SINGAPORE - In a way, Constance Song is replacing herself in the new Channel 8 legal drama Sudden.
She was reported to be the one replacing MediaCorp actress Pan Ling Ling, who dropped out of her role as a lawyer due to health problems.
However, at a press event on Monday, Song said she was actually approached by the production team about two months ago.
"They called me to ask me about this role, but I couldn't commit at that point because I was constantly travelling for work," she said.
Song, 36, who works with MediaCorp on a project basis, runs online fashion shop W &i, which imports indie fashion labels from different countries. She also manages a sake dealership.
"I turned down the role because I didn't want to affect the filming schedule." Song said she later heard Cynthia Koh and Pan were considered for it.
About two weeks ago, around the same time when news of Pan's health issues broke, Song was again contacted by the production team.
"They didn't tell me Ling Ling pulled out, but said they were willing to accommodate my schedule," she said.
"By then, I also knew the dates I would be flying, and they were willing to let me go off on those days, so I said 'yes'."
Neither Pan, 42, nor her actor husband Huang Shinan responded to TNP's phone calls.
In an interview with entertainment website xinmsn on May 20, Pan said she underwent an operation "a few weeks ago" to remove cysts in her breast.
Pan said the cysts, which were about the size of a 10-cent coin, posed no health risks, but she decided to remove them for peace of mind.
The same day she was interviewed, Pan tweeted: "Morning, thanks for all the concern, appreciate very much, I am OK now. (sic)" Pan then said she took three months' leave to rest and is expected to return to work in August.
Song said she did not know about Pan's health issues: "She looked fine when I saw her a few weeks ago, just that she looked like she lost some weight."
When asked about her own health, Song said she goes for a detailed medical check-up every year and hasn't experienced any health scares.
"I'm very kiasu," she said, laughing. "Every year I'll go for a full range of tests, from blood tests to tests for female-specific illnesses."
"(Her doctor) told me 'Actually you don't need to do a check-up every year, you can do it once every two years'," she said.
Song also said she puts aside about 20 to 30 per cent of her monthly income to pay for insurance policies.
"I strongly believe in insurance, especially medical insurance," she said.
"Health-care costs are so high in Singapore... I encourage everyone to get some form of medical insurance."
In the meantime, Song will be busy with her role in Sudden. The drama is slated to air in September.
The series also stars Romeo Tan, Rui En, Rebecca Lim and Ian Fang.
It is the second time in her 15-year career she is playing a lawyer, after 1999's From The Courtroom.
"It's so stressful because there's so much dialogue!" she said, laughing.
"As actors, we know it's kind of a bad deal to play a lawyer or doctor... But I felt the role was suitable for me, so I decided to take up the challenge."
Although Song said she has less dialogue this time round, she still feels stressed memorising her lines. "Now that I'm older, my memory is not as good as before!"
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