My relationship with Zhu Houren is a 'trademark', says son Joel Choo

Joel Choo (right) and his father Zhu Houren.
PHOTO: Instagram/joelchoozw

He's tall, young, and hunky, and has been in local showbiz for three years. 

But for now, while the 25-year-old is still finding his footing in the industry, he has been branded as veteran local actor Zhu Houren's son.

Joel Choo recounted amusedly to AsiaOne: "There were a few occasions where people were like, 'Oh you're Zhu Houren's son.' Then they ask for a photo and they say, 'So what's your name?'

"But I'm not offended by it. It just goes to show that people know me."

When asked if he feels like he is living in his father's shadow, Joel replied thoughtfully: "I don't see it as a shadow. It's more like a trademark — a father-son duo, relationship thing.

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父亲节快乐! 🎉

A post shared by Joel Choo (@joelchoozw) on

"I don't think I'll ever be able to break away from this (label) and I'm happy about it. But I want to be known as Joel and as a good actor."

He confessed sheepishly that he still feels "awkward" when meeting fans in public.

"I still don't really know how to react when people notice me in public. It's still kind of weird... people probably know me as the actor's son... I just don't know how to react when I walk on the street and people whisper. I don't know if I should look and smile or I should just walk away," he said. 

However, he's still game for a photo with people who approach him in public, even if they don't know his name.

DRANK MORE THAN 20 CUPS OF BUBBLE TEA IN IPOH

Joel is currently in Titoudao, a Mediacorp English series adapted from acclaimed theatre director Goh Boon Teck’s eponymous play on the life of his mother, tracing the ups and downs in her career as a popular Chinese street opera actress in the 50s and 60s.

He plays her husband in the show, and filmed in Ipoh for around four months. The show also stars Koe Yeet, Fann Wong, Nick Shen, and Andie Chen.

Speaking of his time there, Joel said: "Ipoh is a very beautiful place and to be able to work overseas for a long period of time gave me the opportunity to experience living without my parents and learning how to take care of myself. The show takes place in the 50s to 60s... so to be able to be there helps me build the character as well."

Ipoh may not be a metropolis but there was plenty to do after filming, and it was how Joel got to bond with his fellow cast mates.

"We would go watch movies; if it's in the evening, we would either go for supper, bubble tea, or play claw machines at the arcade. These are our top three activities and we would either do all three in the same night or two out of three," he revealed.

PHOTO: AsiaOne/Bryan Lim

And though Joel is an avid gym-goer, he confessed to consuming "two to three cups of bubble tea a week", which puts him at over 20 cups in four months.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR JOEL?

Joel noted that his biggest challenge in Titoudao was overcoming his lack of life experience to show the change and progress of his character from his 20s to his 40s.

"I don't have that much life experience so I have to observe, and learn and work closely with the director to help make this character look convincing," he added.

His father was also a source of inspiration for Joel to glean insights into the life of someone beyond his years. Not surprising, considering that Joel has grown closer to his dad since he became an actor. In fact, the 65-year-old would watch Joel's shows and offer him pointers.

It's something that Joel welcomes.

"My goal (as an actor) is to continue improving because I know that I am still lacking in many ways. I also want to be more versatile in my acting. When I did Titoudao, I felt that it was quite easy for me to get into character because he's a very introverted character. That was very comfortable for me, but moving on, I wish to challenge different roles... be it action or crime, I want to do everything," he said firmly.

Perhaps one day, he can combine his skills as a singer with his acting chops. Joel is also in an indie rock band called Maxime, which he formed with his classmates from polytechnic. The band has been performing at venues but they are focused on putting out their EP (extended play) now because they've never gone into the studio and recorded their songs.

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Happy Valentines' Day ❤

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Joel explained: "We have these songs for four to five years already... We just want to get it over and done with, and have a physical thing to look at and feel proud of ourselves."

An actor, a musician, and with good looks to boot?

Look out world, this triple threat is coming through.

Titoudao: Inspired By A True Wayang Star premieres Feb 18 at 9.30pm on Channel 5 and will be available for free on Mediacorp meWATCH (formerly known as Toggle).

bryanlim@asiaone.com