For some celebs, making a trip to the plastic surgeon’s office is as commonplace as, say, going grocery-shopping. But you’d never catch veteran actor Chen Hanwei going for a quick nip and tuck. Not even botox or fillers, well, at least not anymore. While botox may give some stars a career, um, lift, the thespian tells us that it’s a big no-no for him as the after-effects of the anti-wrinkle drug would affect his performance.
Wait, so how did we come to talking about cosmetic surgery? Okay, let’s backtrack a little, shall we? In upcoming Ch 8 drama A Million Dollar Dream, Hanwei plays a man, who after getting retrenched, strikes a million dollars in the lottery. Although his character keeps his win under wraps, and even controls his spending to make others think he’s poor, we learn that Hanwei is far more generous than his penny-pinching onscreen self.
Another thing we learnt about the 48-year-old: While he concurs that money makes the world go round, there are just some things he won’t do even if you shower him with money. And that includes going under the knife to look, um, a million bucks.
8 DAYS: In A Million Dollar Dream, you strike a million dollars in the lottery. If you had that money, what would you do with it?
CHEN HANWEI: I’d donate part of it to charity, and give part of it to my family. Then, I’d save the remaining sum and go travelling overseas.
Which charity cause is closest to your heart?
Normally, the people that I feel like helping most are the elderly and orphans. I’ve been donating to the Community Chest for many years now. Sometimes, when I see an elderly person by the road, be it overseas or in Singapore, I’d take pity on them and give them some money. Once in Hongkong, I saw an old woman picking up trash from the streets. She looked very pitiful. So I gave her S$200 and said to her in Cantonese, “This is for you to buy food.” She looked shocked, then thanked me. Another time, when I was in Thailand, I saw an old lady by the road eating from a packet of food. I gave her a few thousand baht, or about S$300. When she looked at me with gratitude in her eyes, I felt very warm inside and [I knew] that I didn’t help the wrong person.
On the flipside, what wouldn’t you do for a million dollars?
Go for plastic surgery. If I were to go under the knife, I wouldn’t know how to face my friends and family even if I become very good-looking.
Why are you so against plastic surgery? A lot of stars do it, anyway.
Firstly, I’m not very good-looking but I’m not ugly either. Also, if I were to alter my appearance, how would my friends and family react to my new look? Unless I’m going to a place where no one knows who I am. Otherwise, it’s very weird to change my appearance. I think it’s very fake. I can’t bring myself to do it.
What about non-invasive cosmetic procedures like botox?
That’s still all right. When I was in my thirties, I did botox twice or thrice. My wrinkles were all gone. But I didn’t like it. It affected my performance. I couldn’t frown or smile! My smile was stiff. As a professional actor, it’s very hard to act if you can’t even do the most basic expressions, like frowning. So after that, I never did botox again.
Ever had a windfall?
Many years ago, I the first prize in 4D. I only won $5,000. But it was the first time I won such a huge sum of money. I used to buy 4D occasionally. But I stopped buying after not striking many times. I realised that usually, if you buy small, you will strike. But when you buy big, you won’t strike. So I don’t like to gamble.
A Million Dollar Dream airs on Ch 8 in April 2018.
PHOTOS: EALBERT HO