Even before we could set foot into the 11th floor lounge at the Swissotel Merchant Court, we hear peals of laughter coming from within. And it seems like just another day at work for Taiwanese actors Mike He Junxiang and Janine Chang Junning as they demonstrate the sizzling chemistry they have with each other.
We met up with the good-looking duo who were in town recently to promote their latest drama, Sunny Happiness and got caught in the crossfire of their witty banter.
Welcome to Singapore. We hear it’s your first time here Janine?
J: It’s my first time here. Singapore is so clean and modern, with skyscrapers everywhere, not really what I had expected.
Is there anything that you guys would love to do or eat?
J: I would love to try the famous chilli crab!
M: I think I’ve tried it before. But there is so much good food in Singapore, like Hainanese Chicken Rice and Bah Kut Teh, cos it’s slightly different from the Bah Kut Teh in Malaysia.
J: We also tried Ya Kun Kaya Toast today! I love the kaya.
You’re here for you new drama, Sunny Happiness . Can you tell us abit about your characters in the show?
M: I play a rich guy, Xiang Yun Jie, whose failed marriage spurred him to focus all his energy on his family business. He then finds out that he has a 8 year-old son and decides to fight for his custody by creating the illusion of a happy family with the help of Janine’s character.
J: I play Fang Yong Yong, a very optimistic and happy-go-lucky character who never lets anything get her down, not even her background. She works as a maid. She has never been in love and doesn’t realise it when it hits her. Her fake marriage with Yun Jie results in her falling in love with him.
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Since it’s your first time working with each other, how would you rate your chemistry?
M: During the initial stages of filming, there was a bit of awkwardness, but we were all very focused in creating our characters, so it didn’t take very long for sparks to fly. I would have some opinions on how my character would react and she would accept my suggestions, so there was a very good collaborative effort there and it made filming so much easier.
J: It was a very easy and comfortable working relationship. And I feel that the more you get to know someone, the more familiar the working relationship gets.
After getting to know each other, what do you like most about each other?
M: I like her frank and straightforward nature. She tells you like it is. Plus, she’s always very cheerful and outgoing.
J: For me, I appreciate his sense of humour and his sincerity. He is always very genuine to everyone around him.
Janine, can you elaborate more about his sense of humour?
J: He cracks me up all the time. During filming, there was a shower scene where I was supposed to be fantasising about him and it was supposed to be a comical scene, so Mike added in his own bit by mimicking a producer’s voice in a very perverted way and it turned out to be hilarious. Thankfully, we filmed that bit separately or I would just be bowling over with laughter during the entire scene.
So when you’re looking for a partner, will you look for someone like Mike?
M: She will want a commoner instead. (Laughs)
J: He’s too popular! If I say he’s my type, I wouldn’t be able to walk out of this hotel alive.
M: No way, I’m more afraid that some other male star would beat me up. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be able to walk around WanHua district (alluding to the district where movie Monga, starring Ethan Ruan and Mark Chao, was set)
How about you Mike, does she fit the criteria of what you’re looking for in a girlfriend?
M: Well, after interacting and working with her, she is definitely a great girl, and any guy would be lucky to be with her. But for me, it is more about getting to know and understand a person over a long period of time to see if we belong together.
As you’ve said in some interviews, Janine seems to have an “abusive” side to her?
M: (Laughs) It’s especially so during filming, as there are a lot of scenes where my character gets hit by her character. There was one scene where she had to tear the suit I was wearing but she ended up ripping the entire pocket out. She can’t seem to control her own strength!
Janine, have you been secretly working out?
J: No, not really. (Laughs)
M: Yeah, I always tease her about how she should stop working out and building her muscles.
Mike, you play a father in the show. What’s the most difficult part about grasping the emotional aspect of the role?
M: I rely very heavily on the plot and the particular scene. For example, there was a scene where I meet my son for the first time. I imagine what it’s like for a father who has never been in his son’s life, the regret and all the other feelings he will experience. I will immerse myself in the character. It’s slightly different from when I first started acting, I couldn’t really emote without relying on my personal experiences, but now with the script, I can imagine what the character is going through.
Janine, you play a maid in this show. You’re usually very glamorous and stylish, so how hard was it for you to get used to the styling in the show, where you have to dress simply?
J: I don’t find it tough at all because I do like to use different stylings to bring a character to life. It was very fun working with the director to get my image right as he was worried I wouldn’t look like a maid at all. We tried all sorts of ways to make me look like a maid and the process was very fun, before we settled on her entire wardrobe and bangs which made me look more innocent.
How about the role itself, was it difficult to portray?
J: I think the toughest parts were the comedic scenes. Those were the most difficult to execute as your timing had to be perfect, no more, no less. But I love the challenge and had so much fun with those scenes.
You guys starred opposite an 8 year-old child actor Zheng Wei, how different was it working with a kid?
M: I think it’s tricky when you’re acting opposite a kid around the age of 3-4 years old. Zheng Wei is very experienced and professional so it was not difficult at all.
J: He always on top of things and knows exactly what is going on during the scenes.
You’ve also mentioned that he has been in more dramas than both of you combined. So what have you guys learnt from him?
M: To keep working.
J: I’m very impressed with his work ethic. He never complains, and although most kids do at some point, I’ve never seen him say he’s tired or that he doesn’t want to film a certain scene. He’s a top student in his school and he manages to balance both his school work and acting really well.
M: I also remember this one very touching incident that left our assistant director in tears. We were filming a scene where my character celebrates his son’s birthday and Zheng Wei revealed that in real life, he doesn’t know when his birthday is and no one has ever celebrated his birthday before. He has never blown the candles on a birthday cake before that day. To me, that was something I found really sad but touching at the same time.
What do you both hope that the audience will take away from your character in this show?
J: With a different image, I hope they can see a side of me that has never been brought out before, the more cheerful, outgoing nature of my character.
M: I hope that they can see my improvement in terms of handling this character’s emotional turmoil.
Sunny Happiness（幸福最晴天）will air on SingTel mio TV Mei Ah Drama Channel (mio TV Ch 73) from 8 March 2011, 11.30pm.