James Seah, 31, Says He Did Not Know How To Talk To Girls When He Was Younger ‘Cos He Was Too Shy
James, who got married in January and who is the star of new Mediacorp drama The Unbreakable Bond, talks to 8days.sg about health, kids and what he used to do when he and his friends fell for the same girl.
In new Mediacorp drama The Unbreakable Bond, James Seah, 31, stars as Gu Yun Ze, the sickly heir of a wealthy family. His life is saved after receiving an organ and bone marrow transplant from his stepbrother, played by Ayden Sng. .
However, their relationship changes after they fall for the same girl (Chantalle Ng), and at the same time, stumble upon some — gasp! — family secrets.
It's a pretty dark premise, at least for a Mediacorp drama, with James going on to liken his character to Truman from Jim Carrey's dark comedy The Truman Show.
"He does not know the ways of the world," says James when 8days.sg met him for a chat after the drama's press conference. "All he knows is from the internet, books, his brother, so he is on his own wavelength and in his own world."
If you have never met James before and is judging him from a purely physical perspective, you would probably describe him as pensive.
You wouldn't be too off the mark.
Sure he's friendly and speaks in a calm, thoughtful manner. However, he can also come across as reserved, especially when we venture a question about his family.
Since his character in the show shares such a close bond with his brother, we wonder if he has any siblings — that info is not available online — and if he is close to any of them.
He pauses before lowering his voice to say softly, "I have two sisters but my family background is complicated so I don’t wish to speak too much about it lah."
8 DAYS: Since geting married in January, how many times have you been asked about when you're having kids?
JAMES SEAH: Not a lot, only during Chinese New Year. But for me, to have kids, it’s like if it happens, it happens lah, I’m not really planning on anything yet, so let nature take its course.
So are you okay with not having kids?
Well, I have a dog now, so that’s like having a kid. He’s very cute now. He’s six months old so he’s at a very manja stage where he would always come to find us. He needs a lot of attention but he’s very cute so I love it. (chuckles)
Do you even like kids?
I like them sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. I like to play with kids, but when they [get into] trouble, nah, I let their parents settle it. I think it’s different if [they’re] your own kids, there’s a responsibility there. But since I don’t have my own kid yet, the responsibility is not mine right, so it depends on how the parents want to bring up their kids.
(Ponders the question) I think we respect each other for who we are and will not ask each other to change. But in a way I would say my tardiness? Not only to her but to work as well. In this line [of work], it takes a lot of discipline, be it waking up earlier in the morning or at night. The amount of the self-discipline you have, it needs to be there. I think it applies to everything in life, not just for my wife.
So now you’re punctual for everything?
Yah lah, punctuality I think is very important 'cos it’s an impression you set upon people, on what kind of person you are.
Have your ever had a disagreement with your wife, or anyone else, because you were too stuck in your ways?
Wow, let me recall… (pauses to think) So far, I’ve not experienced something like that, but I can understand the feeling [of being too stuck in one’s ways].
Growing up, I feel like I was somebody who was quite bad at taking remarks from people. When people tell me that I should do this or that, I would feel like, 'Am I wrong? What did I do wrong? I don’t think I’m wrong?' That kind of thing.
But slowly over time, I learnt to see things from different perspectives. Your own perspective doesn’t mean that it’s the right one, somebody might see things from a different angle, and there might be a better way to deal with that situation. I guess that’s where growth comes in and learning how to be more accepting of other’s remarks and criticisms. Now I’m definitely more open [to taking criticisms].
Have you ever fancied the same girl as one of your pals?
For sure (nods). When we were in school, that definitely happened. At that time, I hung out with a group of guys, and guys normally, they would like girls in the club or whatever, that kinda thing. But for me I am not somebody who would take the initiative to chase after somebody. I’m more laid back and cool. So, if I know that my friends like somebody too then I would step back lah.
How different is that from your character in the show?
We're quite similar. This character was always kept at home so he hasn't had a friend who is a girl before. He has no experience in making new friends, so he’s quite socially awkward and has no EQ.
The similarity between me and him is that he does not know how to talk to a girl. In the show when he approaches Chantalle’s character, he does it in a very blunt manner. It’s quite cute but it ends up offending her.
For me, I [used to be] very shy, and I didn’t know how to approach girls and talk to them.
You play someone who is very sick in the show, are you very paranoid when it comes to health?
(Pauses) Actually I used to fall sick very easily.
When you were younger?
Yes, and when I just entered the industry too. I would catch a cold or the flu quite easily. [If] somebody besides me coughs or sneezes, I would fall sick within the next few days.
Through that I realised that nutrition is very important and that’s where I started to really take care of myself by taking multivitamins and balancing my diet. Do I fall sick easily now? I think I’m okay but I don’t want to jinx it (he taps the wooden chair that he's sitting on). My manager would have problem like “Fall sick ah?? Take mc??” That kind of thing (laughs).
That’s where the self-discipline comes in. We have to take care of ourselves to make sure we’re in tip top shape every day 'cos people see you for who you are on screen. You're representing yourself, and your work. Your condition is very important and it’s something only you can control and manage. Nobody can take that away from you.
If you were in another job, would you pay as much attention to your health?
Hmm (chuckles), very good question… depends on what I do.
If you weren’t an actor today, what would you be?
I guess I would be doing production work and still be in the media... but behind the camera. I studied animation and photography, so I guess if I was not an actor I would something along those lines?
Would I take care of my body? Health-wise I would not want to make things difficult for my family members, I would take care of my health but to be fit, fit, maybe not? (Laughs)
Have you ever lost anyone close from sickness before?
My grandma. (Lowers his voice) She died from cancer. It’s not easy to go through that journey. It was very sad and I hope that nobody ever has to experience that.
Photos: Mediacorp/ Photo Unit, James Seah/ Instagram
The Unbreakable Bond is available on demand for free on meWATCH from May 16. It premieres May 16, weekdays, 9pm on Ch 8.
Catch the behind-the-scenes special for The Unbreakable Bond below before it airs.