The good deeds of “childish” Thomas Ong

Elsie Yeh, Hong Ling and Nick Teo gush about the thoughtfulness of their ‘29 February’ co-star

Thomas Ong, Hong Ling, Elsie Yeh, Cheryl Chou, Nick Teo
Thomas Ong, Hong Ling, Elsie Yeh, Cheryl Chou, Nick Teo
21 Aug 2018

Thomas Ong, Hong Ling, Elsie Yeh, Cheryl Chou, Nick Teo

Photos: Tammi Tan

We were barely a minute into our interview with Thomas Ong at the press conference for his upcoming Channel 8 drama 29 February, when he was already fuming at something we said.

Calm down, everybody: the cheeky actor was clearly jesting. What happened was we had simply relayed his co-stars’ description of him – “childish” – to him, causing the 49-year-old to dramatically narrow his eyes in indignation and utter, “Who said that!? No manners” under his breath, before breaking out into a grin to show that he wasn’t actually offended.

And besides, Elsie Yeh, Hong Ling and Nick Teo were clearly using the label with affection instead of complaining about any immature antics. “He and Aloysius [Pang] would frequently team up to do silly things to make us all laugh,” reported Nick, as Hong Ling nodded in agreement beside him. “They tell very, very lame jokes!”

Elsie, on the other hand, got her impression from Thomas’s hobbies and interests. “He listens to songs that young people listen to, and goes to places that young people go to,” said the 48-year-old Taiwanese actress. She also recalled the time he told her he really likes to stay in a certain area in Taiwan. “I was like, ‘Huh? Why? That’s a place for kids!’ (laughs) He also gets along with our younger co-stars very well.”

(Continued on next slide: why Thomas loves to feed his co-stars)

Why Thomas loves to feed his co-stars
Why Thomas loves to feed his co-stars
21 Aug 2018

Why Thomas loves to feed his co-stars

When Thomas wasn’t being a joker, however, he was like a gentleman, dad and guardian angel all rolled into one. For instance, he was always making sure everyone on set was well-fed. According to Nick, he would buy them food and insist they finish it, even when they politely turn him down. “We’re usually full by the time we show up for filming, but he would stand there watching us and waiting for us to eat!” Hong Ling chuckled.

Thomas can explain. “I love to eat and I love to share food with people,” he said. “I also believe in the saying ‘a hungry man is an angry man’. If everyone eats well, everyone is happy, and it makes working together an even more joyful process. In a way, I’m using food as a ‘weapon’. It’s also something I learned from my seniors who love feeding others as well.”

His kindness even extended to them when they weren’t on set. Elsie recalled the time she had unfortunately fallen sick, saying that although she had the day off and he didn’t, he helped her make an appointment with a clinic near her accommodation, and carefully left detailed directions for her on how to get to the correct location.

“He’s the type of person who would quietly look out for you, and as soon as you need help, he’s there for you,” she gushed. “It made me feel very blessed to be so well taken care of by someone.”

All together now, everybody: Awww…

(Continued on next slide: how Thomas and Elsie helped Hong Ling to cry)

How Thomas and Elsie helped Hong Ling to cry
How Thomas and Elsie helped Hong Ling to cry
21 Aug 2018

How Thomas and Elsie helped Hong Ling to cry

Another example of Thomas’s – and also Elsie’s – thoughtfulness was when the veteran thespians went out of their way to help Hong Ling get into character. The 24-year-old said that whenever she had trouble getting her tears flowing for sobbing scenes, her seniors would unleash full-fledged, award-worthy crying performances to get her into the mood – even though they weren’t even the frame. Now that’s what we call professional.

“I would be lying if I said [having to keep crying] wasn’t tiring, but the most important thing is getting a good result – if your co-star does well, you do well,” said Elsie. “Hong Ling is a very obedient, open-minded and talented young person, so whenever we saw that she needed our help, we would do our best to guide and encourage her wherever we could.”

Thomas echoed Elsie’s praise of Hong Ling’s willingness to learn. “If we, the more experienced actors, see our younger co-stars struggling, we should do what we can to help, but of course, we have to take their attitude into consideration too,” he said. “Hong Ling is very open and known for having a good attitude towards her seniors, so of course we were willing to help.”

(Continued on next slide: is this really Thomas’s last drama?)

Is this really Thomas’s last drama?
Is this really Thomas’s last drama?
21 Aug 2018

Is this really Thomas’s last drama?

During our chat with Thomas at the imaging session for 29 February back in April, he had declared his intentions to “take a break” from Channel 8 shows to pursue other interests. While he was tight-lipped about his plans back then, he was much more forthcoming during yesterday’s interview.

“I hope to venture overseas to gain new experiences, and do things I really want to do, such as short films,” he shared. “Hopefully one day, I can even create something of my own. I’ve been learning more about behind-the-scenes production and writing scripts, and I’m also watching a lot of movies [more than I used to] while taking down notes.”

Thomas then revealed that these very recent ambitions were inspired by his onscreen son, Aloysius Pang (who couldn’t make it to the press conference as he’s currently filming a Toggle Original in Mongolia). “He has a lot of ideas and is very diligent in working towards them; I have a lot of ideas, but I’m lazy,” he laughed. “However, I’ve already taken the first step by taking notes from movies and scripts, and perhaps Aloysius and I can work together to create something someday.”

But before all that happens, Thomas will be taking a well-deserved breather to travel, spend time with his family, and focus on his charity work (he funds two schools in Cambodia). And don’t worry, he’s certainly not writing off local TV forever: if the right project comes along, he could be back on the tube sooner than we think.

We’re already looking forward to more stories from his future co-stars about being pampered with food and other good deeds by him.

Taiwanese actress Elsie Yeh
Taiwanese actress Elsie Yeh
21 Aug 2018

Taiwanese actress Elsie Yeh

Hong Ling and Nick Teo are paired up (again) in this drama
Hong Ling and Nick Teo are paired up (again) in this drama
21 Aug 2018

Hong Ling and Nick Teo are paired up (again) in this drama

Thomas Ong and Elsie Yeh
Thomas Ong and Elsie Yeh
21 Aug 2018

Thomas Ong and Elsie Yeh

Hong Ling and Nick share a laugh at the press conference
Hong Ling and Nick share a laugh at the press conference
21 Aug 2018

Hong Ling and Nick share a laugh at the press conference

Elsie and Thomas posing for pictures outdoors
Elsie and Thomas posing for pictures outdoors
21 Aug 2018

Elsie and Thomas posing for pictures outdoors

Thomas and Elsie
Thomas and Elsie
21 Aug 2018

Thomas and Elsie

When Elsie was asked what it was like working with Thomas, he pretended to hold a "gun" to her waist.

29 February premieres September 3, 9pm on Channel 8.

Watch:
Thomas Ong takes good care of his cast members! 

Related:
Thomas Ong wants to stop acting ‘for the time being’
Elsie Yeh is totally cool playing Hong Ling and Aloysius Pang's mum

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