Elvin Ng, Ian Fang headline Singapore’s first period drama in 20 years

The filming for ‘Till We Meet Again’ took place in Ningbo, China, and was the same set that Chinese series ‘Eternal Love’ and ‘Nirvana in Fire’ were filmed

Elvin Ng, Ian Fang headline Singapore’s first period drama in 20 years
Elvin Ng, Ian Fang headline Singapore’s first period drama in 20 years
04 May 2018

Elvin Ng, Ian Fang headline Singapore’s first period drama in 20 years

Photos: WaWa Pictures

Come October, the first Singaporean period drama after Christopher Lee and Fann Wong’s The Return of the Condor Heroes in 1998 will finally air. In Till We Meet Again (previously known as 1000 Years), local actors such as Elvin Ng, Ian Fang, Julie Tan, Ann Kok and Jeanette Aw will join hands with Taiwanese stars Kingone Wang and Steven Chiang.

The prequel, which is set in the past, was entirely filmed in Ningbo, China, over the course of three months and will be aired exclusively on Toggle. This was the same location where Chinese dramas Eternal Love and Nirvana in Fire were filmed. The modern version, which will continue the story, will debut on Channel 8 in November.

The characters in Till We Meet Again will definitely be no stranger to many – this reinterpretation of the much-loved tale, Journey to the West, follows the story of Sun Wukong (Kingone Wang), Zhu Bajie (Ian Fang), Sha Seng (Steven Chiang) and Tan Sanzang (Elvin Ng) as they go on their quest to receive the scriptures that they seek.

However, Xiao Hua (Julie Tan)’s love for Wukong set off a chain of unfortunate events that see his companions perish, and their romance ends with him hating her for what she has done. In order to repent, she spends a thousand years trying to look for Wukong’s reincarnated self, and hopes to earn his forgiveness for the wrong that she committed.

While there’s still a good five months before the series debuts, Toggle got a sneak peek at the actors in character, and also caught up with Elvin and Ian to find out more about their experiences filming in China.

Read on for more.

Elvin Ng’s culture shock filming in China
Elvin Ng’s culture shock filming in China
04 May 2018

Elvin Ng’s culture shock filming in China

When Toggle spoke to Elvin through a phone interview, the actor was understandably excited telling us about his experience, as there has been a gag order on all the actors with regards to the series.

“This actually isn’t the first time that I’ve put on period costume,” he gushed. “I was in Happily Ever After when I first entered the industry, but of course now that I’ve been in the industry for a while, the feeling is different as well.”

Heading over to China also meant that there was a bit of a culture shock when it came to filming, as Elvin shared that the “huge” almost-entirely Chinese production team (save for the director) would always be very respectful towards the actors, but did things a little differently from what we’re used to in Singapore.

“Back home, we’re used to having silence on set. If the cameras are rolling and someone talks here, I might say cut and quiet whoever it is before we resume filming,” he explained. “While we were there, we were told that we would have to dub over whatever we filmed, and that’s because even when the cameras are rolling and we’re acting out our scenes, there’s a lot of ambient noise, and that’s totally normal there, but this was the first time I ever experienced it in my years of acting.”

Chuckling, Elvin added, “For example, the cameraman might be talking to someone or telling someone off while we’re filming, but because there will be dubbing involved, there’s no problem with him doing so. Initially, I got distracted by this but I realised that I had to stay focused. Our level of focus and concentration definitely needs to be higher because we’re used to having quiet sets in Singapore. I can say that I’m less pampered after working in this sort of environment.”

(Continued on next slide: Elvin’s thoughts on working with Ian after four years)

Elvin’s thoughts on working with Ian after four years
Elvin’s thoughts on working with Ian after four years
04 May 2018

Elvin’s thoughts on working with Ian after four years

We also learned an interesting tidbit while chatting with Elvin: he and Ian haven’t worked on a production (save for cameo appearances) for over four years, with their last project together being 2014’s World at Your Feet.

“It was definitely easier for Ian because he’s Chinese, so he managed to adapt quite quickly,” Elvin mused. “He took care of me a lot when we were there. We braved through some tough days together because it was really cold in Ningbo and we had to film our scenes not wearing a lot, and we also had instances where we had to become emotional despite being really cold.”

One of the most memorable scenes in Elvin’s book was one where they had to bid goodbye to Wukong, but the weather that day was not the most conducive for Elvin to turn on the waterworks. “The rain kept starting and stopping and the floor was all muddy and wet. We had to rush while filming despite the rain, and I just had to focus on getting my emotions right,” the 37-year-old shared.

After successfully completing the shoot, Ian remarked that he was “impressed” that Elvin managed to get into the zone despite the bitter cold, and that he had improved markedly since the last time they worked together.

(Continued on next slide: Elvin was told to look “yummy”)

Elvin was told to look “yummy”
Elvin was told to look “yummy”
04 May 2018

Elvin was told to look “yummy”

Revealing that he was approached to take on the role, Elvin admitted that he had his doubts about being able to carry it off in the beginning, as he feels that the current trend for Tang Sanzang is for younger “flower boys” to take on the role.

“They kept telling me that I look very yummy, and they kept using this word, ‘yummy’ on me, which I felt was a bit weird, but that was the kind of image I was supposed to portray,” Elvin grinned. “But I’m very glad that I took on this role, because I’ve never imagined that I would be able to play this character in my life.”

After wrapping his three-week stint in China, Elvin has started filming Channel 5 drama Twenty Days, in which he is brothers with Nat Ho. The series also stars Felicia Chin and Belinda Lee, among others.

“I was originally supposed to be a playboy in the show,” he said. “There were a lot of sex scenes and kissing scenes involved, so I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. I’m a bit conservative, so in the end Nat and I swapped roles and now I’m playing his nerdy brother. Sometimes, when Nat is filming, I poke fun at him because he has to film those steamy scenes!”

(Continued on next slide: Ian Fang’s sacrifices were “worth it”)

Ian Fang’s sacrifices were “worth it”
Ian Fang’s sacrifices were “worth it”
04 May 2018

Ian Fang’s sacrifices were “worth it”

Ian, who spoke to Toggle in a separate phone interview, also gushed about his experience in China, and repeated during the course of the interview that he was really thankful and glad that the producers approached him to take on the role of Zhu Bajie.

“In my previous roles, I was someone’s brother, or someone’s son, but for the first time, my character has his own story arc,” he explained. “In order to give my character a fresh spin, I refrained from watching other actors’ performances of this character, so my portrayal of Zhu Bajie is entirely from my imagination.”

During filming, he had to bare his upper body and roll around in the mud with “seven or eight” pigs – and this was on a rainy day when temperatures hovered around two degrees Celsius.

“I enjoyed the filming, actually,” he chuckled. “The pigs would be making noises and I would follow them. Those pigs were really adorable, and didn’t cause any problems for me. We only spent about half an hour filming that scene.”

That wasn’t the only tough scene that Ian had to shoot. Among the many challenges he had to take on was eating grass and raw vegetables, along with being tied up and slathered with honey, ready to be roasted over a fire.

The latter scene, which was filmed in a cave, took almost an entire day to film, and by the time Ian took out his fake belly, his skin was coated with ash and dirt. Despite all of this, the actor maintained that he “really enjoyed the filming, and it was worth it because I got to try out a lot of new things.”

Click on for more photos!

Ian all bundled up after a scene
Ian all bundled up after a scene
04 May 2018

Ian all bundled up after a scene

L-R: Steven Chiang, Ian Fang, Kingone Wang
L-R: Steven Chiang, Ian Fang, Kingone Wang
04 May 2018

L-R: Steven Chiang, Ian Fang, Kingone Wang

Kingone Wang
Kingone Wang
04 May 2018

Kingone Wang

Steven Chiang, Ian Fang
Steven Chiang, Ian Fang
04 May 2018

Steven Chiang, Ian Fang

Elvin Ng
Elvin Ng
04 May 2018

Elvin Ng


Steven Chiang
Steven Chiang
04 May 2018

Steven Chiang

Ian Fang
Ian Fang
04 May 2018

Ian Fang

Steven Chiang
Steven Chiang
04 May 2018

Steven Chiang

Till We Meet Again debuts on Toggle in October. The modern version will air on Channel 8 in November.

Report a problem