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Ex-TV star Hong Guorui returns to screen, shares how driving Grab helps in his acting

Ex-TV star Hong Guorui returns to screen, shares how driving Grab helps in his acting
Hong Guorui said that he finds being a Grab driver “quite fun” as he can meet different people.
PHOTO: Internet, Mediacorp

Being a private-hire driver has become a popular way to earn a living in recent years.

But for ex-SBC actor Hong Guorui, being a Grab driver has a secondary purpose — developing his acting skills.

Speaking to AsiaOne in an interview yesterday (Oct 18), the 66-year-old, who is now semi-retired, said that he drives about two to three days per week and for around three to four hours each time.

He shared: "In this line, you see people from all walks of life with different personalities, some of them chatty, some quiet et cetera. I find it quite fun actually because I get to meet different people. One day I may play a character drawing inspiration from my passengers.

"As an actor, experiences and observation skills are very important because everyone is different. Maybe I can take some unique behaviour from a person to apply to the character that I am playing."

Guorui was an actor with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC, now Mediacorp) in the 1980s. He left in 1992 to further his acting career in Malaysia and China. After his management company in Malaysia faced financial issues due to the economic crisis, he returned to Singapore in 1999 and has been a freelance actor since then.

In a previous interview with local media, he said he was only offered bit roles with very few scenes at that time.

He shared that throughout the years he would still receive acting offers in Malaysia and China, but he mostly took up supporting roles in Mediacorp's projects in recent years due to age.


In 2020, he took on a small role in the drama Mind Jumper, playing a retired policeman who joins a private investigating company.

Guorui is also seen in the currently airing drama All That Glitters, where he plays the henpecked uncle of Desmond Tan's character. 

He will be in the new Mediacorp drama Born to Shine, where he plays retiree Woo Guohua, the father of Shangjin (Zhang Yaodong). Shangjin returns to Singapore from Australia with his two children, Jason (Camans Kong) and Jayley (Jenise Tan), after his divorce and stays with Guohua and his wife.

The couple also rent out a room in their home to single mother Qi Keling (Mei Xin), whose daughter Ye Tong is Jayley's classmate. As Shangjin and Keling grow closer, their children oppose their relationship and drift away from them.

'I watched your drama growing up!'

Despite being away from the limelight for several years, Guorui said that some of his passengers still recognise him from time to time, but he is used to it.

"I was even recognised by some Malay and Indian passengers… Some of those who recognised me are quite senior but they would say, 'I watched your drama growing up!'" he said.

Guorui also shared that he has given his passengers free rides on a few occasions.

He said: "I once had a passenger who wanted to pay his fare with coins, so I decided not to collect any fare from him. I told him, 'You can alight, I am not collecting your money'."

He felt that paying with coins could mean that the passenger has financial issues so he told to the latter that he should "just keep it for his next meal".

Guorui also shared that some people have asked if he was certain about being a Grab driver when he had once been the main lead in television dramas, but he felt that it is all a matter of personal preference.

"I feel that as long as I'm happy, then it is good enough," he said.

'At least I got to accompany my children as they grew up'

After returning to Singapore in 1999, Guorui thought about going to China to develop his career, but ultimately decided to stay because his two daughters were still young then.

When asked if he had ever regretted his decision, he said: "No. At least I got to accompany my children as they grew up, which was what I should have done. If I went to China then, I don't think I would have had many opportunities to come back to Singapore to do so.


"So sometimes, you really have to think whether you want to choose your family or career. To be honest, I am not a very active actor who constantly strives for acting opportunities. I would take it if there are opportunities, but I am also okay if there are none."

Guorui also said that he has a tight bond with his two daughters, who are now aged 25 and 27.

He shared: "I am not one who would hit or scold my children, but I'd chat with them instead. We have a very close relationship and they would tell me everything.

"I am not a strict father, I treat them as friends. But as a father, when there is a need to say something to them, I would still do it, but not scold them."

Born to Shine, which also stars Darren Lim, Priscelia Chan, Andie Chen and Mindee Ong, premieres on March 12, 2024 and will be broadcasted on Channel 8 on weekdays at 9pm. It will also be available on demand for free on meWATCH from March 11, 2024 onwards.


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