When talking about television hunks, local actor Bryan Wong is not exactly the first person that comes to mind.
But that may soon change.
The 44-year-old has been bulking up for his role as Hong Mei Qiang, a dumb and muscular hooligan in upcoming TV drama Hand In Hand.
It also features local actors like Jesseca Liu, Aloysius Pang, Ben Yeo and Zheng Geping.
Wong, whose height is 1.8m, has put on 15kg in just over a month, and now weighs 79.8kg.
His biceps and chest certainly look bigger. The girth of his neck has also expanded by about 5cm.
He told The New Paper while on the set at Jalan Kupang, off Upper East Coast Road, yesterday: "I have been going to the gym for an hour or two every day.
"Everyone who sees me tells me I look huge. On good days, I have four-pack abs."
Wong is working hard on sculpting his body because he will be filming a "bare" scene in July, where he has to run down Shenton Way in a pair of swimming trunks.
"Between now and then, I am working out diligently so that I won't look flabby on screen. I don't want to trip over my own fats when I run," he said with a laugh.
"I don't feel too stressed about it because I've never been seen as a hunk by the audience, so I don't think their expectations of me will be too high."
Other than his regular workout, the veteran actor-host has also been watching his diet, drinking lots of protein shakes and increasing his meat intake.
He said: "I started off with eating 10 eggs for breakfast but I couldn't finish it, so I reduced it to five eggs. I also eat more meat and less rice."
The professional MediaCorp star plans to sunbathe by the pool prior to filming the scene so that he will not appear too pale on screen.
"I also 'groom' every day, there won't be any residual bush down there," said Bryan, to the laughter of everyone present.
Although he is in the best shape of his life, Wong lamented that this is the most challenging role he has had to play.
He has to act crass, stupid and ungraceful - everything he tries not to be in real life.
Wong also has to double up in Hand In Hand, acting as both father and son.
He said: "When I watched the playbacks, I was blushing and cringing because I was thinking, 'This person is just so ill-behaved and stupid. He speaks loudly and has no social graces, he is just freaking ugly'.
"I really let myself go for this role. This is definitely the ugliest I've ever had to be for a character."
Hand In Hand will air on Sept 24 at 9pm on Channel 8.
No more teen rebel roles for Pang
He bagged the coveted Best Newcomer title at the annual Star Awards last month.
But the honour comes with pressure for rising actor Aloysius Pang.
The 24-year-old, who will play a smart but sheltered young adult in the drama Hand In Hand, told The New Paper: "I feel that people expect more from me after I won the award, so I pressure myself to work harder so that I do not disappoint them.
"I don't want to take this award for granted. I worked hard to get to where I am and from now on, I have to work even harder."
It doesn't help that everyone on set calls Pang "Best Newcomer" instead of "Aloysius".
"It serves as a verbal reminder for me. It's all in good fun and it motivates me," said Pang with a smile.
He made his acting debut at the age of nine, took a break when he was 14, made a comeback in 2012 in a local romantic film Timeless Love and has been popular since. But Pang finds he is being typecast, as a rebellious teenager.
He said: "In the past two to three years, I've played almost 10 rebellious roles. I tell myself that maybe I am playing it convincingly, which is why I keep getting the same type of roles.
"Recently, I've been getting roles that are closer to my age, such as the one in Hand In Hand.
"I think when the directors think I am ready, they will give me more mature roles, which allow me to showcase my inner emotions.
"I hope to get Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor next year. It's always an actor's dream to win that every year.
Independent, but still looking for someone to lean on
For her new role, actress Jesseca Liu plays a person with disabilities and wears a prosthetic leg for the first time.
The 36-year-old feels happy taking on this role in Hand In Hand.
"It's a character I have never tried before and it's quite challenging," she said.
To prepare for it, Liu spoke to a doctor who is also physically disabled and wears a prosthetic leg after a car accident. She recalled how the chat with him made her feel inspired, as he continues to live his life to the fullest, even taking up activities such as bungee jumping and scuba diving.
Liu said: "I was amazed at how he is willing to try so many new things and that he didn't see his physical disability as a barrier."
She plays Hong Mei Fang, a woman who puts on a strong front but secretly yearns to have someone to lean on.
In real life, Liu thinks she is somewhat similar.
"I am a very independent woman and I am also one of the pillars of support at home for my mum and my younger sister," she said. "I guess deep inside, I want to have a man to count on."
The actress, who is single, wants to let nature take its course.
She admits that she never makes the first move when it comes to matters of the heart.
Speaking of her ideal partner, she said: "I want someone whom I can turn to for support, both mentally and emotionally."
This article was first published on May 21, 2015.
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