22 May 2003
Showtime & Lifestyle
COULD life imitate art?
Two people – as different as day and night – meet and fall in love.
But that’s the TV plot.
In the case of actors Lu Rui En and Howard Cheung, the falling in love bit is still a question mark.
Both are lead actors in the new local English series, Chemistry, about free-spirited radio deejay Rachel, who falls for strait-laced fitness consultant CK after overcoming a string of misunderstandings and differences.
And since the two characters were actually modelled on the leads’ real-life personalities, things might just get interesting.
In fact, just as in the plot of the romantic comedy, it took quite a while for Rui En and Hong Kong-born Howard to warm up to each other during the rehearsals.
Rui En, 22, who launched her debut album in January, told The New Paper frankly over lunch on Tuesday: ‘I thought that him being a model, he would be the vain sort.’
And according to her, Howard didn’t help matters by hanging out with the guys and not really bothering with her.
But after a ‘psychotherapy’ session ordered by the producer so that both can exude more chemistry on the show, the pair started to get along a lot better.
The final-year NTU business undergrad added: ‘I totally got it (my first impression) wrong.
‘Howard’s actually got another side to him. He’s very patient and gentle, and when he gets to know you better, he will actually start telling you jokes.’
Soon after the ice was broken, the couple even started teasing each other.
‘I would tease him about his love for health food, and he would bully me back by making me feel guilty about what I was eating.
He would go, Do you know how much oil that contains?’. He’s just like HNN – Health News Network – I can ask him all sorts of questions about health.’
When The New Paper called Howard in Hong Kong, where he’s based, the first-time actor would only describe his co-star as ‘very pretty’.
The difference between them was painfully obvious.
While Rui En was gregarious and lively, 26-year-old Howard was shy and subdued.
He then claimed that he didn’t spend much time with Rui En off the set because she was ‘always so busy’.
But unlike the Chemistry script, the ‘love’ story of Rui En and Howard may not progress beyond friendship.
When asked whether sparks will spill over from reel to real life, both didn’t sound too keen.
Howard would commit only to a polite ‘anything’s possible’, while Rui En was a bit more adamant.
She said: ‘I don’t believe in opposites attract.’
He’s not really my type, and I’m quite fussy about type.’
Then she added: ‘But I guess you can say that he’s a potential can lor.’
So how well do Rui En and Howard know each other? How much chemistry do they have after working on Chemistry? We put them through the test …
What is his favourite phrase?
Rui En: Dude.
Howard: Isn’t life exhilarating?
What is his pet peeve?
R: This one I know! Confirmed! Forgetting to bring his health food and having to eat ‘unhealthy’ food like the rest of us!
Do you know that he comes to the shoot carrying two huge backpacks full of health food?
He eats his cereal in the morning, has fish soup for lunch and he prepares his own afternoon snack of an apple and tuna mixed with olive oil … every day!
H: Smoking I guess, I don’t like smoking. But she’s right about the two backpacks, only thing is I’ve never forgotten (my health food)!
What is his worst habit?
R: Farting. He doesn’t do it all the time, but he’s been known to do it, even in the air-con room! And apparently, it smells very bad, which is very shocking, since he doesn’t really eat red meat. He has never done it in front of me, but he has threatened to.
H: Sleeping in. I’ve been late for filming before, but so have the rest.
(We then told him what Rui En said.) Oh no! But it’s a guy thing, farting in front of one another! I hate the smell of smoking. I have to fart to neutralise the smoke.
What is his secret fantasy?
R: To open a martial arts school and a health food cafe.
H: To become a professional tennis player.
* ON RUI EN
What is her favourite phrase?
Howard: (pauses for a very long while) I can’t recall her having one.
Rui En: Wah lao eh! (As in her favourite phrase, not Howard’s inability to answer the question.)
What is her pet peeve?
H: I don’t know. It’s been a while since we last met, and we spent only three months together … Why don’t you tell me her answer, and I’ll go, ‘oh yah, that’s right’?
R: Having to wait for something.
What is her worst habit?
R: Biting my nails and picking at my toe-nails. Especially during exam time when I have to study. I can’t sit still, I have to find something to do. And because of that, I’m very ashamed of my toe-nails, I don’t like people to see them.
What’s her secret fantasy?
H: To meet Takeshi Kaneshiro. She really likes him. When we talk about it, she will go ‘Oh, so gorgeous!’
R: My secret fantasy will be to go sky-diving.
X-Men or The Matrix?
Rui En: X-Men
Dogs or cats?
H: Dogs. I like cats too, but I’m allergic to them.
Suntan lotion or sunblock?
Which came first – the chicken or the egg?
Is the glass half empty or half full?
R: Half full
H: Half full
Wow, 4 out of 5 – sizzling hot chemistry!
Source: The New Paper