Photos: Goh Li Xin, Channel 8, artistes’ social media
Video: Foong Mien Shi, Tan Shi Qi
When your onscreen father-in-law in one drama series gets cast as your love interest in another, it opens up a whole new world of awkwardness.
After appearing together on the 255-part 118, which ended its year-long run in 2015, Chew Chor Meng, 47, and Carrie Wong, 22, will be seen next in Don’t Worry Be Healthy, an eight-episode series presented by the Pioneer Generation Taskforce on the benefits of MediShield Life health insurance.
But filming the half-hour family drama proved difficult for the two actors, not because demanding stunts were involved, but because they had been cast as co-workers with an ambiguous relationship, a world away from their roles in 118 as Zhang Ke’ai and coffee-shop owner Hong Daming.
“The change in roles is hilarious,” Chew Meng said during the press conference for Don’t Worry Be Healthy on January 27. “There are a few scenes in which I have to imagine that (Carrie is) interested in me!”
The actor said those scenes made him uncomfortable and that they even felt incestuous, so he couldn’t bring himself to look Carrie in the eye; instead he stared at her eyebrows or eyelashes throughout filming.
“At first, we were scripted to shoot a kissing scene too,” he said. “But I protested and it got struck out.”
Carrie reacted with shock when she first found out about that scene, and she too requested that it be left out.
The actress saw Chor Meng as a father figure and even addressed him so off-camera. “I couldn’t meet his gaze either, and I would burst out laughing on set,” she said. “To be honest, I couldn’t get into character, so those have been some of the most difficult scenes I’ve filmed since my debut.”
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Filming 118 ended last August 26. The series proved a hit with the masses — it was initially planned for 190 half-hour episodes, but strong demand got it extended for 65 more.
Audience and actors alike found it hard to let go of the show when it ended, and requests for a second season poured in.
At the press conference for the drama series The Dream Job on January 26, Pan Lingling said she had been informed that 118 would be revived.
“I was so happy when I got the news, I kept jumping around!” said the actress, who played Chor Meng’s wife in the longform drama. She added that she immediately called her 118 co-stars Chen Hanwei and Dennis Chew.
Chor Meng said, “Yes, I heard about it. I was 99.9 per cent sure 118 would go on to a second season, but because filming hasn’t actually begun, there’s still a 0.1 per cent uncertainty.”
Carrie said she hadn’t been informed of the news, but she had got wind of it. “I heard the production team are still working out some details, but the second season of 118 has been confirmed, and filming will start in September,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the plot developments!”
And to going back to being Chor Meng’s onscreen daughter-in-law, perhaps.
Don’t Worry Be Healthy debuts February 16, 8 p.m. on Channel 8.
This story first appeared on toggle.sg/ch
Story by Goh Li Xin