When we caught up with Rui En at the imaging session for Channel 8’s Old is Gold back in February, she admitted that she was apprehensive about taking on her very first long-form drama in her 17-year acting career.
Fast forward to today, and she can confirm that her initial concerns have completely dissolved. In fact, the actress has found that doing an eight-month-long project (as opposed to a shorter but more intensive one, like a typical 9pm serial) allows her better work-life balance.
“I’m used to doing a ‘sprint’, which is filming for two to three months and then getting my life back after that, but during that ‘sprint’, everything else stops,” she told us at the press conference for Old is Gold on Tuesday (May 21). “While for this drama, I don’t have to stop everything, and that’s what I’ve come to appreciate.” Although Old is Gold debuts next Tuesday (May 28), filming for the 130-episode drama will go on all the way until the end of the year.
Two things the 38-year-old has been able to do more of, thanks to her more forgiving schedule, are Muay Thai and church. “Isn’t that an interesting combination?” she remarked with a chortle. “In the past, I had absolutely no time [for either of those] - I had to stop Muay Thai for two months while shooting Hello From The Other Side!”
And it was a break she paid for with pain (literally). “After we wrapped Hello, I went back for my regular training and I died. I ached for a week, I am not kidding,” she winced. “Then I went to Bangkok [to train there], and I died again. I nearly puked! But that’s Muay Thai. (Laughs)”
This experience certainly doesn’t seem to have scared her off, as she revealed that she and her gym buddies are already planning a trip to Hua Hin, Thailand sometime this year to hone their skills in the martial art there. But will she be better prepared this time?
“That depends on how often I get to train while filming this drama, but I could go there and be a complete failure and that’s okay,” she smiled.
Exciting getaway to look forward to aside, another thing that’s kept Rui En going despite the occasionally long and tough days are her castmates, most notably Felicia Chin.
“We’re like BFFs now, like oh my gawd,” Rui En chirped, mimicking a typical Valley Girl accent in jest. “We were like the OG Seven Princesses!”
When we exclaim that we haven’t heard the term for the longest time, she responds, “I know right? We’ve been in shows together before, but this is the first time we’ve really connected, and I guess the common point is our faith.
“Before filming began,” she continued. “We decided, okay, this is going to be a long and tough one and it’s going to be tiring, so let’s encourage each other, and that’s what we’ve been doing. Whenever we have a tight schedule, I would whine to her and we would pray and everything would be excellent after that.”
Another important hero in Rui En’s long-form drama-making life is one - or rather, three - that most of us would be familiar with: Deliveroo, GrabFood, and Foodpanda.
“We film here at the Mediacorp studios, and you know that there’s not much to eat around here, right? So I need to order lunch every day, and I couldn’t do without them.” We have to concur. And in case anyone’s wondering, her go-to comfort dish is “this really great” Ipoh hor fun from Yee Cheong Yuen Noodle Restaurant at Holland Village, which she gleefully declared she might order after our interview.
So there you have it: food, spiritual support, and sports - Rui En’s trinity of essentials in her long-form drama survival kit. Now, please excuse us as we order some Ipoh hor fun (don’t tell us you didn’t start craving for that too).
Old is Gold debuts on May 28 and airs weeknights at 7.30pm on Channel 8 and Toggle.