Zen Chong Says People Still Call Him The Little Nyonya’s Robert Zhang, 15 Years After The Show Aired
Another testament to how unforgettable the 2008 drama is.
It’s hard to forget former actor Zen Chong’s performance as the smarmy Robert Zhang in The Little Nyonya. After all, Robert was the main antagonist in the drama, and was responsible for many of the awful things that happened to the other characters. .
In the latest episode of Mediacorp variety show The Reunion, which brought cast members Jeanette Aw, Joanne Peh, Xiang Yun, Qi Yuwu, as well as former actress Ng Hui and Zen back together, they reminisced about the scenes for which they had to go above and beyond.
Joanne, who played the ill-fated Yu Zhu, spoke about how she had to confront her fear of creepy-crawlies for a scene where she had to eat an insect after being driven insane by Robert.
“My hands are trembling just holding [this box],” Joanne said, after being presented with a clear box containing mealworms, crickets and cockroaches.
She said she was able to overcome her fear thanks to the director, as well as her desire to do a good one-take and get the scene over and done with.
Even Yuwu, who joked that he cringed in disgust just from watching Joanne shoot the scene back then, shared that after he got together with Joanne, he really felt sorry for her when he rewatched the drama.
Joanne also spoke about her character, sharing that she “didn't know she would have such a terrible fate”.
Rewatch the entire series on meWATCH here. The first episode is embedded as well. Our story continues below.
“When they spoke to me about the character, they didn’t go into specifics.I only knew after reading the script to the end. But the director was very clear when communicating, and for scenes where [Robert] was taking off my clothes, and how it was filmed, it was all communicated well,” Joanne said.
“And the most important thing is that [Zen] is a very good person. He might look bad, but he was actually very worried that he might have violated or offended me [during those scenes], so I think that was something that made me feel very assured,” she continued.
For his part, Zen, 44, shared that acting as a villain isn’t all that easy.
He revealed that he continued to display some of Robert Zhang's mannerisms and characteristics even after filming because he had become too immersed in his character.
His efforts paid off and Zen received his first Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Star Awards for the role.
Zen also revealed another lasting effect of playing the dastardly role.
“My other name is Robert Zhang, not Zen Chong,” adding that people still address him by his The Little Nyonya character’s name, some 15 years after the drama’s release.
Now, that’s the mark of an iconic character.
Watch the full video below to see why The Little Nyonya’s scriptwriter Ang Eng Tee decided not to have Qi Yuwu and Jeanette Aw’s characters end up together in the show. You can also catch this reunion episode (and all subsequent ones) here on meWATCH.