Richie Koh: A face to watch

Slowly but surely, ‘The Distance Between’ lead actor Richie Koh is climbing up the fame ladder

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

Photos: Joanna Goh
Video: Philip Ang, Charlene Chong


If Richie Koh had a report card to rate his performance as one of the lead actors of Toggle Originals The Distance Between, we reckon it might read something like this: Richie is a naturally talented actor and often surprises—in a good way—with his ad-libs and quick-thinking on set.

The 25-year-old, who can be considered a relatively new actor and fresh face in the industry (reminder: he only formally started acting in 2017), has so far nailed role after role and hyped as a rising star with acting chops (so said local director, Jack Neo). It helps that he’s telegenic and looks good from all angles, so the camera loves his face and that’s half the battle won.

Richie’s cheeky and boyish character in The Distance Between is an extension of what he’s really like in real life—minus the Crazy Rich Asian bit. He most certainly looked the part of Amos Song, a role he took to effortlessly like fish to water, with the help of his flamboyant shades and trendy undercut.

Despite his modest acting credentials, The Distance Between is Richie’s second overseas acting project (he did a web-movie called Shanghai Tan Shen Tan in China last year), but there was still plenty of first-time experiences to be had for this rookie actor.

During an interview with Toggle, Richie spoke at lengths about having to dip his toes into a variety of ‘truly Australian’ experiences for this show as his character journeys around Australia in a camper van to complete pre-assigned missions in exchange for an allowance after getting his finances cut off.

(Continued on next page: Richie on his 'coldest' experience on set)

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

“I learned how to hold a live lobster - you cannot use your hand to grab the lobster because its tail can flop upwards as it uses it to swim, and if you do it, you risk having your fingers pinched by it or getting a bone fracture…

“I had to chop wood too. I thought it was child’s play in the beginning, but I only successfully cut my first piece of wood after 7 to 8 takes,” he quipped.

Out of all the activities he tried, one of which was learning how to care for an injured koala they encountered, the most exhilarating experience he had saw him, Chantalle Ng and Shane Pow racing on the sand—on their quad bikes—in Southern Australia. The weather was exceptionally cold that day and Richie had to go quad biking without his jacket as his character had left it behind as part of the story plot.

“We had to do 6 to 8 takes and it was super windy. I only wore two pieces of clothing and I didn’t have my heat tech on. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, plus we were the only ones given the ticket to speed (i.e. the license to speed) on our bikes [for filming purposes].

“I told them it doesn’t matter if I’m feeling cold,” he chuckled. “As long as I look good!”

Said like a true consummate actor.

Richie also spills the beans about his blossoming bromance with Shane and his ‘love-hate’ relationship with Chantalle during their time on the road. Read on for the full interview with Richie!

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

TOGGLE: How has your first impressions of each other changed since you started working on The Distance Between?
RICHIE: For Shane, we worked together in When Duty Calls and this is our last week together in Australia, so we’ve built quite a good rapport with each other. Our relationship has levelled up – I don’t want to reveal too much, but Kimberly (Shane’s girlfriend) don’t think so much (laughs). We had to share rooms at times or share the same house, and that helped to build up our relationship. We spent a fair bit of time chit-chatting and when you start to spend time with each other, you get more comfortable and begin talking crap.

What about Chantalle? What was it like working with her?
In the beginning she’s quite ‘dao’ (aloof) lah. She didn’t want to talk, and maybe because she was trying to get into her character initially so we didn’t talk much, but as time went by, she opened up. She’s someone who’s very different, she’s quiet, has her own ideas but she’s really a glutton. She really loves to eat – and she says so herself… nothing is more important than food to her.


Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

So, who’s the glutton on set?
Chantalle lah. Shane and I are very controlled. The first two weeks when we first arrived, the food was fantastic and the portions are huge. We really enjoyed eating in the beginning but we realised we’ve been filming non stop and have little time to exercise on our off days… and after we shower and look at our bodies, we realise we’ve been putting on weight, so we started to reduce our food intake and cut out carbs like fries, instead we’ll eat more meat.

And you seem to be the life of the set – always cracking jokes with your co-stars and the crew.
We are filming every day and in the morning we’re all a bit tired ‘cos we just woke up, so the atmosphere is somber. I’d crack some jokes to try and get everyone to relax so that we’ll be more energetic when we film. Shane and I might even do some things to get on the nerves of everyone (laughs).

We saw an Instagram story that you posted of you and Shane doing facial masks together too.
We didn’t plan it. We had our dinner and decided to watch the rushes so I thought that there was time to do a mask but it turned out we both had a facial mask on. We didn’t want to say much lest we give people the impression that we wanted to do it together (laughs). Thankfully not very many people were present when we were in the editor's room.

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

So what do you miss the most from home after being on the road for six weeks?
I miss my bed the most… I miss having non-interrupted sleep for more than eight hours. This is our 36th or 37th day on set and we get an average of 6 to 7 or 4 to 5 hours a day, depending on whether we watch the rushes after a day’s shoot, have to wake up early for hair and makeup or end up sleeping late ‘cos of our facial masking routine. The air is too dry for our skin! So when we get on the bus, we’ll conk out.

Amongst the three of you, who do you think is the most homesick?
I think we’re all missing home; I started to get homesick into my second or third week… And we’re always having fish and chips, fried chicken or beef [for meals] and have all started to miss local food…. Shane has been spending more time in his room lately, he’s probably spending more time talking to you-know-who…

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'
17 Oct 2018

Behind the scenes: Richie on the set of 'The Distance Between'

Watch The Distance Between on Toggle.

WATCH: What was Chantalle doing in Richie Koh's room?

Related:
Chantalle Ng tells us why co-star Shane Pow is 'boyfriend material'
First look at ‘The Distance Between’
Chantalle Ng’s mum Lin Meijiao won’t miss her when she’s away?
8 must-try Queensland experiences
5 places to get your breakfast fix in Queensland

Special thanks to Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland.


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