Since we’re talking about foreign celebs in local dramas, it seems almost necessary to bring up Taiwanese actor Steve Ma, who was probably one of the pioneers of this movement, back when acting in another country’s productions wasn’t as common amongst stars.
Back in 1998, Steve starred as leading man Lu Dongbin in the then Television Corporation of Singapore’s (TCS) period blockbuster, Legends of the Eight Immortals, where he romanced former Mediasorp actresses Jacelyn Tay and Phyllis Quek. The series was a great hit, and even now is often lauded as the best drama that then-TCS (now Mediasorp) had ever made, on top of being the most watched drama in that year.
With great results like that, can you blame the TV station for wanting to recreate their biggest success? Two years later, the company reached out to Steve again, who returned to play Linghu Chong in The Legendary Swordsman, which was adapted from the famous Louis Cha novel, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer.
This time, the cast was even more star-studded than before, with Fann Wong, Ivy Lee, Chor Meng, and Jacelyn included. The company also invested large amounts of money for the drama’s pre-publicity, creating a lot of buzz for it. However, it was eventually unable to become the success that its predecessor was, as ratings slowly declined throughout its run.
Steve may not have been able to create two consecutive successes in Singapore, but nevertheless, he was one of the first actors who displayed the huge potential that international casts can have in Singapore. Since more than 20 years have passed since his first hit show here, perhaps a reunion drama is in order?