'Not a simple teenage girl': Ayden Sng plays female ghost in new movie but it's not about acting effeminate

'Not a simple teenage girl': Ayden Sng plays female ghost in new movie but it's not about acting effeminate
Xuan Ong (left) and Ayden Sng in Seven Days.
PHOTO: Golden Village

Actors portray a plethora of characters, some completely unlike their real selves.

But when you see Ayden Sng, standing at 1.83m tall with a lean masculine frame, the last thing you may expect him to play is a female ghost.

In his new movie Seven Days, the 29-year-old plays Aixiang, a man who gets possessed by his deceased older sister Aishi, who died at the age of 14.

"I'm acting as a guy who is possessed by a teenage girl," he told AsiaOne in a recent interview. "But this teenage girl — she's not a simple teenage girl.

"She died when she was 14, but she has been going around the world for about 20 years. So technically, she is a 30-year-old woman who is stuck in a 14-year-old body as a ghost, and she possesses her brother."

When it came to portraying Aishi, Ayden was adamant that he and Xuan Ong — who plays Aishi in her original form — did not want the character to come across as effeminate.

"My performance was modelled after what the sister's personality is like. There was a lot of discussion between me and Xuan, and my interpretation was based on her interpretation of the character.

"The emphasis was not on how effeminate my character's actions were, but how accurate they were."

He hoped that this interpretation would make for a viewing experience that would be "more comfortable" as the last thing Ayden wanted to do was make the character "over-the-top effeminate".

Xuan, 27, echoed Ayden's sentiments.

"One very big thing that we agreed on is — you know, a lot of the time, it's very cringy if you see a male actor trying to portray their version of how women are like," she said to AsiaOne in a separate interview. "It's almost campy, very tacky."

She added that they decided to "move away" from that kind of portrayal, telling Ayden: "Let's not see yourself as playing a female character, let's just see yourself as playing Aishi."


Xuan mentioned that the audience is smart and they would know Aixiang is possessed by Aishi without adding any "unnecessary movements" that would make him a caricature.

Xuan also told us how she and Ayden came up with Aishi's motivations.

"I told Ayden that a character moves from a certain centre," she said. "Some people move from their head, some from their heart, some move from their touch or sense of fear — everyone moves from a different centre."

They decided that Aishi moves from her heart, and every decision they made about portraying the character stemmed from there.

Ayden elaborated: "What this show is about, despite Aishi passing away, is — if I give you seven days to rectify any regrets, any wrong decisions you've made in life up to this point, what would you do with those seven days?"

He discussed a scene where Henry Thia's character — another ghost — asked Aishi why she is spending her "precious seven days" doing something trivial like trying to get Aixiang a girlfriend.

"That's because her brother is important to her," Ayden concluded.

He also wanted the audience to ponder for themselves how they could extend the themes of the show to their own lives.

"When people watch this film, you can digest it on a surface level and that would be a great viewing experience already," he said.

"But if you really do want to go away thinking about what some of the core issues being discussed are, these are some of them — giving yourself a chance to rectify your regrets, and more importantly, what leads to those regrets in the first place?"

If you only had seven days left

When asked what he would do if he had seven days to rectify regrets, Ayden told us that he had a happy upbringing and has not experienced much death in his life, so he did not relate to the movie "on this level".

But he admitted that having regrets was inevitable, and that the consideration was "what you choose to let go of".


Xuan had a very different approach: She would use the seven days to finally tell people her "truest opinions" that she never dared to.

"If I feel really good about someone and I appreciate them, I tell them straight away," she said. "I'm talking about people who have hurt me in the past and I need to get over those hurts.

"Those people don't know what they did to hurt me, and may still continue to do so to other people."

While she currently holds her tongue to avoid "burning those bridges", if she only had seven days left, Xuan would choose to air her opinions.

She would tell people who have hurt her: "You can hate me, but I'm going to die anyway, so you can hate me but stop doing this s***."


Seven Days opens in local cinemas on May 12 and also stars Ya Hui and Peter Yu.

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