Photos: Toh Zi Yi
Video: Philip Ang, Aliya Binte Zulkifli
Birthdays are important stuff – after all, they only come once a year. From parties to fancy dinners and cakes, we’ve seen it all. Rui En, however, chose to spend her 38th birthday in a less-than-conventional way: in a Muay Thai gym in Bangkok, Thailand.
Though she may have been dressed in a lavender nurse uniform, with her hair tied up neatly and all made-up when we caught up with her during the imaging session for upcoming long-form drama Old is Gold, the actress is a certified butt-kicker.
“It's probably the most insane and hardcore thing I’ve done in my life,” Rui En grinned. The 38-year-old had spent her birthday week in the birthplace of Muay Thai, where she honed her skills in the sport.
“I trained once a day (for the entire week), it was insane. I trained till I nearly puked, and it was so tough, but I’m so glad that I survived it,” she shared.
Having returned to Singapore with a newfound love for the training regimes in Bangkok, as well as a sense of accomplishment, Rui En shared that she’ll definitely keep up with her training in Singapore.
“This is something that I’ll keep doing, I really fell in love with the training in Bangkok,” she said.
After her break, it seems that the actress is officially back in action, and raring to go. Apart from her involvement in upcoming drama Hello From The Other Side, Rui En will be taking on the role of Han Xin Xin in Channel 8's Old is Gold as well.
A nurse who quit her job after getting bullied by her superior, Han Xin Xin gets offered a new role in a chance meeting, and becomes the head of a nursing home filled with residents with stories of their own. Toggle met up with the actress at the first imaging session for the drama, where we spoke to Rui En.
Paired up with Chen Han Wei again, this time as a married couple, Rui En shared that she was looking forward to the experience. “In my very first Channel 8 drama (No Problem), I acted as his girlfriend. That was when I couldn’t even string together a proper sentence in Chinese. We’ve worked together quite a bit, but it’s all spaced out over the years,” she said.
“It was a memorable pairing, personally, that was one of the highlights of my career,” Rui En said. “Now, she’s 'graduated' and is now my mum, so it’s really going to be interesting to see how our dynamic grows.”
Continued on next page: Rui En shares her thoughts on dating younger men
Apart from working together with familiar faces, one of the many reasons why Rui En decided to take on her first long-form drama, was due to the varied relationships and developments that her character goes through.
“What's interesting (about my relationship with Liping’s character) is that it’s not a typical mother-daughter relationship; there’s a lot of resentment - I’d even say hatred - towards her on my part. The truth is that families aren’t perfect. I would know, that’s my personal experience (as well),” she said, without going into further detail (and we knew better not to pry).
Similarly, the actress is looking forward to tackling the emotions and dilemmas that come with being unable to start a family, as well as a budding May-December relationship with Xu Bin’s character.
“I actually only found out during the cast meeting that I’d have a relationship with Xu Bin. All the while, I thought that I’d be married to Han Wei (for the entire duration of the drama). I didn’t know that we’d get divorced, and that I was going to be with Xu Bin,” Rui En said.
After finding out, however, Rui En broached the idea of making their relationship a May-December relationship, which would be more comfortable and refreshing as well.
“I think it’s something that’s really interesting to explore as a woman. While I’ve never personally (thought of it), the idea of dating a younger guy (is interesting). There’s a lot of insecurity in that (even though) it’s very common now. I don’t think it’s fair that older guys get to date younger girls, but when older girls date a younger guy, they’re labelled a cougar,” she said.
With Old is Gold set for a 150-episode run, viewers will be in for a treat. As this will be Rui En’s first long-form drama, she expressed that she was both excited and apprehensive about it.
“It’s a challenge for me: as long as something is new to me, I see it as a challenge. I see everything as a lesson, so I think I need to learn how to take things easy. I’m used to being really intense for three months at a time, before taking a break and repeating it all over again. So this will be a change of pace for me, more like a marathon (instead of a sprint)."
Old is Gold debuts May 28, 7:30pm on Channel 8.