When Singaporean filmmaker Ler Jiyuan was looking for a leading man in his 2018 short film The Drum, he wasn’t sure if Wang Yuqing would fit the bill. Even though they’ve teamed up before — for the first time — on Art of Love, a web series on the now-defunct xinmsn, and as much as he enjoyed that experience, Ler balked at the idea of the ’80s TV heartthrob-turned-insurance agent playing a sexagenarian retiree.

Blame it on Yuqing’s good looks. Even though he was in his late 50s, “he still looked very young,” Ler tells 8days.sg. But Ler’s wife convinced him that Yuqing could be convincingly aged up. He heeded the missus’ advice, cast The Flying Fish star and the rest is history. Since then, the actor and director have collaborated three more times. “I really like his acting,” says Ler. “He’s a bit of a muse to me. He inspires me.” 

And Yuqing loves working with Ler too. “He not only knows his craft, but he’s also a humanistic storyteller,” Yuqing shares with us in Mandarin in a separate phoner. “He demands my performances to be naturalistic; he wants me to surprise him, and not give him something cookie cutter.” He continues, “He would discuss my role in exacting detail. It’s tough in the beginning but slowly, I understand his intentions and every gesture has a meaning.”

The duo's latest tie-up is Invisible Stories, the HBO anthology series about the trials and tribulations of a group of residents in a fictional HDB neighbourhood. In the ‘Chuan’ episode, Yuqing portrays a cab driver by day and a spirit medium (or ‘tangki’) by night, teetering on the brink of a total mental breakdown. Here, he lets us in on a few things from working on the show.