Setting up an interview with Lawrence Wong takes a very long time. We’ve been trying to interview him even before the Star Awards, but this busy bee was only able to speak to us last week.
To make matters worse, last week’s interview almost didn’t happen after private conversation logs between Ian Fang and Carrie Wong leaked online, and showed the pair throwing shade at Lawrence for replacing Aloysius Pang in the upcoming Channel 8 drama My One In A Million after the latter passed away following a reservist accident.
But that’s all water under the bridge as Carrie and Ian have apologised for their behaviour and lodged police reports.
Even though we are told not to bring up the hot-button issue, there’s still plenty to chat about, as Lawrence, seemingly worn out from a day of filming, fielded our questions about his experience filming My One In A Million, his plans for the rest of the year, and how he’s handling his newfound fame.
“It’s my first lead role in a drama, and things are very different now,” the 30-year-old chuckled as we sat in the filming studio way after office hours. “Not only do I have a lot more scenes, but I also have other job commitments, so I’ve been sleeping around four hours a night on average.”
After spending time in China, he shared, he also had to get used to the local filming culture again.
When filming in the mainland, Lawrence revealed, the only thing actors need to focus on is their acting. “Here, we have to remember what we were wearing and exactly how we wore it, when we switch between scenes within the same episode, so there’s a lot more going on in your mind,” he said. “There, you just need to focus on your lines and acting because everything else is done for you.”
Take their outfits, for example. Before leaving the dressing room, all the actor needs to do is stick his arms out and staff would dress him in the outfit the scene requires.
That’s not to say, however, that Lawrence prefers the way things are done over there. “Of course, we’re a lot more pampered over there,” he said with a sheepish grin. “But one strength that actors who film in Singapore have is that we’re independent. We can do everything on our own, which makes us multi-taskers. But I have to say that having people look after everything else feels nice too.”
Having someone take care of everything else would be a good idea for Lawrence, who has been so busy shuttling between China and Singapore to fulfil job commitments he made before taking on this drama.
“I agreed to taking on this Channel 8 drama at the last minute, and I had to turn down some offers because of this. I’m still filming something else [in China], so I had to fly there when they needed me to retake certain scenes,” the actor explained. Brand commitments have also seen him shuttling from city to city, and after filming wraps this week, he’ll be jetting to Kuala Lumpur for another event before going back to China to start work on his new drama.
This top-secret project, Lawrence sighed, has to be kept under wraps for now, and he’ll only be able to share more details in a month’s time. The only nugget of information that he would give us is that it’s a modern-day drama which will be predominantly filmed in Shanghai. Could it be the Story of Yanxi Palace sequel that everyone’s been buzzing about? “I can only say yes or no in a month’s time,” he reiterated with a chuckle. Well, at least we tried.
While he’s in Singapore, Lawrence is still very much as practical as ever, taking public transport when it’s more convenient. The good thing, according to him, is that people are usually so obsessed with their phones they don’t notice him even when he’s standing next to them on the train.
Of course, he hasn’t been able to go around completely incognito, as he recalled the time when he prepared a feast of local food for Yanxi co-star Wu Jinyan when she was in Singapore.
“I went down to each individual shop to buy the food, and after I posted the photo of us together, I received some comments on my Instagram from the shop owners. One of them said something like, ‘Thank you for buying our food for niang niang (empress)!’”
While the star is open to filming anywhere, one thing Singapore has over other acting offers is that Lawrence likes coming home.
“[When I decide whether to accept an offer] what’s most important to me is if the script excites me, and if it fits into my schedule,” he said. “I won’t focus my career in a specific location - I’ve auditioned for Hollywood movies like Pacific Rim, and I was cast in a Netflix series that I had to reject, so I’m open to offers anywhere.”
“One thing though, I’ve been so busy for the past three months, but I’ve also been so happy,” the actor beamed. “Being able to go back to your own home, raiding your own fridge, using your own shower and most importantly, lying down on your own bed. That’s something that’s irreplaceable, especially when you’re always living in hotels while on the go. It really helps my mental state, and I think that has also helped my performance when I’m on set too.”
My One in a Million debuts in July 2019 on Channel 8.