Thomas Ong stressed out over first English language role

The ‘KIN’ actor reveals the heart-breaking reason he stopped working on his own scripts

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Photos: Mediacorp Channel 5, Instagram/Thomas Ong

After almost 100 episodes, viewers of Channel 5 long-form drama KIN have finally been introduced to the mysterious Steven Loh, the estranged husband of May Wan (Margaret Lim) who has suddenly returned into her life after his disappearance 15 years ago.

The role of suave and smooth-talking but shady Steven is played by none other than veteran Channel 8 actor Thomas Ong in what marks his very first English-speaking project in over two decades. While he found the new experience “refreshing”, it’s also been giving him no small amount of stress.

One of the biggest challenges stems from having to speak “proper” English instead of Singlish, which the 50-year-old is more used to. For instance, as he shared with us during our interview on Wednesday (Feb 27), he has to remember to place more emphasis on the letter “D” in “good”, and pronounce the word “this” more clearly (instead of saying “dis”).

Language issues aside, Thomas also has to get used to not being as in control as he would be on the set of a Chinese drama. “I usually give suggestions or make small changes to the script, but for KIN, I have to adapt to everything completely,” he explained.

WATCH: Thomas’s character’s real identity was revealed at the end of KIN episode 92


Then there is his need to perfect the performance itself. Instead of making Steven a superficial, one-dimensional not-so-good guy (it’s probably a little too early to use the word “villain”), Thomas is constantly ensuring that he adds depth to his character, while taking care not to go overboard (“I don’t want to over-act, but I don’t want to under-act either”).

He also hinted at some dark developments in the near future for Steven. “He appears to be a loving father, but there are moments when you can sense that something is wrong,” he said. This means that as an actor, Thomas has to strike the right balance between portraying a seemingly wholesome family man and a dubious figure with secrets to be uncovered.

On the bright side, Thomas happily reported that he gets along very well with his co-stars, especially Margaret, Jasmine Sim (who plays Ella), Maxi Lim (Ah Hock), and Timothy Lee (Handsome), whom he has the most scenes with. “I’m not on set very often but I’m glad that we’ve started to build up our chemistry as filming goes along,” he smiled.

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(Left) Thomas Ong on the set of 'KIN' (Right) Thomas Ong and 'KIN' co-star Jasmine Sim

Continued on next page: Why has Thomas Ong stopped working on his own scripts?

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