Rui En gears up to play a grim reaper in ‘Hello From The Other Side’

Rui En tells Toggle why she can't wait to work with Shaun Chen again and what makes this 'grim reaper' character different from her previous shows

Long time no see, Rui En!
Long time no see, Rui En!
15 Sep 2018

Long time no see, Rui En!

Photos: Joanna Goh, Camelia Ting
Videos: Charlene Chong


Get ready to see Rui En like you’ve never seen her before in her comeback Channel 8 drama series, Hello From The Other Side. The part sci-fi, part fantasy drama which also stars Shaun Chen, Chen Hanwei and Ann Kok, features Rui En as a grim reaper who kicks butt who moonlights as a barista at a café in the underworld.

That explains why we were all gathered at a pantry tucked away in a corner of Mediacorp’s office on a sunny Friday afternoon to watch her and Shaun, her fellow barista and grim reaper in the show, learn the basics of making latte art. Acting is anything but easy, and what most baristas learn to do in four to six years, our two grim reapers had to ‘master’ in two hours. 

It was a struggle for the two actors in the beginning. Some milk was spilt, a few pours resulted in questionable ‘clouds’ and contorted circles that could pass off as pieces of ‘modern art’ (as said by Rui En), but they eventually got the hang of it at the end of the day and managed to create a small heart. We’re told they’d get some help from the professionals on set, so there’s “no pressure” on the actors in pouring rosettes or swans from a milk jug.

Despite the pressure to cram some coffee-making know-how in a span of two hours, it was all fun and laughter at the workshop. Maybe the two actors were buzzing from a caffeine high, or maybe they were just happy to be working together again after their last collaboration in The Journey: Our Homeland

Rui En was chatty and in a jovial mood throughout. The year-long work hiatus has evidently done her plenty of good and she tell us she’s raring to go and ready to hit the ground running again in our first media interview with the actress in almost two years (the last time we spoke to her was in 2017 at an imaging session for Have A Little Faith), 

Read on for more as we catch up with Rui En about her long break and learn how bad she is with anything to do with hands. She also tells us what she hopes viewers can see from her work this time. 

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work


Rui En: I’m the sort that failed home economics classes all the time when I was in school
Rui En: I’m the sort that failed home economics classes all the time when I was in school
15 Sep 2018

Rui En: I’m the sort that failed home economics classes all the time when I was in school

TOGGLE: Long time no see! How does it feel to be back to work?
Rui En: I’ve been getting a lot of questions about that, but it’s like riding a bicycle y’know? You get into the seat and you just pick it up. It’s kind of like muscle memory, but I’m really excited and I really, really miss acting. Acting is my foremost passion in life and I’ve really, really missed that. So I’m really excited and really happy.

Are you all ready to go back to acting? 
I am! I’m ready to go! I’ve lived a ‘tai tai’ life long enough (chuckles) and I’ve been having a really, really nice life – a simple quiet life away from the spotlight. So it’s now time to come back.

Did it finally hit you that you are back at work when you were surrounded by the media just now during your latte art training session?
In terms of the media, not really, I guess. I guess they’ve still been very interested in what I’ve been doing during this time I was away… even when I started Muay Thai classes (laughs). It made the front page! I guess in that sense, regarding the media, it’s just something I’ve come to accept that they are very interested [in me] lah – even if I’m doing nothing. But that’s all good. Even though I was a little surprised by that, I still feel blessed that they haven’t forgotten about me.

I think it’s hard to forget about you.
I hope so! (Laughs) That’s a good thing.

(Continued on next page: Rui En tells us why she 'making' things really isn't her forte)

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En trying her hand at putting together a mochaccino drink
Rui En trying her hand at putting together a mochaccino drink
15 Sep 2018

Rui En trying her hand at putting together a mochaccino drink

So, back to the show, what were some of your challenges in doing latte art?
I’m terrible that has anything to do with hands. I’m the sort that failed home economics classes all the time when I was in school. You should have seen the things that I made! It’s just monstrosities like sewing little dolls and everything. It was just terrible! I already knew that this [latte art] was something that will not be easy for me, but it’s good to learn. We get to learn all these funny, small-small things that we’ll otherwise never get to learn for our roles [and] I treasure the opportunity lah

It does seem like you’re more on-the-ball with action stuff like Muay Thai, which we heard you’ll be doing a little bit in the show. Is it a relief that you have this background in Muay Thai now? It’ll help you with the action scenes.
In this show the action scenes might not be what you traditionally expect. After all, it’s still a sci-fi and fantasy kind of thing. I think that’s really, really liberating because in that sense, we don’t have to follow rules and it gives the directors, EPs, a lot of space. Basically you can make things up, you don’t have to follow the rules of logic. The action scenes are not going to be what you expect, it’s not going to be literally hand-to-hand combat. And I’m going to leave that as a teaser – not going to spoilt it for you guys. 

I guess the Muay Thai training will help somehow. Before this I’ve done other action stuff right? And all of them were basically just to show off the ‘seh’ (attitude); there’s no actual substance. This time learning Muay Thai is a big eye-opener and I realised how lousy I am. Things are not as easy as it looks, I’m still in the beginner stage and I’ve done this for six months. But in general, it’s just something I like to do to let off steam (smiles). 

So you’ve been keeping fit and exercising a lot?
Yeah, I’ve been doing Muay Thai four times a week. (Ed: No aching joints?) When you first start, the way my friend put it was after our first training, the next morning she messaged me and said she felt like she ‘kenna langa by lorry’ (translation: it felt like she got hit by a lorry). Basically that’s how you feel in the beginning, I’ve never tried so hard in my life before. It’s a little better now and the ache is not that bad.

(Continued on next page: Rui En tells us why she's excited to work with Shaun Chen again)

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En and Shaun Chen are paired up again after The Journey: Our Homeland
Rui En and Shaun Chen are paired up again after The Journey: Our Homeland
15 Sep 2018

Rui En and Shaun Chen are paired up again after The Journey: Our Homeland

It’s been a while since you’ve last worked with Shaun (in The Journey: Our Homeland), Chen Han Wei (in The Dream Makers 1) and Ann Kok (Happy family). What do you look forward to working with them?
When I first heard that I’d be working with Shaun, I was so happy. I really like him as a person because he’s a simple person; he’s the easiest person in the world to work with – very professional and he’s just a dream to work with. When I heard it was Shaun I was like thank god! I believe we do have that chemistry so I was really happy. In the last two shows we’ve done together, The Journey and The Dream Makers 1, the relationship and love story we had wasn’t as fleshed out as it will be in this show, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Han Wei and I didn’t share much scenes in The Dream Makers 1 but before that we worked on Be With You – the one where I nearly went mad with all the crying scenes. So I’m looking forward to it, I haven’t worked with him in a long time and I’m sure it’d be fun. In general, I’m just looking forward to working with everyone and doing this interesting genre. It’s very rare for Channel 8 to explore something like that.

We hear that your role has a bit of comedic element in this show too. Would you call her slapstick or goofy?
She does have funny moments, but the way I see her – it’s a role I’ve never done before – she’s very money minded, very materialistic, very bitter about how her grandfather divided his assets. She’s a person who’s a survivor and because she’s a survivor, she’s very quick to react and it may come across as manipulative or as cunning. In that sense, it’s a role I’ve never done before.

The slapstick bit comes in for most situations in her after life. As I’m doing my homework now (‘cos filming starts next week) I’m literally laughing out loud as I read the script, so that’s a good sign. That’s always a good sign. Not all scripts you’d laugh out loud when you read.

Finally, what do you hope viewers can see from your work this time?
I guess, a Rui En that has grown… I hope it’s something the audience will like and I hope I can touch them with my work.

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En, Shaun Chen and their failed attempts
Rui En, Shaun Chen and their failed attempts
15 Sep 2018

Rui En, Shaun Chen and their failed attempts

Shaun shared with Toggle in an interview that although they've yet to discuss how they intend to approach their characters, he's not too worried because they have "good chemistry" and can easily hit it off on set. 

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En and her best shot at making latte art
Rui En and her best shot at making latte art
15 Sep 2018

Rui En and her best shot at making latte art

She's not to worried about not being able to make good latte art because she just needs to get the motions right. "The good thing is the people [their trainers] will be there to help us on set. And they’ll probably find people to do it for us so in that sense, there’s no pressure. Just take it as learning a new skill and it’s not as easy – just like a lot of things in life," said Rui En.

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Shaun Chen's best shot at making latte art
Shaun Chen's best shot at making latte art
15 Sep 2018

Shaun Chen's best shot at making latte art

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En and Shaun Chen seeking tips from their barista teacher
Rui En and Shaun Chen seeking tips from their barista teacher
15 Sep 2018

Rui En and Shaun Chen seeking tips from their barista teacher

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Guess who's the better 'latte artist' between them? (PS: It's not the one in red for sure)
Guess who's the better 'latte artist' between them? (PS: It's not the one in red for sure)
15 Sep 2018

Guess who's the better 'latte artist' between them? (PS: It's not the one in red for sure)

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En, Shaun Chen's characters will help set up a cafe in the drama
Rui En, Shaun Chen's characters will help set up a cafe in the drama
15 Sep 2018

Rui En, Shaun Chen's characters will help set up a cafe in the drama

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En being a good student and watching intently as Shaun attempts making the drink
Rui En being a good student and watching intently as Shaun attempts making the drink
15 Sep 2018

Rui En being a good student and watching intently as Shaun attempts making the drink

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Apart from making latte, they will also try their hand at making good ol' kopi
Apart from making latte, they will also try their hand at making good ol' kopi
15 Sep 2018

Apart from making latte, they will also try their hand at making good ol' kopi

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

Rui En cleans up after herself after accidentally spilling some milk on the floor
Rui En cleans up after herself after accidentally spilling some milk on the floor
15 Sep 2018

Rui En cleans up after herself after accidentally spilling some milk on the floor

WATCH: Rui En is happy to be back at work

WATCH: Rui En & Shaun Chen's messy latte art session

Hello From The Other Side debuts Mar 7, 2019 on Channel 8 at 9pm.

Related:
Rui En spends time with fans before returning to work
Rui En makes Channel 8 comeback as a ‘soul reaper’
I could have been defeated, but I chose to fight: Rui En
Dennis Chew’s very special birthday in New Zealand with Rui En

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