We may not be clairvoyants, but we did call dibs on Desmond Tan’s Best Actor win before the Star Awards 2018 shindig last night.

After all, what’s a man got to do before he wins a Best Actor gong? For Des, it involves eating raw fish. And no, it’s not the kind of sashimi you get fancily plated at a Japanese restaurant. The 31-year-old scored the accolade for his turn as an army sergeant in NS50-themed drama When Duty Calls who was forced to chow down on raw slimy, scaly fish to survive an overseas jungle mission.

Oh, and he volunteered to do it fo’ real when the script just called for his character to describe the experience. How’s that for method acting?

If the Chinese regard fish as a sign of prosperity, Desmond surely embraces fishes now as a lucky symbol like, er, Chen Hanwei and his black rose brooch at the Star Awards. “For my first outfit [of the night before I won the award], I wore a necklace with a fish charm. That counts, right?” he recounts gleefully.

8 DAYS: Congrats on your Best Actor win! You sure gave it your all for this role.
DESMOND TAN:
I don’t think I can have sashimi again, though I did have a good meal at one of my favourite Japanese restaurants here to celebrate coming back [from Shenzhen, where he had been filming Toggle’s original drama Bluetick]. I am really blessed to be in [When Duty Calls]. I wasn’t expecting much when I first received the script ’cos I thought it’d be just a drama about a uniformed group. But I fell in love with the script, and when I went on set and worked with my co-stars like Pierre [Png] and Felicia [Chin], I felt even happier. They helped me get to where I am right now.

After eating raw fish for a role, how are you going to top that from now on?
I will do anything for my roles. Like what? I don’t know! I was just chatting with some actors in Hongkong and they asked me what kind of roles I’d like to challenge myself with. I told them, "Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club." I’d like to play a transgender. I think this is one of the hardest [characters] that a male actor can take on, to [express] the depression of being a suppressed minority.

What do you think you’ll look like as a woman?
I will be a very manly woman lah (laughs). But I will slim down so I will look more slender!

You’re riding high on your career right now — no pressure, right?
I won’t put myself under too much pressure for next year, ’cos I have no control over whether I get a good role or not (laughs). This year was really a blessing for me.

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