Photos: Tammi Tan, Channel 8
Videos: Zhang Jia Hao
Last week, Desmond Tan flaunted the fruits of his two-month labour (of clean eating and vigorous exercise) when he shot a scene for The Truth Seekers in naught but his skivvies and shoes – but that was not the most daring thing he embarked on for the upcoming Channel 8 drama, which centres on a team of investigators that tackle cold crime cases.
In November, the cast and crew headed to a Japanese restaurant to film an act where, upon losing a bet to Rebecca Lim’s character Huang Yu Yang, Hong Jun Yan (played by Desmond) has to fulfil his end of the bargain and accept his punishment by wearing a bikini.
However, when the 29-year-old duke first found out about this interesting task in the script, his first reaction was not to be embarrassed by the thought of squeezing into a skimpy two-piece for the very first time.
“I was pressurised because after enjoying lots of good food in Penang while filming Mata Mata, my body was quite out of shape, so I started training very hard and eating healthily,” he told Toggle in an interview during a set visit yesterday (Dec 2). “Shooting both a topless and bikini scene in one drama is quite incredible! But I was satisfied with the results.”
When asked what it felt like to don the scanty beach garment, Desmond admitted that it was “confusing” at first because he didn’t know how to put it on. “It’s quite hard to reach to the back to tie it – I don’t know how girls do it!” he remarked.
After struggling with the perplexing swimsuit at the drama’s imaging session a few months ago, Desmond thought he would be able to handle it on the day of the shoot, but he ended up wearing it too high on his chest – and that was only the beginning of his adventures.
As filming took place during the restaurant’s regular opening hours, there were several people around to witness the actor’s brave feat. “When the waiters started laughing when they saw me, and some Japanese customers went (mimics shocked, gaping expression),” he recounted sheepishly. “I felt quite paiseh (embarrassed) and ran into the private VIP room.”
His friends and family members didn’t seem to take too kindly to the sight either. When he showed them pictures of his risqué getup, Desmond expected them to admire his hunky build. Unfortunately, the reaction he got was more along the lines of, “Oh freak, so disgusting!”
“They said it’s just weird seeing me in a bikini,” he chuckled.
Although it seems like he suffered a slight blow to his manly image with this stunt, Desmond declared that it was all worth it. “When I heard about this, I took it like a soldier because I like challenges,” he elaborated. “Also, these scenes are quite beneficial for the character in terms of comical value – it’s really funny to see him lose a bet when he was so confident!”
The cast of the The Truth Seekers (clockwise from top left): Yusuke Fukuchi, Rebecca Lim, Desmond Tan, Brandon Wong, Hong Ling, Chen Hanwei, Lyn Poh
Over the weekend, a group of our local artistes made their way to Cambodia for the inaugural PPCTV MediaCorp Awards, where Desmond picked up Favourite Onscreen Couple, which he shared with Jeanette Aw for The Journey: A Voyage.
“I’m thankful for winning my first ever award in Cambodia,” he gushed. “It also made me realise how magnificent my job is – it doesn’t just stop at Singapore’s borders, but has gone across to places like Cambodia and China. It’s very heartening to know.”
While he was there, he received lots of local delicacies, paintings of himself, two huge teddy bears, and an interesting proposition from a fan – an invitation to her wedding. “Because I’ve been to Cambodia a few times and the fans are very active on social media, I know them by name. I’m so happy she’s getting married!” he exclaimed.
Chen Hanwei and Rebecca Lim are open to doing bikini scenes as well
When asked to share her thoughts on Desmond’s bikini scene, Rebecca could only muster an awkward, speechless smile before bursting into laughter and saying, “I mean he did work very hard for that body, and I’ve got to give him props for that.”
Despite not being a stranger to skin-baring swimwear (she’s worn bikinis during her Miss Singapore Universe 2005 days and for several photo shoots), the 29-year-old expressed her relief that it wasn’t her who had to strip down in the scene.
“I mean, I would do it if it’s absolutely necessary, but hopefully the production team would give me lots of time to get into shape because I’m nowhere near a bikini body right now!” she confessed. “I would be fine with doing a bikini scene without a bikini body (if the role called for it), but I don’t know if the audience would be okay with seeing me like that! (laughs)”
Japanese actor Yusuke Fukuchi, who plays IT whiz Lan Hai Feng in The Truth Seekers, did not hesitate to express his willingness to rock a bathing suit on screen. “If the script calls for it then I will do it – I’ve done topless scenes before and I have no fear when it comes to acting,” proclaimed the former model.
Expressing similar sentiments was veteran actor Chen Hanwei. “I would do it whether I had a good body or not, because as an actor, I don’t do things just for the sake of showing off my physique,” he explained. However, he draws the line at training as diligently as Desmond did for the bod of a god. “I’ve tried it before and it’s very tough – no way!”
If the day ever comes when viewers get to see the 46-year-old challenge a bikini scene in the name of entertainment, we wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with more acting nominations. Speaking on his recent nod for Best Supporting Actor at tonight’s (Dec 3) Asian Television Awards (for The Journey: Tumultuous Times, which bagged him the same accolade at this year’s Star Awards), Hanwei admitted that as he is not very familiar with the other contenders’ works, it’s difficult to gauge his chances of winning.
He would also like to put all talk of his famous lucky charm, a black rose brooch, to rest. “It’s very weird – I only started wearing it because it looks nice,” he said. “So it’s strange to have people think that I only win awards because of it.”
The Truth Seekers debuts April 27, 2016, 9pm on Channel 8.