Hanli Hoefer is a familiar face on TV — a bubbly, witty, pop culture-savvy MTV VJ who's interviewed countless stars (including, more recently, Foo Fighters). Now, get ready for a never-seen-before Hanli as she morphs into an ass-kicking detective (is there any other kind?) — with all her beauty intact — in the Toggle thriller Intercept.
8 DAYS: On Intercept, you play Ashley Ferroa, a gung-ho cop in hot pursuit of a serial killer who targets A&E-bound folks.
HANLI HOEFER: Ashley, who's very serious and intense, is my first acting role. So I watched a lot of cop shows to get into the zone. I also put myself in her shoes and imagined how she would react to certain situations. Oh right, actually when I was 14 or 15, I played a younger version of Nadya Hutagalung in a local film called The Leap Years. She was a former MTV VJ, so you could say life imitated art (laughs). But no, [I still count Intercept] as my acting debut.
How similar are you to Ashley?
We both [relate to] real people. Ashley banters with her teammates and she really cares about the people she's trying to help. The biggest difference is that Ashley really can’t let something go — she’s obsessive. Not very chill. That’s both her strength and weakness. I wouldn't say I'm an obsessive person. I'm quite a relaxed person generally.
Who are your favourite serial killers?
I am fascinated by serial killers and psychopaths. I recently just binged watched Netflix’s Mindhunter. I think my favourite serial killer is Aileen Wournus. She had a movie made after her, Monster, and was played by Charlize Theron. There aren’t that many female serial killers so I think she is special and stands out to me for being so complex.
On the show, Joshua Tan plays Ashley’s partner. They appear to have trust issues.
I think trust is a big theme in the show. Can you even trust yourself? On Intercept, the lack of trust [is caused by the lack of] communication. Which is vital, right? There’s a good lesson on who to trust, and how to work around that trust.
How would you describe Joshua Tan off-screen?
Joshua is such a sweetheart. He’s a gentleman to work with as well. He knew this was my first acting role, and he was so thorough in helping me. He taught me the film set jargon and reminded me to be consistent in my performance. On top of that, he's a really positive person. He brought a good vibe to the set, which is really important especially for such an intense show.
Did you two hang out?
Well, he left for Korea [after filming wrapped]! (laughs). He was preparing for his live theatre show, Flying Through Time, at Resorts World Sentosa. So yes, he was away, but actually we were planning to meet up and watch Intercept together when it comes out. One funny thing is that I've never seen [his film debut] Ah Boys to Men, but now that I know Joshua, I definitely will.
You had an intense chase scene with Ase Wang. How did the filming go?
That was so hard to film because it had been raining all evening and the ground was so slippery that I was trying not to fall over. I couldn’t even run properly without skidding all over the place. The editing team did a good job hiding that.
What do you remember most from making Intercept?
Working with Gurmit Singh! He made everyone laugh every single minute. Of course, working with Phua Chu Kang himself was already an 'Oh my God' moment for us. His character [as Ashley’s boss] is very serious, but he could turn get out of character (snaps finger) instantly. It was really hilarious.
Ashley is married to a doctor, and we hear you’ve been seeing someone for four years now.
We met through friends. We just hung out and got together. He’s an investment manager. He recently launched his first fund which I’m very proud of because he worked hard for it. He’s a few years older than me, but he’s a total joker at heart. You have to be kind of goofy to be with me.
What do you do for R&R?
I’m honestly such a lazy person. I can binge-watch TV shows the whole day. I’d get my friends to come over and we just slay it. My TV shows of the year would be The Handmaid's Tale and Mindhunter.
Have you seen Alan Wong’s HBO series Sent? Did you all compare notes on acting or give each other advice?
Yes, I did watch it! I loved the whole season. The whole show was excellent. When I was preparing for my audition, Alan helped me out majorly. We sat down at my place and went through the script in great detail. He has always been one of the main people I go to for advice. Plus, Alan is an amazing actor— learning from him is so insightful.
Catch Intercept on Toggle.sg. Flying Through Time is on till Jan 21 at Resorts World Theatre; tix from Sistic.
Catch the first episode of Intercept:
Main photo AIK CHEN