Before Elvin Ng had beef with fake news, you may remember that back in September 2010, he was engaged in an online feud with Guo Liang.
They were filming 2010 Ch 8 blockbuster Breakout, and controversy, um, broke out when Elvin took to his blog (yup, no IG stories then) to air his grouses about a “huai ren” (Mandarin for ‘bad person’) who told him during the drama’s imaging session that he’s “a lot like his role” in the drama. (FYI: Elvin’s character was autistic.) The actor also cited other instances where the “huai ren” (later revealed to be Guo Liang) had made things difficult for him. “I feel that seniors should behave like seniors. It doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want just ’cos you have talent. If you have talent but no cultivation and integrity, it’s sad,” he wrote. “If you want others to respect you, you have to first respect other people.”
Guo Liang then hit back at the accusations. “Your character in Breakout is also sunny, innocent, naive and intelligent. I said you fit the role. You didn’t only think about the autistic part, right?” he wrote online. The industry veteran also took issue with the name-calling. “In Mandarin, saying ‘I don't like so-and-so’ is fine. But calling someone a ‘huai ren’ is a more serious accusation. Only people who rob and murder and do evil are called huai ren.”
Eight years on, the two will be sparring onscreen in Ch 8 drama Heart to Heart. In the show, Guo Liang’s teahouse towkay struggles to bring his business back to its former glory, while Elvin plays his estranged son. And the bad blood they have for each other? Well, it exists only in the drama now.
8 DAYS: In Heart to Heart, you play a teahouse boss whose efforts to catch up with the times causes his business to falter. Given that you have been in showbiz for 24 years, how have you had to adapt to new industry trends?
GUO LIANG: I find that a lot of people, when they reach a certain age, maybe after 40 or 50, they’ll say things like, “Aiyah, I’m old already, I don’t need to know this.” That shouldn’t be the case. The world is advancing at such a rapid pace. My only way of adapting to these changes is that I cannot be outdated. I must always know what’s happening in this world, including stuff like how to use IG Stories, and how they disappear after 24 hours! (Laughs)
Given your past misunderstanding with Elvin, how do you feel about working with him again?
I don’t have that many feelings about that matter. That’s all in the past. After that incident, there was a period of time when we didn’t meet. But when we met again, it was him who called me “Liang ge” first. From the start to the end, we were never hostile towards each other in person.
Your past conflict with Elvin arose ’cos of what you said to him. Will you be more careful with what you say to him now?
Only then did I know that… I shouldn’t put it this way, if not people might think, “You’re at this age already [and you’re still so petty].” I must admit that everyone’s level of tolerance is different. So if we have a misunderstanding with someone, we shouldn’t always feel like we’ve been wronged and say things like, “Aiyah, that’s not what I meant lah! I was just joking!” Yes, you may have been joking, and you didn’t mean it a certain way, but you should also consider if the other party can take it. Actually, I have forgotten what I said [back then]. (Laughs)
Recently, Elvin had a war of words with a reporter who claimed he was kept in “cold storage” by the company. What’s your take on that saga?
It just goes to show how famous he is. I told my reporter friends, “Why you don’t write about me? I’ve not acted as the lead [in a Ch 8 drama since 2010’s Breakout].” I think that [Elvin] should feel blessed and happy. You see, after I acted in [2017 Ch 8 drama] Life Less Ordinary, there was zero feedback [about my performance in the show]. I felt like such a failure. It didn’t even seem to matter if I was in it or not. I didn’t have many scenes in the show, but it’s still a role, right? (Laughs) So I think [all the publicity Elvin got from the saga was] an advantage. If someone were to voice out on my behalf, saying, “Guo Liang hasn’t acted in a Ch 8 drama for a long time,” I would hope then that the reporters would write about it every day. (Laughs)
Your 19-year-old son Marcus starred in Ch 8 drama While We Are Young. Does he plan to enter showbiz after graduating from Anderson JC?
That’s impossible. At that time, he took on that drama ’cos he was curious [about acting] and wanted to try it out. And coincidentally, that good opportunity came by. But after acting, he realised he didn’t really like it.
Maybe he couldn’t get used to spending so much time for so little output. In this industry, maybe after waiting on set for eight hours, it’s still not your turn yet. Or after shooting a scene for five hours, it’s only shown on TV for just a few seconds. You’ll feel that your efforts are wasted. To me, it’s a good thing [that my son’s not interested in acting]. I feel that it’s too tough to work in this line in Singapore. So if you don’t have passion, you won’t be able to do the job well. That passion may be motivated by money. Let’s say Heart to Heart is an extremely bad drama, but you get $500K to act in it, would you have the passion? Yes! During my younger days, I took on some dubbing jobs in China. I not only dubbed foreign shows — a lot of Chinese TV dramas also have to be dubbed ’cos their actors don’t say their lines well. And our boss asked if anyone was up for working 15 to 18 hours straight, without sleep and to survive only on instant noodles, in return for [a lot of] cash. There wasn’t a single person who said no. Your passion can be driven by monetary gain or zeal for your craft. So I told my son, “If you’re not very passionate about acting, then don’t dip your toe into it.” For what? It doesn’t even pay well. (Laughs)
Click here to find out how Elvin Ng feels about working with Guo Liang again, and why Joanne Peh wants her husband Qi Yuwu to cook topless.
Heart to Heart debuts Dec 24, 9pm, on Ch 8.
PHOTOS: CHEE YAN/CH 8