Rebecca Lim isn’t just “too blessed to be stressed” (as she states in the profile of her perpetually positive Instagram page), she’s also blessed to be alive at this very moment, she told us, and after hearing her harrowing tales from the set of her latest projects at yesterday’s press conference for Channel 8’s Blessings 2, we agree.
The local actress, who turns 32 next week, had to film several underwater scenes for the period drama, the sequel to 2014’s Blessings, and no, it was not just about her looking pretty in a pool. For starters, she once had a five-kilogram weight keeping her anchored beneath the surface, causing her to genuinely panic, struggle and have difficulty breathing – just what the scene required.
Since there was no way for Rebecca to communicate her true terror in her submerged state, she thinks the crew assumed she was simply fulfilling her duty as an actress playing a character close to drowning (can’t blame them – all’s going according to the script, right?). It was only when she miraculously made it to dry land, after having calmed down enough to untie the weight from her body, that they realised something was wrong because, as she put it, “My face was completely white.”
And then she had to do it all over again for another take. And another. And another. And no, it does not get easier. We’re sorry we asked.
That was certainly not the last Rebecca saw of this terrifying co-star called H2O. Another “scary” scene had her and Chen Hanwei deliberately diving into the strong currents of a river to make it look like they were being swept away. Besides the fact that there were a lot of boulders to avoid, the two of them were wary of other hidden dangers – living or not – lurking in the darkness. “We really had to trust the team with our lives,” she said.
Fortunately, they both emerged relatively unscathed, save for “lots of bruises” that they would compare the next day (Hanwei would always have the biggest ones, in case you’re wondering). When we asked why they didn’t use any stunt doubles, Rebecca shared that she, too, was “pretty surprised” that she didn’t have one. “The director told me, ‘I think you can do it by yourself’,” she chuckled. “I blame it on my own athletic build giving people a false perception of what I’m capable of. (laughs)”
Well, now that she’s completed filming for her first ever action role in crime series The Bridge, Rebecca doesn’t just look like she can kick butt – she actually can, and already has. Like in Blessings 2, she was on her own without a stunt double, executing 100 percent of the stunts and fight sequences herself. “I was frightened initially but now that the shoot has ended, I’m happy that I decided to go through with it,” she smiled.
To prepare for all her brawling as a no-nonsense detective, Rebecca went through just an hour (seriously) of training before production started. The rest of the time, she had to learn the moves on the spot, watch videos on YouTube, or – as she admitted in an adorably embarrassed way – practise her best kicks and punches in front of the mirror in her hotel room.
By the second day of shooting, she had already amassed “quite a bit of injuries”, thanks to a minute-long fight scene that took 12 hours to film. “It was the final showdown between me and the biggest bad guy, and we fought from the kitchen to the living room and just all over the house,” she explained, adding with a grin, “There was lots of [fake] blood all over us but it was so cool.”
Rebecca also recalled an incident that made it seem like there’s really a guardian angel watching over her. “It was the last day and we had been shooting for almost 24 hours, so I was a bit ‘blur’ and tripped over something while running and landed very hard on my knee,” she said. “According to the cameraman, I came this close [holds out fingers just two inches apart] to hitting the edge of a rusty table.” Yikes. Becks is blessed indeed.
Despite these close calls, it won’t be the last time Rebecca takes on an action-packed project. In fact, she is set to start training for her next gig, a Channel 8 martial arts show with none other than taekwondo black belt-holding “hunkle” Zheng Ge Ping, next week. Yup, more on-screen scuffles, and no stunt doubles (at least for now).
“I had a discussion with Ge Ping and he knows I’m not the fittest girl around, but when I told him that I did all my own stunts for The Bridge, he was like, ‘Oh great! Please stretch your legs, you need to do several splits’. I don’t think he was kidding,” she grimaced. “So on Monday, he will assess my fitness and see where we can go from there. I’m seeing it as a good way to build up my fitness, plus, it’s not bad to have Ge Ping as my personal trainer!”
With “action” now officially ticked off her filmography checklist, we couldn’t help but wonder out loud if a foray into Hollywood is also in the cards – after all, her fellow Channel 5-to-8 crossover success story Pierre Png has done so with Crazy Rich Asians (fun fact: Rebecca went through three rounds of auditions for the role of Pierre’s onscreen wife Astrid, which eventually went to British actress Gemma Chan).
“Definitely, if there is an opportunity; no one will say no, right? (laughs)” However, she clarified that it’s “not a must-do” for her, and that “if it happens, it happens, and it’s great if it does”. In the meantime, she’ll be focusing on building a more solid foundation and reputation here so that when international casting directors come to the little red dot scouting for a Singapore actress, “My name will come to people’s minds. That’s my target.”
Blessings 2 premieres October 1, 9pm on Channel 8. Watch episodes of Blessings on Toggle.