Very natural on screen: Rui En praises Tan Chuan-Jin on his cameo in new local drama The Heartland Hero

PHOTO: Instagram/wilderseas29, Mediacorp screengrab

It seems like Hollywood is all about surprise cameos and local showbiz is following suit.

A special guest makes an appearance in the upcoming Channel 8 drama The Heartland Hero; however, this person isn't an actor but a politician.

During a livestream event on Facebook today (Aug 26), a clip of the series was aired for viewers and it featured Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin in a scene where he attends a cafe opening as a guest-of-honour.

Also present in the scene is local actress Rui En.

So when we had a chance to speak with her after the event, we couldn't help but wonder: For someone who isn't professionally trained, how did our beloved Speaker perform?

Seems like it's 10s across the board as Rui En had nothing but praise for him.

"He is a person who is used to being on screen and that shows. He is just very, very natural," the 40-year-old said.

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The veteran actress also shared that she was happy upon receiving the news of his cameo as Tan is her idol.

She said: "He's somebody that I respect a lot, somebody that I like a lot, and somebody that I look up to. I'm not sure how the whole thing (cameo) came about. When we heard that he's going to be guest-starring and do a cameo, I was just really happy."

In The Heartland Hero, Rui En plays Jingwen who used to be known by her nickname Momo. She is a reformed Ah Lian who owns a bakery named Seoul Toast. She runs into her old flame — and reformed Ah Beng — Mao (played by Elvin Ng) when the latter rents half of her shop space.

However, Jingwen is worried about Mao exposing her past because she is now successful in her career and attached to a dentist, Fang Zhongcheng (Desmond Ng).

Not bored of Elvin

The Heartland Hero also sees Rui En and Elvin reuniting onscreen again after their last outing in the drama Mister Flower. The pair have been acting opposite each other in numerous dramas and excited fans have even come up with a 'ship' name — Ruivin.

Though they have co-starred in many projects, Rui En isn't bored of Elvin and said that it's now become a challenge on how to keep things fresh.

"To be honest, I think I've worked with almost every single leading man in Singapore because I've been around for a while. I don't get sian of people but I think it's quite a challenge for us. Because you don't want to be repetitive," she explained.

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"When you're consistently paired with one person, then you kind of need to think, 'How do we do something different?' Or, 'How do we give them a different feeling when they look at us?'"

This role also provided something new for her, especially when she's struggling to keep her past and future separate.

She said: "She's (Jingwen) made mistakes. She's paid the price for them. And then she decided to, you know, start afresh, and make something of her life.

"I think the part that was very enjoyable to act is where she is trying to keep her past and future from colliding... And how she basically just doesn't want her fiance and his family to find out about her past because she is absolutely certain that they wouldn't be able to accept it.

"It was very refreshing to act."

The Heartland Hero premieres Sept 1 at 7.30pm on Channel 8 and it airs every weekday. It is also available on demand for free on meWATCH from Aug 30.

bryanlim@asiaone.com