At 51, she is only three years older than Thomas Ong, but Chen Liping plays his, believe it or not, mother-in-law in new Ch 8 drama Mightiest Mother-in-law, which premieres on Apr 18 at 9pm.
While some actresses would balk at the idea, it doesn’t bother Liping one bit.
The actress, who has been in showbiz for three decades, tells us matter-of-factly: “I act as Paige Chua's mum. If her character marries an even older uncle, then I could have an ‘ah pek’ as a son-in-law too. It’s no big deal (laughs).”
“Thomas should be more worried.," she deadpans. "He’s acting as Paige’s husband! Their age gap is quite big!" [Ed: Thomas is 13 years older than Paige.]
It's not the first time she has played the onscreen mother of one of her peers. In The Golden Path (2007), she was mum to Li Nanxing, 52, Chew Chor Meng, 48 and Tay Ping Hui, 46. Ever the professional, she says that she is more concerned about the plot and how audience would react to the drama rather than who her onscreen children are.
Although she plays a feisty mother-in-law in the drama, Liping thinks she wouldn’t be an unreasonable one to her future daughter-in-law in the future. For now.
“My son Xavier is only 14 this year,” she laughs. “It’s a little too early to be thinking about that. But I do think I’m the kind of in-law who wouldn't interfere too much with the next generation’s affairs. I’m not the type who’ll impose upon them or be too controlling.”
How about her relationship with her own mother-in-law then?
Liping, who has been married to fellow Ch 8 actor Rayson Tan for the past 18 years, says she doesn’t have any problems with her mother-in-law as they don’t live together.
“A lot of conflicts arise when the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law live under the same roof and don't get along. So for me, it’s still quite okay,” she says.
But the frank actress admits she isn’t the kind who would go out of her way to please her in-laws. “I’m not someone who goes around making everyone happy," she says. "I don’t do that to my friends or family, and they know that. I guess I’m not that good at public relations (laughs).”
Mightiest Mother-in-law premieres Apr 18, 9pm on Ch 8.
PHOTO: MARK LEE