Photos: Dion Tang, 26th Singapore International Film Festival
Video: Tay Yixuan
When Malaysian model–actor–singer Lawrence Wong, 33, stripped to begin shooting a palpitating 10-minute love scene in local director Eric Khoo’s erotic drama film In the Room, his co-star, porn actress Shou Nishino, remarked in Japanese, “That’s huge.”
But the comment wasn’t directed at any part of Lawrence’s anatomy - Shou was talking about the giant loincloth covering his bits. “She only had a small piece of fabric across her middle, but mine was gigantic,” Lawrence recounted with a laugh. “And before going on set I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom taping it down everywhere so it wouldn’t budge.”
The fresh face recently seen in Channel 8’s long-running drama series 118 took a leap of faith with the daring role in In the Room as a fitness trainer who engages in an illicit relationship with a married Japanese woman. Their story is one of six that make up the movie, which depicts unconventional relationships and events that take place in Room 27 of the fictional Singapura Hotel, from the 1940s to modern day.
Though not yet permitted for public screening in Singapore, the erotic movie premiered at the recent 26th Singapore International Film Festival under an R21 rating. It has also been nominated for the 20th Busan Film Festival, the 40th Toronto International Film Festival and the 63rd San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain.
In the Room’s international cast include Hong Kong’s Josie Ho and South Korea’s Choi Woo-shik.
In the buff
Lawrence’s friends tried to dissuade the actor from taking part in In the Room, saying that for the time being he didn’t need to resort to such drastic measures to make an impression.
“Eric said I was a perfect fit for the role, but when he described it to me I got goosebumps,” Lawrence said. “I just had to accept it, not for the bed scene, but for its portrayal of the intense relationship between two people.”
“At that time my main struggle was thinking about how to act out the scene in a way that didn’t look like a porno but showcased the beauty of the characters’ emotions.”
And after watching the final product at the Singapore Film Festival, he added he had no regrets about taking on the project and said his performance was decent.
With so much skin on show in In the Room, Lawrence hit the gym and controlled his diet religiously for a month while filming. “I was afraid I would be seen at my worst when the movie gets uploaded on the Internet, and then I’d hate myself,” he said.
Pain from a sprain
Next to 30-year-old Shou, who debuted in Japanese adult films in 2004, Lawrence was a total greenhorn - “The first time we met, Shou was completely at ease, even cracking jokes with her assistant over breakfast, but I was so nervous and my heart was beating really quickly,” he said.
But after having finally warmed up to his co-star over the three-day shoot, he sprained his back before filming on the last day and arrived on set needing two production assistants to support him.
“They laid me onto the bed and then flipped me over slowly to lean me against Shou - it was difficult,” Lawrence said.
And since he delivered such an intense on-screen performance, is it a hint that he’s no longer a virgin?
“I’ll leave that the audience’s imagination,” he replied.
The 26th Singapore International Film Festival is on until December 6. Visit the official website for more details.
This story is translated by Zara Zhuang.