Jeremy Chan sang in pubs for seven years and quit three years ago to focus on acting.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Some know Jeremy Chan as a comedian, host and, sometimes, Mr Jesseca Liu. But he wants to make a name for himself as a serious actor.
"Previously, I thought I could do only comic roles. But with my role in the drama, My Teacher Is A Thug, I have more confidence to challenge myself with various roles," says Chan, 36. "I want to film more dramas in future."
He has been in the news mostly for his romance with Channel 8 leading lady Liu, whom he wed in a beach wedding in Langkawi in July.
In the Channel 8 drama, My Teacher Is a Thug, he takes on a supporting role as a handyman hopelessly devoted to his good friend, played by actress Bonnie Loo.
"This is the first time I'm taking on such a meaty role. The level of happiness I've experienced is proportionate to the amount of stress," says Chan, who entered show business after taking part in televised singing contest Project Superstar in 2006.
It is also his first screen kiss.
He says: "The characters I took on in the past didn't even have any scenes in which they held hands with another person. This time, I not only got involved in a romance, but I also had to kiss Bonnie.
"On our first take, the director said we were like dead fish kissing. I was the one who was nervous; Bonnie told me not to be scared."
His wife Liu, 38, has no issues with her man kissing another woman, he says, because it is just acting. "I told her about the kiss before the scene. So did Bonnie. And Jesseca was fine with it. We are actors and we know it is part of the job," he says.
He has had bit parts in dramas over the years, but it was only in recent years that he was given more screentime.
What many TV viewers do not know is that Chan was singing gigs in pubs for seven years. He quit singing three years ago to focus on acting.
"When I saw how focused Jesseca was, I started to wonder whether I lacked focus. I made a living out of singing and hosting, but I wasn't getting anywhere. After I stopped singing, I had more energy on set and was focused. My acting improved."
This year, he played a conman who later repented in the 118 sequel. He will also be tackling the role of an "Ah Beng" property agent with heart in an upcoming Toggle series, My Agent Is A Hero.
1. You are a television personality. Were you not afraid of being recognised by people when you sang at pubs?
I was making a decent living. I did not steal or rob anyone. Singing is my passion. The audience enjoyed my singing.
Some of my regulars would check my schedule and turn up when I was singing. I didn't earn a lot, but I was happy.
2. Is there any chance you and your wife will act in the same drama in future?
Sure, why not? I've never rejected any role. Jesseca says if there is a chance, why not, you can see different sparks. It will be amazing. I will look forward to such an opportunity.
3. When news of your romance first surfaced, there were a lot of naysayers. How did you deal with the negative comments?
Even though I may appear to be a funny person, I'm quite sensitive.
An online comment said Jesseca was a fresh flower stuck on a heap of cow dung, referring to me. It was then that I realised we had a big gap between us. It was upsetting, but I had to be positive and work harder.
Maybe the netizen was having a bad day. I don't blame him. I took it in my stride. When we got married, we received plenty of blessings.
4. How did you know Liu was interested in you?
When you talk to a girl and she doesn't act like she wants to end the conversation, I thought her impression of me must be not bad.
She enjoys my jokes. When we had a group dinner gathering, we could continue our conversation even after everyone left.
5. How is married life?
It is not much different from when we were dating. Only, now that she sleeps next to me, I can wish her good night in person. Before, I had to do it via video call.
Life has also become more convenient. Because we live together, I no longer need to check her fridge to see whether she needs to top up food supplies or to help her throw out expired food.
6. Who cooks at home?
Both of us can cook and she is a pretty good cook. My hashtag is #ChefJ. Now I feel threatened by her.
I love her assam laksa. Also, we hosted a gathering for about 20 people and she cooked braised pork rice.
Of course, I will say whatever she cooks is yummy. But to be fair, I asked my guests and they said the dish was really good.
7. Are there any plans for kids?
Having children is a big responsibility and you need to devote a lot of time to raising the kid. I am a big kid myself - I collect Bearbrick figures. Both of us love to travel and it would be hard to do so with kids. For now, I want to enjoy married life. We can travel together and see the world.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
I want people to remember me as a singer, but I guess I have to wait until I actually release an album. I want to be remembered as a positive person who brings joy to others.
• My Teacher Is A Thug is available on Toggle.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.