heard someone ask me, ‘Are you feeling cold?’ he zipped his coat up all the way instead of offering it to me!”
Laughing, River defended himself saying that they were close enough to joke around like that by the time that happened, and that he would have “definitely” lent his coat to Jojo if they encountered a similar situation in Beijing, where they first started filming.
“Yes, I definitely would,” he grinned, which was met with outrage from the girls. Jojo quickly explained, “It was so hot in Beijing! Passing either of us his coat while we were there would just mean that he wanted us to carry it for him.”
With this, we were out of time, but before we bade goodbye, Felicia and Jojo promised to think about more juicy secrets about River to tell us when we meet next month for the drama’s press conference.
We’re already counting down the days.