'At first I was quite stressed': Ann Kok on making showbiz comeback in drama Healing Heroes

Ann Kok is making her drama comeback this National Day in the 130-episode series Healing Heroes after a three-year hiatus.

She plays Sister Ang Sock Hoon, head nurse of the fictional Woon Seng Tong Private Hospital (WSTH) and long-time working partner of Dr Baey Jian Xing (played by Chen Hanwei), director of the outpatient centre.

“At first I was quite stressed because I haven’t been acting,” she told AsiaOne in a recent interview. “But after I started, I felt like everything fell into place very smoothly so I didn’t have to worry so much.”

She shares the screen with Hanwei, whom she acted with in 1995’s Morning Express as his student when she was still a new actress. 

This is Ann's ninth time working with Hanwei; they've also worked in dramas such as Heavenly Ghost Catcher (1995), Daddy at Home (2009) and It Takes 2 (2012).

Even now, Hanwei sometimes helped her out, especially in the beginning when she first returned to acting, she said.

“Although it's a long-form drama  — it's very tiring — I think working with the cast and crew makes me happy,” Ann added.

Over the course of the drama, which will continue production until the end of the year, Ann got to work with a large cast and appreciated everyone’s professionalism. Even when they were not filming their own parts, fellow cast members were always there to assist with others’ scenes.

“When we needed eyelines, they would never be away, they would always be there for you,” Ann said.

From eyelines to eye surgery, Ann gained better appreciation for the medical profession when she shot an eye operation scene with Shaun Chen, who was also in her last drama Hello From The Other Side in 2019.

PHOTO: Mediacorp

“I was assisting Dr Choo (Shaun) with an eye operation. So when I was in there, I was quite amazed by how the operation was done,” she said. “I got to learn what the doctors do. Now we don’t look at the eye during the operation, we look at the monitor. The setting was amazing!”

At 49, Ann’s career has spanned almost three decades and she has fond memories of the TV shows from her youth. She used to love period dramas.

“I liked to watch the characters fight and when they were on wire harnesses flying here and there,” she said. “And I’m glad I had the chance to try it 20 years ago.”

She also remembered watching the drama Army Series, which aired in 1983, as a child, to understand the experiences her three older brothers were going through.

“I was still young and my brothers were in the army, so I just naturally watched the show, since girls don’t have to go to the army,” she said.

PHOTO: Mediacorp

The youngest of six siblings, Ann’s childhood in Toa Payoh was simple.

“I was always playing in the big playground, going for the swings,” she recalled. “And my three brothers would play football in the field, so I would go down and play on my own while watching them or sometimes join in to kick the ball.”

One childhood playground that isn’t around anymore and which she really misses is the iconic water park Big Splash at East Coast Park. 

“I used to go there a lot and I used to be so afraid of playing [the water slides]. But after the first try, I kept doing it non-stop,” she said. “Yeah, it brings back a lot of childhood memories.”

You can catch Healing Heroes, which also features Pierre Png, Paige Chua and Zhang Zetong, on Channel 8 and meWATCH. The drama debuts Aug 9 after the National Day Parade on Channel 8 and will be telecast subsequently at 7.30pm on weekdays. 

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drimac@asiaone.com