Koh Jia Ler Goes From Mama's Boy In Ilo Ilo To Loverboy In Wet Season - 8days Skip to main content



Koh Jia Ler Goes From Mama's Boy In Ilo Ilo To Loverboy In Wet Season

The Golden Horse Award-nominated actor takes us through his first love scene.

Koh Jia Ler Goes From Mama's Boy In Ilo Ilo To Loverboy In Wet Season

If it weren’t for Mediacorp, Anthony Chen wouldn’t have discovered Koh Jia Ler…again.

When the London-based Singaporean filmmaker started work on Wet Season, the follow-up to his Cannes-feted debut Ilo Ilo, he wanted to cast a 16-year-old lad. He’d spent a year searching for a suitable candidate, but to no avail.

Then he came across an Instagram snapshot of someone he hasn’t seen for a while — Koh Jia Ler, the same kid he'd worked with on Ilo Ilo. It was a photo of Jia Ler in school uniform from the set of Mediacorp’s long-form drama Life – Fear Not.

Shortly after Jia Ler was cast, Yeo Yann Yann, another Ilo Ilo alum, entered the picture. In Wet Season, Yeo plays Ling, a Chinese language teacher with personal issues at home who has an illicit affair with her student Weilun (Jia Ler).

The film, which opened here last week, also stars Christopher Lee as Ling’s estranged husband and stage veteran Yang Shi Bing as her bed-ridden father-in-law. The film was nominated for six Golden Horse Awards, with Yeo taking home the Best Actress statuette.

If you think Yeo and Jia Ler playing lovers is weird, you aren’t the first to think that. Even the director thought so at first. “But Anthony felt we now look nothing like our characters in Ilo Ilo,” Jia Ler tells 8days.sg.

“I’ve grown up and Yann Yann isn’t pregnant and she wore a wig so that she didn’t look like my mum in Ilo Ilo. That’s why Anthony was okay with it,” says Jia Ler, who whose father runs a transport business and mother is an accountant.

We sit down with Jia Ler, who turned 19 last month (Nov 11, to be exact) at the Golden Village office at Suntec City, and ask him to take us through the most challenging — and easiest — parts of making Wet Season.

Break time: Jia Ler admits to deliberately messing up this scene with Yeo Yann Yann so that he could keep on eating the durians.

Once upon a time: Jia Ler says he still stays in touch with his Ilo Ilo co-star Angeli Bayani on Facebook and Instagram. “I still wish her happy birthday and she still wishes me happy birthday. Our birthdays are in November.”

Star-struck: On his day off, Jia Ler visited Wet Season's Johor set where he met Christopher Lee (seen here with Yeo Yann Yann and You Yi). “He also met Chris in Singapore in the apartment where we shot during rehearsals,” Anthony Chen tells us. “But he wouldn’t dare go into the room whenever Chris was inside. He was too in awe of Chris.” Jia Ler later quips, "I actually wanted to meet Fann Wong!"

Wet Season (M18) is now on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Life - Fear Not is streaming on meWATCH.

Photos: Koh Jia Ler by Aik Chen; Giraffe Pictures



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