Christopher Lee, Fann Wong rooting for ‘Doppelganger’ kids Xu Bin and Jasmine Sim
The Star Awards 2019 nominees list is in and there’s plenty to celebrate this year. In particular, the Doppelganger family – made up of Christopher Lee, Fann Wong, Xu Bin and Jasmine Sim, have all been nominated in their respective performance categories.
For Fann, this is her first Star Awards nomination in seven years. Her last Best Actress nomination was in 2012 for her role as a gang leader in On The Fringe 2.
The number seven seems to be a lucky one for the reel-life family, as Xu Bin ends his seven-year wait for an acting nomination. He is up against Andie Chen (My Agent is a Hero), Chen Shu Cheng (A Million Dollar Dream), Ian Fang (Till We Meet Again) and Shane Pow (Mind Matters) for Best Supporting Actor.
Speaking to Toggle in a phone interview, Christopher and Fann expressed their delight at the good news – chuckling that they’re more excited to hear about their reel-life kids’ nominations than their own.
“We worked on the same drama and grew closer because most of our scenes were with them,” Christopher explained. “They would ask us questions about acting and we can tell that they’re very hardworking. I would say that they put in 100 per cent in this drama and watching them remind us a lot of when we were younger.”
In particular, the veteran actor commended Xu Bin for his earnest nature and maturity.
“Being nominated is an acknowledgement in itself,” he continued. “I hope that these two young actors will be able to win (at the awards). It’s not that I no longer value awards, but for them, it will be a good milestone. I’ve watched them put in hard work and I hope this can be a form of encouragement for them.”
Fann added that she’s honoured to be nominated as Doppelganger was her first local drama since My Secret App in 2015. “Having come back after a long break and receiving a pat on the back like this feels really good. My husband was wearing red when he told me the good news, so I feel like this is an extra special red packet that I’ve received during Chinese New Year!” she laughed.
As for whether the couple will be able to make it for the Star Awards ceremony, Christopher revealed that he will be filming in Taiwan at the time so he will have to wait and see. Should he be able to attend, the only must-bring on his list is Fann. “My wife is my good luck charm,” he said with a hearty laugh.
Don’t expect to see their adorable toddler, Zed, at the show, as Fann said with a mock sigh, “I can’t bring Zed because I’ll be too busy – he can’t sit still and is always on the move. The only person I’d want to bring is my husband, because I won’t know what to do without him.”
(Continued on next slide: Xu Bin: Aloysius, I’ve caught up with you too)
Xu Bin: Aloysius, I’ve caught up with you too
In a separate phone interview, Xu Bin, who is currently back in China to celebrate Chinese New Year, told Toggle that his seven-year wait for an acting nomination has taught him an invaluable lesson.
“I used to think that I waited for a long time and wondered why I wasn’t improving but I feel that taking things step by step is important. As long as you’re willing to persevere and put in hard work, what’s yours will come to you,” he mused.
Sharing that he thought his performance in Doppelganger was alright, he thanked Christopher for constantly looking out for him.
“When I used a particular method in my acting, he’d explain to me that I wasn’t wrong, but that if I thought about it in another way, I might be able to express myself in a better way. He showed me the possibilities that I could explore, and I learned how to better understand my character more too.”
Chuckling that he doesn’t expect to go home with the trophy this time around, he praised his fellow nominees for their respective performances.
“No words are needed for Shu Cheng da ge. He’s just an amazing artiste that I look up to so much. As for Andie, he’s widely acknowledged for his acting and is an all-rounder. As for Shane and Ian, this isn’t the first time that they’re being nominated, and they’ve been continuously improving. This really makes me want to work harder,” he laughed.
Xu Bin expressed that he isn’t surprised in the least about Chris and Fann’s respective nominations, and mused that their acting chops are “so good, that you can learn a lot from them by just standing there and watching them work their magic”.
Before we ended the interview, the actor told us, “This reminds me of the time when Aloysius [Pang] was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2015. I just want to tell him, ‘Wei Zhong (Aloysius’ Chinese name), I’ve caught up with you’.”
(Continued on next slide: Chen Han Wei receives first Best Programme Host nomination)
Chen Han Wei receives first Best Programme Host nomination
Chen Han Wei is no stranger to the Star Awards, having picked up eight Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor trophies over the years. This time around, however, he’s become a new face in the Best Programme Host category for his work in travelogue Away With My BFF.
“I’m very happy to have been able to travel with my close friends and colleagues. I don’t feel like I was working because we had no script and our EP (executive producer) let us do whatever we wanted to do. Of course, I had to be a bit more lively than usual, but none of the things that happened was planned,” he shared with Toggle.
As a first-time nominee in this category, Han Wei let on that he hasn’t thought much about his winning chances. “In the past, I had the black rose brooch as a ‘lucky charm’ because my stylist quipped that it seems like my chances of winning were higher if I had it. For the past two years, however, I haven’t worn it because I feel that what’s yours will come to you regardless of whether you have a lucky charm. Of course, luck is important, but hard work is more so,” he explained.
“Besides,” he added with a chuckle, “Just hearing the names other nominees* is scary enough.”
*Ed’s note: His fellow nominees are Bryan Wong (Hear Me Out 4), Dennis Chew (Dennis Uncovers), Desmond Ng (Thrift Hunters) and Quan Yi Fong (Fixer 2).
(Continued on next slide: He Ying Ying mistook news of her Best Supporting Actress nom as a dream)
He Ying Ying mistook news of her Best Supporting Actress nom as a dream
Another new face this year is He Ying Ying, who is nominated for her work in A Million Dollar Dream alongside Aileen Tan (You Can Be An Angel 3), Cynthia Koh (Say Cheese), Lin Mei Jiao (Fifty and Fabulous) and Sheila Sim (Eat Already? S4).
She shared with a giggle, “I thought I was dreaming because [my manager] texted me in the morning when I wasn’t awake yet. I had a lot of fun working on this drama and I also learned a lot, so this nomination is the cherry on top for me. Reality hasn’t really set in yet. I still feel like I’m dreaming!”
Although she is thankful for the acknowledgement she’s received for her efforts, Ying Ying mused, “As an actress, it’s not easy for me to be satisfied with my performance. But I’ve seen improvements from my previous works so I’m happy with that.”
“I used to find it difficult to cry on set but this time I managed to do it, and this was also the first time I had to take on a character that goes through an emotional roller-coaster. I managed to do the bare minimum with everyone’s help, (…) Ah Jie (Zoe Tay), Han Wei da ge and (Chen) Shu Cheng da ge in particular gave me a lot of tips on how to breathe life into my characters. This nomination is like my report card, and all three of them are my tutors.”
She concluded that while she thinks her chances of going home triumphant are “very low”, she’s still happy for the pat on the back she’s received. With a smile we could feel even through the phone, she declared, “I’m going to work even harder from now.”