Xu Bin feels stressed about taking on drama role that was written for Aloysius Pang

The late actor finished writing the story before he passed away.

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If you’ve been active on social media recently, you would have seen the NoonTalk Media family hitting the pool more frequently than usual. There’s good reason for it, as they’ve been hard at work filming Victory Lap, a Toggle Original slated to air in July 2020.

Among the familiar faces in the drama are Xu Bin, Zong Zijie, Gavin Teo and Kimberly Chia. Oh, and if that isn’t enough star power, Chinese actor Zheng Kai will be making a special appearance too.

Xu Bin plays Yu Shuai, a swimming instructor with hopes of grooming the next generation of outstanding swimmers.

When Toggle paid a visit to their filming site (at a suite in Marina Bay Sands, no less) earlier this month, we managed to catch up with Xu Bin, who was dressed in the most casual outfit we’ve seen him in - sports shorts, a T-shirt and a windbreaker. “All my outfits in this drama are as ‘sexy’ as this, and my legs are getting quite a bit of air!” he grinned when we asked about his attire. “After all, I have to look the part of a swimming coach, right?”

This isn’t the sexiest he’ll be, as there will be a scene where he steps out of the sauna clad in nothing but a towel. The 30-year-old shrugged that while his body isn’t as good as he would have liked it to be, he plays a swim team instructor so he doesn’t need to have “as amazing a figure as the ones playing swimmers”.

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Left: Xu Bin with Zheng Kai. Right: Glenn Yong , Zong Zijie, Gavin Teo, Earth Pirapat W. (Photos: Xu Bin/Instagram, Earth Pirapat W./Instagram)

Attire aside, we asked Xu Bin if his late friend, fellow actor Aloysius Pang, had talked to him about Victory Lap in the past. Aloysius is credited as the writer and producer of this drama alongside his mentor, Dasmond Koh.

“I knew that he was writing something about this because he had mentioned it briefly to me,” Xu Bin said. “But I didn’t know that he had already finished writing it, so I was surprised too.”

Another thing that Xu Bin didn’t know was that the role of Yu Shuai was initially written for Aloysius, something that caused the actor to turn pensive.

He shared, “I didn’t know about this initially, but this definitely makes me feel more pressured than before. I’ll have to ask myself if this would be the way he would have played the character, or whether this is how this character would have been portrayed in his mind.”

Apart from in reel-life, Xu Bin has also become an instructor of sorts in real life too. As one of the earliest recruits to NoonTalk, he is now senior to a bevy of fresh faces.

“I’ve had one of them tell me that I look very scary when I’m not talking,” he bemoaned. “After checking in the mirror, I realised my resting expression can look a bit intimidating. I’ve since changed it slightly so that the corners of my mouth are slightly turned up and I look less like I’m about to pick a fight with you if you approach me.”

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Photos: Xu Bin/Instagram

Admittedly, Xu Bin hasn’t had much time to impart his showbiz knowledge to the juniors in the company, as he rarely sees them in the office. When time permits, instead of talking to them about acting techniques, he chooses to impart other advice instead.

He revealed, “They’re new to the industry and they sometimes don’t know what to do in certain situations. If they do something that I think shouldn’t be done, I’ll correct them and explain the reason to them, and how they can react better in future.”

Before he was called back to the set, Xu Bin revealed another hilarious nugget of information to us. This topic got him so worked up that a crew member had to come into the interview room to tell us to keep it down.

My son is really…” Xu Bin sighed. “He started talking a while back and his first word was ‘mama’. He says ‘mama’ all the time, and he can say other words, but he just can’t say ‘papa’!”

This is despite his daily efforts to get the 15-month-old to say ‘papa’. When Xu Bin let on that Ethan seems to have trouble pronouncing the letter ‘p’, we suggested alternatives. What about ‘baba’ (an easier version of ‘papa’ to pronounce), ‘dad’, or the very traditional 爹 (pronounced ‘die’, which is a very formal way of saying dad)?

At the last suggestion, Xu Bin shot us an incredulous look before bursting out in laughter. “It’s okay, I think I’ll wait for him to be able to say ‘papa’. I hope he’ll be able to do that by the time I’m back from filming in China.”

Victory Lap debuts on Toggle in July 2020.

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