What do you do when you land your first movie role after nine years in showbiz? You prepare like mad, of course. And for Desmond Tan, who will play a funeral director in local film in A Simple Wedding, it means getting to know his co-star and onscreen girlfriend better. The 30-year-old took Taiwanese actress Amber An, who plays a free-spirited personal trainer and diving instructor who’s marrying him, on a series of pseudo-dates before filming for the $1.5 mil movie kicked off here. Let’s just say these won’t be going into any Dating 101 handbooks anytime soon (not that Des’ real girlfriend would mind, we think).
Desmond, who admits that he didn’t know much about his co-star Amber prior to this, spent a week hanging out with her before they began filming. And, no, no typical tourist traps like the zoo on the itinerary, okay? “I came up with a list of activities which includes an embarrassing night out to Henderson Waves, and yes, a trip to the gym. It’s more genuine, right?” he muses.
8 DAYS: Congrats on snagging your first big screen role.
DESMOND TAN: Thanks! I’m very lucky as I didn’t have to audition for it. The director [Lee Thean-Jeen, who also directed light-hearted CNY flick, Homecoming] met up with me and told me he was interested in casting me as the lead. I’m really honoured and delighted but also a little stressed yet excited as this is my first movie. I love watching films, so being able to be part of one is very surreal for me. I’m not that nervous though, as I have 10 years of TV acting experience and I think I can handle the role well. I heard that the movie might be distributed in China and Taiwan too, and I hope to get the chance to go overseas to promote my work.
How did you prepare for your role as a funeral director?
I read up and watched some documentaries on such businesses. I also watched some YouTube videos to understand the work that funeral directors do. I think it’s really interesting because funeral directors have different perspectives on life and death as they face it every day. It’s a different role compared to those I played before.
How is it working with Amber?
We were unfamiliar with each other, so I Googled her and checked out her Instagram before meeting her. The production team arranged for us to hang out for a week before filming began so that we could bond. We went to Universal Studios on one of the days and it was quite fun. I also thought it would be a good idea to take her to Henderson Waves for a walk at night.
Henderson Waves for a night walk — hmm, what would your girlfriend say. How did it turn out?
It was a disaster ’cos I didn’t know how to get there! (Laughs) I drove to Hort Park and found out that we had to walk 7km to get to Henderson Waves, so I drove to Henderson Heights instead, but realised that I didn’t know where to park. In the end, we aborted the idea. Instead, I took her to Mount Faber thinking that it’d be nice for her to see the city at night from the top of the hill, but when we got up, there wasn’t much to see ’cos of all the overgrown trees. It was really embarrassing!
How did you make up for it?
I took her to Fullerton Hotel for a rooftop dinner the following night, and I think that went well. It was a good comeback (laughs).
You took her to your gym on one of the days. That doesn’t sound like the perfect place to hang out with a girl.
(Guffaws) Both of us were dieting and working out a lot so that we’d look good on screen, so I thought it would be nice to go exercise together at the gym I frequent. It made sense as we could both get our workouts in for the day, and get to know each other better!
You’ve shown Amber where not to go for a great view of Singapore. What else have you taught her in her time here?
We’ve only been filming for about five days now, and I’ve been trying to teach Amber how to speak Singlish. I was telling her the meanings of ‘lah’, ‘leh’, ‘lor’ and ‘hor’, but she’s been using it wrongly (laughs). I guess it’s not that easy for a foreigner to tell the difference!
A Simple Wedding opens in the first quarter of 2018.