'Casting is very evil'

PHOTO: The New Paper

They are husband and wife in real life.

But local actress Hong Huifang, 55, plays local actor Zheng Geping's prospective mother-in-law in their new Channel 8 drama Hand In Hand.

Zheng, 51, portrays loan shark Chen Haonan, who has a May-December romance with lawyer He Xinying (Sora Ma), the daughter of tiger mum He Liyun (Hong).

In one scene, Zheng even has to kiss Ma, 31, on the lips, in front of Hong.

Hand In Hand, which premieres on Sept 25 at 9pm, also stars Bryan Wong, Jesseca Liu, Aloysius Pang and Ben Yeo.

Speaking to The New Paper at the show's press conference yesterday, Zheng, who is known for his "huncle" (hunky uncle) image, said: "When I first knew of the casting decision, I felt that it was very evil and mean.

"In the past, the casting team would avoid husband and wife acting in the same drama. I think such a pairing this time will lead to discussions among the viewers."

The veteran celebrity couple, who have been married for more than two decades, have a daughter, Ying, 19, and a son, Calvert, 15.

Zheng added: "Furthermore, I have to act as Sora's boyfriend. She is so young, she can be my daughter in real life.

"When filming the kissing scene, the crew told Huifang to go home first as her scenes were already filmed, but she stayed back to watch us film."

In a separate interview, Hong said she did not feel awkward or jealous witnessing Zheng getting all lovey-dovey with a much younger woman.

She said matter-of-factly: "I find it quite funny. It's something interesting that viewers haven't seen before.

"We have been acting for so many years now, I don't let such things affect me. If they do, then my acting will be unnatural."

She added: "When I saw them kiss, I didn't feel anything at all. It's not like he is cheating on me in real life."


The couple say that they do not ask each other for permission when accepting roles as they have mutual trust.

Zheng said: "We don't restrict each other when it comes to acting as we know that it's not real and it's part of our job. Anyway, it's not like I am acting in an R-rated drama."

But Ma expressed discomfort at being sandwiched between the couple.

She said: "On the day we were filming the kissing scene, I did not dare look at Huifang in the eye.

"My heart was beating very fast and I held my breath when I kissed (Geping). They seemed very professional on set, but I don't know what happened when they got home."

She added with a laugh: "But his body is really very good. It's very taut, just like a chocolate bar."

This article was first published on September 9, 2015.
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