Chen Tian Wen as Brad Pit and Michelle Chong as Lulu
Photos: Tammi Tan
Video: Tay Yixuan
It’s been a long wait, but Lulu The Movie, which took about two years and S$1.5 million to make, will finally hit local cinemas on November 24.
Thanks to a combination of logistical issues and writer-director Michelle Chong’s packed schedule, the film’s release date was pushed back a couple of times, from 2015 to early 2016, and then again to this Thursday.
Fortunately, the ardent support Michelle received from her showbiz friends made things easier, and she was able to get many, many of them to be involved in the flick, whether it was for supporting roles or just brief (but utterly hilarious) cameos.
“They were very supportive, I’m grateful and touched,” said the 39-year-old actress, remaining in character as Lulu, during our interview yesterday. “I’m also not sure why they so readily agreed (to work with me)!”
Veteran actor Chen Tian Wen, who stars as Lulu’s online boyfriend Brad Pit, had an answer to that. “Because you’re too cute!” he chuckled, before continuing on a more serious note, “Michelle is a great, friendly person, plus I wish to work with different people so I can learn new things.”
The collaboration was a smooth-sailing one, with Michelle reporting that although it was the very first time she had worked with the 53-year-old, it felt as though they had done so many times before.
In fact, things went so well that there weren’t even any NGs (no good takes) to speak of (which was also caused by the fact that they were rushing for time). However, they still faced a bit of difficulty because of Michelle needing to shuttle between her roles as leading lady and director.
“Usually, the director is able to observe whether a scene is okay on the spot, which saves a lot of time,” Tian Wen explained. “But for us, because Michelle would ‘disappear’ whenever Lulu was around, we had to rewind what we shot to watch it all over again, which wasted a lot of time.”
Pornsak made a surprise appearance at the press conference as "Ruru"
In Lulu The Movie, our poofy-haired heroine travels to Singapore from China to meet the love of her life Brad Pit, whom she met on social media. To her dismay, she discovers that he has been using his much more handsome brother’s photograph the whole time.
Tian Wen’s onscreen younger twin is portrayed by Leon Jay Williams, whom Michelle has been friends with for over a decade. The Taiwan-based local actor was unable to make it for the press conference as he had an overseas engagement.
“(I cast him) because I was looking for someone that looks like him, and it just so happened that he was coming back to Singapore more often to take care of his daughter, so the timing was perfect,” Michelle shared.
She also revealed that Leon occasionally brought his little girl, Harper Ann, to the set with him, and the almost-two-year-old always behaved herself and never kicked up a fuss. When asked if Tian Wen also brought his son Genghis along, he said he did not. “I’m here to work! (laughs)”
Michelle Chong, Chen Tian Wen, DJ The Flying Dutchman and Pornsak make hearts during Tay Kewei's performance
Besides Tian Wen and Leon, audiences can gear up for quite a fair bit of star-spotting in the picture. While most of them are local or locally-based artistes, there is a special guest appearance by an international celebrity whom we – or any other media – are not allowed to name.
“(The international celebrity) is a friend of one of our investors,” Michelle said with a coy smile. Although it was difficult at first, they managed to secure an hour with the star, and filming went down just like a normal candid interview. “What you see is what you get – there were no second takes, and no acting.”
That is far from the only unscripted scene in the show. Michelle (in full gear as Lulu) and the crew spent a few days shooting in London and Shanghai, where they interviewed random strangers on the street to be part of a fashion reality programme in the movie.
“It was very challenging because they’re not actors and we didn’t make any special arrangements, so we had to prepare for the possibility of not finding anyone to speak to,” Michelle admitted, saying that they approached as many as 200 people.
With Lulu The Movie set to open here on the same day as Disney’s Moana, is Michelle worried about the box office competition?
“There’s nothing much we can do about it,” she shrugged. “Of course a Disney movie will do better than a small local film, but we’ve already done our best, so we just have to wait and see what happens.”
Lulu The Movie opens in cinemas on November 24.
Pornsak as Ruru, Tay Kewei, DJ The Flying Dutchman, Michelle Chong as Lulu, Chen Tian Wen and DJ Glenn Ong at the Lulu The Movie press conference