Rocker in Stone pushes him to try villain role

Bondage, nudity and violence.

These are not the words we typically associate with Stone of Mayday fame.

But in his latest venture into movies, the rocker-turned-actor bravely attempted all of those.

Stone plays a key villain in Ho Wi Ding's latest movie Cities of Last Things, which opened the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) last night (Nov 28) at Capitol Theatre.

Mayday's guitarist was in attendance with the Malaysia-born director, as well as fellow cast members Ding Ning and Huang Lu.

Given his Mr Nice Guy image, it was no wonder Stone was inundated with questions about his evil turn at the press conference, red carpet and screening Q&A.

Stars dazzle on red carpet of Singapore International Film Festival 2018

"I had looked forward to this for really long, maybe because I play rock music, so there's an element of rebelliousness in me," he told AsiaOne.

He revealed that he was offered many good-guy roles in recent years, after starring in 2013's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? and 2015's Zinnia Flower.

But the 42-year-old elaborated after the premiere, "I'm a rocker who makes music, so I don't like to repeat myself.

"This character is very different from me. He's vain, while I only have black clothes. I just have to reach into my wardrobe and I'll be ready to go out."

Stone's character is a corrupt cop who gets involved with the protagonist's wife. The movie is set in three time periods of the man's life, portrayed by actors Jack Kao, Lee Hongchi and Hsieh Changying.

Furthermore, the story is told in reverse, while the movie was shot on expired 35mm film.

From left: Stone, Huang Lu, Ding Ning, director Ho Wi Ding and Singaporean Tan Wei Keong, director of animated short Kingdom.Photo: SGIFF

However, director Ho hopes audiences would not be put off by the unusual style.

"People prefer comedies, but comedies are like desserts. Too much of them and you get fat. My movie is like herbal medicine. Sometimes we need a little bitter in life."

Even the choice of film format was attributed to budget concerns, a prevailing theme at the event touched on by actresses Huang and Ding.

Ho, who also wrote, produced and edited the movie, explained that the lack of funds led to production stretching to two years.

Like Stone, 48-year-old Ding, the Best Supporting Actress at the recent Golden Horse Awards for this role, had her struggles.

Photo: SGIFF

She plays a seasoned criminal in the earliest phase of the protagonist's life.

"I had to be very dark. It wasn't easy because I'm not such a person," said the Taiwanese.

"Because I had stayed in character, my child even screamed in his sleep that I didn't love him anymore!"

True to her words, Ding's vivacious nature was on full display on the red carpet and later on stage, as she amused fans and the audience.

The 29th SGIFF runs until Dec 9 at various locations. Major names expected to attend include actors Sammi Cheng, Joan Chen and Daniel Dae Kim, together with directors Stanley Kwan and Rithy Panh.

Co-produced by mm2, Cities of Last Things (R21) will be released in Singapore on Dec 20.