For some folks, homegrown actor Joshua Tan is synonymous with the Jack Neo’s military-set Ah Boys to Men movies — all four of them — where he plays whiner-turned-warrior Ken Chow. For others, the 29-year-old is also known for his role as Marcus Lim on the working mothers-themed drama serial, Lion Mums, where his character romances Vanessa Vanderstraaten's single parent.

lionmums women
Hear them roar: Meet the ladies of Lion Mums' (from left) — Lina Ng, Nurul Aini, Constance Lau, and Vanessa Vanderstraaten. 

In April, you get to see Tan’s evolution as a performer over the years on Ch 5 and Toggle in the first three Ah Boys to Men movies (even though the threequel, Frogmen, is unrelated to Parts I and II, his character name remains the same) — as part of the ‘Lights. Camera. Singapore’ showcase — and on Lion Mums, back for a third season.    

Looking back, Tan says the original 2012 Ah Boys to Men taught him the most about acting. It was after all his first film. “Jack [Neo] really guided us through everything,” Tan tells 8 DAYS over the phone. “To be frank, my Mandarin was really bad when I first started out and a lot of Jack’s directions were in Mandarin and Hokkien, so I really struggled to follow what he wants.”

He adds, “He’d get frustrated at me but I would try to keep up as much as possible and he would accommodate me as much as possible. But you only really learn when you’re thrown into the deep end. We did Parts I and II back to back in 100 days. So coming from zero to having to learn so many things on set was quite a steep learning curve for me.”

So Josh, care to share with us what else you learn about showbiz in the last seven years?

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Catch Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen on Ch 5 tonight (Apr 16) at 10pm, as well as on Toggle. You can also stream Ah Boys to Men 1 & 2 on Toggle. Lion Mums Season 3 premieres Apr 22, Ch 5, 9.30pm.

Photos: Joel Low Photography (Main); Daniel Ooi, Ochre Pictures