Photos: Toh Zi Yi, Channel 8
Video: Genice Ooi
Oftentimes, filming is a long and drawn-out process, with loads of waiting in between takes as the director films take after take. For the actors, they are mostly stuck in limbo between takes, unable to indulge in big meals or the like, for fear of ruining their character’s clothes or make-up.
So, what do they do during filming breaks?
For the cast of upcoming Channel 8 drama, Have A Little Faith, they indulged in a very unconventional activity to kill time on set – they started conversing in English – and English only.
Local actress Rui En, who plays a swindler who robs from the rich to give to the poor, spearheaded the little game.
Whilst she was absent from the press conference yesterday (she’s said to be on an “extended long break” currently), her co-stars readily shared more information about their “Speak English” movement that originated from their time spent together.
The game first started between Rui En and Zhang Zhen Huan, who plays the actress’ love interest, a fashion designer with a hidden secret in the drama.
“Zhen Huan, you’ve been in Singapore for so long, why don’t you try speaking in English more often,” the actor shared, recounting what Rui En had told him one day.
“I thought she was joking at first, but she really went ahead with it!” he shared with a hint of incredulity in his voice.
Slowly, the game gained traction amongst the cast, with veteran actor Chen Shu Cheng, who plays a miserly fortune-teller and landlord, and the father of Jeffrey Xu’s character, gamely joining in.
Never one to lose out, local entertainer Marcus Chin, who plays Jayley Woo’s father in the show, a twice-married man with a love for gambling, and Jeffrey Xu, who plays an aspiring director, stepped up to the challenge as well.
“Zhen Huan’s intonation is really very ‘Chinese’,” Marcus reveals, adding, “Shu Cheng’s Teochew-style English is very funny as well.”
As for the 63-year-old radio DJ, he was of course, up for the task. “Yes, come on! My English, no limit,” he declared in English during his interview with Toggle.
One by one, Rui En then managed to get everyone, including the crew members, to eventually take part in the game.
Click on to find out how Jeffrey Xu “practised” beforehand for the game.
The cast also sang praises of Rui En’s cheerfulness and vivacity on set, apart from her efforts to engage her co-actors on set.
“It’s our fourth time working together, and our second time acting as a couple. Of course, our chemistry improved and I got to know her more. She gets along well with everyone, but the only [bad] thing is that she still doesn’t get my jokes,” Zhen Huan, who is known for his “cold jokes” expressed in mock dismay.
Similarly, Jayley, who revealed that she was Rui En’s right hand man during her “Speak Good English Movement,” shared that she really enjoyed working alongside the actress.
“Every time I see her name in the rundown, I get very excited to come for filming, because I know that when she’s around, I’ll want to put in 200 percent of my energy into acting. I’ve seen her works before, and I think that she's a very good actress, so I want to show my best side while working together with her,” Jayley laughed.
Finally, Jeffrey also let on that he actually had some “practice” with the game, even before the game had even started, thanks to his girlfriend, local actress Felicia Chin.
“Felicia actually does something similar with me as well, where I’ll have to speak in English for 30 minutes straight. It’s not an everyday thing, [just] whenever she remembers, and if we’re going to be together for majority of the day, she’ll make us converse in English for 30 minutes. For example, when we went to the zoo [recently], she had us speak in English for 30 minutes,” Jeffrey revealed.
The actor shared that as he’d come to Singapore after finishing his studies, his understanding of English is not as good compared to actors like Zhen Huan.
“I can understand it, but some times, it’s just that I don’t know how to express what I want to say in English,” he sighed in mock exasperation.
Fear not, Jeffrey. More practice sessions are coming your way (especially since you’ll be working with Felicia in the upcoming Channel 8 long-form TV series).
Have A Little Faith debuts July 3, 9pm on Channel 8; watch it on Toggle-It-First.