SINGAPORE - For his movie debut, local newcomer Jaspers Lai was lucky enough to snag the main villain role of Sam in Jack Neo's two part action-comedy The Lion Men. In the sequel, The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown, which is now showing here, the 27-year-old actor plays the ruthless, scheming leader of lion dance troupe Black Hawk.
He is constantly plotting to bring down rival troupes Storm Riders and Tiger Crane, headed respectively by Tosh Zhang and Wang Weiliang, both of Ah Boys To Men fame.
Lai, who is signed to local director Neo's artiste management company J Team Productions, tells M about his maiden big-screen acting experience.
How was it like working with Neo?
"I really idolise him as I've watched his comedies since young, so it was a magical experience. It is also stressful, because I want to show him that I can do what he asks for. Jack is well known for springing surprises on us and improvising the script spontaneously on set. I've learnt to adapt well and be flexible throughout this process."
How did you land the role in The Lion Men?
"I went for the public auditions last year. It's funny because I went on the day when they were holding auditions for the female roles and I queued up for a while before I realised something was wrong. So I pretended to be a passer-by and asked the person in charge, who told me the auditions for male roles would be held the following week. I went back a week later wearing the exact same clothes, with the exact same hairstyle."
So what's your impression of the Ah Boys To Men cast?
"When I first saw them on-screen in Ah Boys To Men, I aspired to be like them. I feel that they represent the new swag generation, and each of them have their own personality. When I got to know them, I found them to be very down to earth and they don't behave like superstars even though they have many fans. It's very fun hanging out with them and I know I can always count on them."
What's the story behind your weight loss?
"I lost about 9kg in the past two months. I didn't realise I was so chubby until I saw myself on screen.
As an artist, I have to look my best. Hopefully, I can get a role in Jack's new movie Ah Boys To Frogmen. If I am too fat, I won't be able to act in it.
This article was first published on June 18, 2014.
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