I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu

For that reason alone, the father-of-two says there’s no difference between filming in Singapore and China

I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu
I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu
21 Dec 2017

I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu

2017 has been a busy year for Qi Yuwu. We caught up with the busy bee who stars in upcoming Channel 8 drama, Mind Matters, as a 40-year-old psychiatrist who temporarily loses his sanity, at the press conference for the drama yesterday, where he shared with us more about his recent holiday to Japan with Joanne Peh and their two kids, as well as the struggles of being a working dad. 

Present at the press conference as well were fellow co-stars, Jesseca Liu, Shane Pow, Ben Yeo, Denise Camillia Tan, and Chen Tian Wen, who are all taking on the roles of people struggling with a host of mental illnesses, ranging, from obsessive compulsive disorder, to schizophrenia. The show also stars former Campus Superstar contestant Teresa Tseng as well as Florence Tan, both who were not present at yesterday’s event.

The actors also separately shared the struggles they faced while preparing for their own characters, with Shane, who plays a person suffering from agoraphobia, saying, “When I first started [work for this drama], I was afraid the people who really do have agoraphobia will see my acting and think that I was not portraying it accurately. So, before filming, I prepared a little by watching interviews of people who have agoraphobia, and observed their behaviour, as well as how they described their feelings and reaction when in similar situations.”

Similarly, Yuwu and Jesseca, who are working together with each other again after 14 years, divulged that they had continually discussed and tweaked the script during their scenes, in order to show an accurate portrayal of their characters. 

“When faced with a subject that is more ‘heavy’, it ‘s really hard to make sure that it’s not overwhelmingly ‘heavy’,” Yuwu explained. “It’s actually easier to show the grim nature of such characters, but harder to find the ‘lightness’ in such situations.”

Ben, who plays a character that suffers from panic attacks and, as a result, often stutters, let on that while it is easy to speak with a stutter, theoretically, in real life, it is much harder to make sure that the stutter is “natural, and does not sound forced or fake.”

(Continued on next slide: Yuwu on his busy year, as well as life with his two kids)

I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu
I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu
21 Dec 2017

I still don't see my kids often in Singapore: Qi Yuwu

Once filming for Mind Matters ended in September, Yuwu jetted off to China, where he filmed the Joan Chen-directed movie, English, before proceeding on to Japan, where he worked together with Chinese actor Bao Bei Er and Wen Zhang to film Fat Buddies.

Sounds exhausting? That’s not all. The 41-year-old, who is currently working hard for his latest project, a drama series in China, actually flew back to Singapore just for this press conference. 

However, amidst all his schedules, Yuwu managed to find time for a holiday in Japan with Joanne Peh and their two kids, Baby Qi, 2, and 5-month-old Baby Qi didi.

He revealed with a small laugh during his interview with Toggle, “I always feel like I don’t spend enough time at home. Even when I was filming Mind Matters  in Singapore, there was still not much time for me [to spend with the kids].”

“It feels like there’s not much difference whether I film in Singapore or China. After filming ends for the day [in Singapore], and I head home, they’re already asleep. Then, when I leave the next day, it’s in the early morning, and the kids might not have woken up,” he sighed. “We aren’t seperated in two different countries, but it certainly feels so, because at the end of the day, I still have to resort to video-calling them to see them.”

Now that Yuwu’s back, however, a burden has been lifted off Joanne’s back, with the actress sharing in a recent Instagram update that Sundays have become “so much less stressful for me.”

“She doesn’t have much help on that day, so it’s like a test for her every Sunday. When both parents are around, [Baby Qi] behaves differently too. When I’m at home, she’s more calm and quiet. I think that our presence gives her a sense of security,” the father-of-two shared. 

Though Baby Qi might not be old enough to fully express her feelings and thoughts in words, Yuwu let on that the 2-year-old is able to tell when her father is about to leave, and that she will become “more cool” in both her body language as well as her gaze.

“She tries to hide how she feels sometimes, but you can see her emotions in her eyes,” he said.

The family-of-four also embarked on their first vacation overseas together, visiting Japan, and celebrating Yuwu’s birthday as well.

“It’s really not easy to go on vacation with kids, because you need to follow their pace, but it was really quite ok. They did fuss a little, but it was manageable, and really blissful,” he smiled.

As for the big birthday surprise in Disneyland Tokyo, Yuwu revealed that he was totally in the dark about it, and that he has no idea how Joanne managed to secretly buy a cake and candles without him knowing. 

“I was very touched, I don’t think it was easy for her [to get the cake] because I never saw any shops selling full-sized cakes when we were outside,” Yuwu recalled.

Shane Pow
Shane Pow
21 Dec 2017

Shane Pow

The actor recently signed a full-time contract with Mediacorp, and let us in on his thoughts on the change, saying, “These five years, I’ve been working with Mediacorp more, and it feels almost like a family. It’s not a particularly big decision or anything, it’s just that since my [previous] contract was up, why not try something new?”

He also admitted that his girlfriend, 987FM DJ Kimberly Wang was one of the reasons why he decided to sign with Mediacorp as well.

“If I sign with the company, our passes will be the same, and it’ll be easier for me to go to the radio area to find her,” he laughed, adding that it was just a joke. 

“Honestly, taking into account a lot of different factors, I think that signing with Mediacorp is the best decision,” he said.

Shane and Kimberly also headed to Korea for a 10-day vacation together recently, and he gamely regaled us with tales of his trip there. 

“It was really very cold there. I thought I’ll be fine before I left but when I went, I ended up wearing two layers of heattec, and my normal clothes outside that, and I was still freezing. I didn’t even bring thick pants; I just brought normal clothes because thick clothes are quite heavy. I checked [the weather forecast] beforehand, and that it’ll be fine, because it was around 3 to 0 degrees, and that it’ll just be like opening the freezer,” he sighed, adding that he had thought of purchasing winter wear there, but ultimately decided against it as there would be no use for it back in sunny Singapore.

The couple had also brought along a new camera, borrowed from their friend for the trip, and had a pretty good time taking stunning photos of each other.

However, “there’s a tale of suffering behind every Instagram picture”, according to Shane. 

“The lens of the camera is manual focus, and we had to take off our gloves to adjust the focus. There was once when we went on an outdoor observation deck, when the weather was minus three degrees. It was so cold and my hands were trembling as I tried to adjust the focus. It came to a point where I gave up, ran back inside to the warmth, and then ran out again for the photo,” he laughed.

Jesseca Liu
Jesseca Liu
21 Dec 2017

Jesseca Liu

The actress, whose character suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, stars alongside Qi Yuwu for the most part in the drama.

During our interview with her, Jesseca revealed that the two actors often discussed with the directors and producers beforehand to confirm how the scene will go, and that the duo often drops in little adlibs and extra lines to better suit their characters.

“Sometimes when I see him act out his lines, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s how he’s planning to act this scene out’, “Jesseca shared. “So, I’d think of ways to ‘counter’ him. We wouldn’t tell each other how we’re planning to act a particular scene out, and only reveal it to the other during rehearsals.”

“In fact,”  she continued, “sometimes, the directors and producers will come to me and say, ‘later, when you do this, don’t tell Yuwu beforehand’. Because he always has some unexpected actions or lines that are unscripted, we’d counter back by adding some of our own ‘surprises’ to surprise him as well.”

 

Ben Yeo
Ben Yeo
21 Dec 2017

Ben Yeo

Ben, who recently released his second cookbook filled with 25 recipes by him, and another 25 by Chef Anna Phua, the nutritionist he worked together with for his first book, shared that although the publishers had wanted him to release the second book almost immediately after the first was released due to the good response, he ultimately decided to wait for a bit before doing so.

“I’ve since accumulated a lot more experience [compared to when I released the first book], so I feel that it was the correct decision to wait,” he mused. 

The father-of-two also shared that his two sons, Jarius, 8, and Javier, 5, have very differing personalities when it comes to food.

“The oldest likes sour stuff like tomatoes, lemons and coriander, while the younger is less adventurous and likes to play it safe. However this does not reflect in their actual personalities, in fact it’s reversed. The older child is less willing to take risks and try new things, while the younger is more gungho,” he said, adding that their favourite dishes are his pasta, as well as his ABC soup.

The cast of Mind Matters, excluding Florence Tan and Teresa Tseng, who were not present
The cast of Mind Matters, excluding Florence Tan and Teresa Tseng, who were not present
21 Dec 2017

The cast of Mind Matters, excluding Florence Tan and Teresa Tseng, who were not present

From left to right: Denise Camilla Tan, Shane Pow, Jesseca Liu, Qi Yu Wu, Chen Tian Wen, Ben Yeo

All 20 episodes of Mind Matters will be available to view for free on Toggle from January 1 to 24, 2018. The drama will debut on February 8 2018 at 9pm on Channel 8.

 

Related:
Qi Yuwu: I won’t let Baby Qi be in showbiz
Catching up with TV comeback queen Florence Tan
Denise Camillia Tan: A new face to watch on Channel 8
BEHIND THE ‘GRAM: Qi Yuwu exposes Baby Qi’s quirks

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