SINGAPORE - The truth behind actress Jesseca Liu's smoking-hot looks in the new Channel U series Marry Me is not so pretty.
"I was very cold and frequently felt weak on set, possibly due to the weight loss," she says.
The 34-year-old, who is 1.72m tall, usually maintains a 50kg figure during filming. She was 54kg when she started work on Marry Me as man-eating matchmaker Rainbow Ang.
For her new role, she made a dazzling transformation to play Rainbow Ang, a smouldering seductress who owns a match-making agency.
It's her first sexy role. As Rainbow, she has to teach her single girlfriends how to channel their sexuality to score with men.
The Singapore-based Langkawi-born actress, known for her girl-next-door roles, is currently relishing her newfound sex kitten image. To look perfect in a bikini on the show, the 1.74m-tall actress lost 7kg to weigh 47kg.
A smaller chest
The downside to weight loss, however, was a smaller chest.
Liu, who is a B cup, revealed that there was "lots of padding" in her bikini top and bras so that she could be a more ample C cup.
Liu, 34, told The New Paper: "I wanted this role because I was so happy that I could finally break out of the sweetie-pie stereotype. "I like being called sexy, but to be honest, the producers of the show were a little concerned at first that I wouldn't be able to pull it off.
"But after filming, they realised that there's a really sexy side to me after all.
"People tell me that the impression I give them is that I'm very 'niang' (Mandarin for girly), so I see this as a breakthrough."
Apart from Liu, the series also features local actors Yvonne Lim, Koh Yah Hwee, Thomas Ong and Pierre Png.
Bikini scene spurred her to lose weight
Bikini scene spurred her to lose weight
Ong and Png play a plastic surgeon and taxi driver, respectively, and are rivals for Rainbow’s affections.
There is a kissing scene with one of them, but Liu declined to reveal which one.
The two scenes which caused Liu discomfort were those that required her to don revealing attire. Due to the large number of people on the set, most of whom were men, she couldn't help but feel eyes on her when she stripped down.
In one scene, which takes place in a hotel, Liu has to shake her booty while working a cleavage-spilling dress.
She said, with a laugh: "In the scene, a teenage girl wants a showdown with me so I wear my figure-hugging 'bandage dress' to show her who's boss.
"The dress was so tight that I felt that even a sip of water would make me burst out of it.
"What's worse than stripping, however, is having to dance. Although I took lessons, it still didn't come easy to me.
A scene which required her to wear a bikini prompted her to lose the extra weight.
"That scene was shot about two or three days into filming and I was hesitant to do it because I wasn't so confident of my body then."
So she asked for more time to get in shape before filming the scene.
How she achieved a flatter tummy
Quest for a f lat tummy
"I lost about 7kg in about 11/2 months for the role. I had to keep to a strict diet. I ate less and didn't eat after 7pm.
"I drank fruit juice in the morning, ate fish soup for lunch and didn't eat starchy foods," she recalls.
It was a tough diet to follow, she confesses, revealing that she often felt hungry. The result: a bikini- ready bod for the show, which revolves around three single women and their romantic lives.
In the other "stripping" scene which was shot at the beach, Liu said that as she wanted to look flawless in a bikini, she had requested that the producers give her time to lose weight.
So the scene was only shot six weeks after filming began and being 7kg lighter made all the difference.
In the scene, Rainbow teaches her girlfriends that the way to attract men on the beach is to play volleyball in a bikini.
Said Liu: "It was very difficult for me (to get into shape) as I could only have a little bit of rice for my one meal a day, which I had with fish soup.
"But during the filming at the beach, I found that it was all worth it.
"Every angle they shot me ... I felt comfortable. I was confident that my body looked good."
The price she had to pay for her cellulite-free body was having to give up her favourite "oily foods".
Crayfish hor fun, curry rice and nasi lemak, which she used to have on a regular basis, became distant memories during the three months of filming.
She also traded chocolates for plenty of salad to ensure that she had a flat tummy.
Usually known for playing innocent, girl-next- door characters such as Ruan Mianmian in 2005's Portrait Of Home and the kind-hearted Zhao Xintong in last year's Game Plan, Liu took a big, bold step in slipping under the skin of the sultry siren Rainbow - even if wearing a bikini on screen is not new for her, having done so in the 2004 drama The Champion.
But as every actress is aware, it's not all rainbows and flowers when it comes to an image change.
The soft-spoken babe has, however, taken into account that there could those who will criticise her acting or image in her new show. She said that she would take it in her stride and treat the criticism as a learning experience.
Some people closer to her welcomed the change while others had their doubts.
"My mum didn't watch the show, but she saw some of the stills from the drama and felt that it was quite refreshing to see me like that. Some of my fans haven't been so accepting, they feel like I've gone too far this time and advise me to take care of my image."
Professionally speaking, she does not shy away from roles which are beyond what is commonly expected of her. In fact, she embraces them.
"I like to play roles that are very different from myself and Rainbow is the kind of girl that I have hardly even met."
The leggy actress concedes that Rainbow is too aggressive for her to truly identify with and actually finds more common ground with Liu Xixi, co-star Yvonne Lim's character in the drama, who loses her boyfriend of two decades when she neglects romance for work.
Says Liu, who is currently single and manages a few spas in Langkawi with her family alongside her acting career:
"Perhaps I'm not completely like Xixi because she is so perfect in so many ways, but we are alike in the sense that my first priority is work as well."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.
Get The New Paper for more stories.