Photos: Toh Zi Yi
Video: Tay Yixuan
Huang Biren first made her return back in 2014 with the top-rated drama Three Wishes, where she acted alongside Thomas Ong.
Now, two years later, the duo is back for Channel 8’s latest drama, Fire Up, which centres on the topic of ex-offenders.
However, while it would be a bonus to have a top-rated drama, the two are not hoping to intentionally recreate another Three Wishes.
“It depends a lot on the script and the audience’s reaction as well,” mused Thomas, who plays Zhuang Ying Xiong, the son of a wealthy businessman who helps Biren’s character open an eatery. “For Three Wishes, the script left the audience on the edge of their seats as the plot progressed, [which is why the reception from the public was good].”
This time round, their second collaboration will see a different dynamic to their on-screen relationship as well.
“We aren’t ‘first loves’ in this drama. In Three Wishes, we played a loving married couple. In Fire Up, however, we do bicker a lot,” Thomas shared. (Spoiler alert: The couple don’t actually get together until near the end of the drama.)
Even during our interview with Thomas and Biren, the duo constantly revealed little secrets and tidbits about each other, laughing at each other’s reactions.
Thomas's aversion to vegetables ("Can you believe that he doesn't even eat beansprouts?") was the first cat out of the bag, though he did get back at Biren by revealing how she used to be a “princess who doesn’t cook” before getting married.
The actress had earlier shared that she had learnt a couple of skills from a chef prior to filming, as she plays Zheng Mei Mei, an ex-offender-turned-cook in Fire Up.
To prepare for her role, she constantly observed Chinese zichar chefs and even learned to master the powerful fires and and huge woks that the chefs often use.
But of course, it's always good to be able to work with a familiar face again.
"We have quite a bit of chemistry, and I have worked together with them before so it’s pretty comfortable to be able to film with them now," revealed Constance Song, who plays Eva Liang, an ex-offender who works at the eatery.
The trio's friendship was apparent during the filming as well, as they practised their lines during a break, battling against the loud music from a getai rehearsal a few streets away by attempting to shout over the music.
The main theme of Fire Up is also a topic that clearly resonates with the cast as well. During our interviews with Thomas, Biren and Constance, the topic of ex-offenders and second chances came up a couple of times.
“This show centres a lot on how ex-offenders attempt to re-integrate back into society after their release from jail, and the characters almost feel like a family,” Constance shared.
“There’s always a reason, a story behind why [the ex-offenders] committed a crime, and this drama brings out a lot of the hidden stories behind that,” agreed Thomas.
Fire Up debuts in October 2016 on Channel 8.