What do an illegitimate son, an estranged friend and a student admirer-turned-ex-lover have in common? All three relationships come back to haunt them after a long period of separation and absence. Also, these three roles in the feature film Distance are each achingly portrayed by Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin.

Last Friday, Chen himself, executive producer Anthony Chen (director of the award-winning Ilo Ilo) and Singaporean director Tan Shijie (Tan directed the second short in the movie) were in town for a press conference and a Blogaloud session to promote Distance.

Singaporean actress Yeo Yann Yann co-stars in the second short as well!

Singaporean actress Yeo Yann Yann co-stars in the second short as well!

Fans who managed to get their hands on tickets for a preview of the movie last Friday had the privilege to meet the three of them, as well as newcomer Cheng Huan-Lin (he plays a younger version of one of Chen Bolin’s characters), in a Blogaloud session after the credits rolled.

Tan Shijie, Chen Bolin, Anthony Chen and Cheng Huanlin with a full house of fans.

Tan Shijie, Chen Bolin, Anthony Chen and Cheng Huan-Lin with a full house of fans.

Combining the interaction with these guests over the course of the press conference and the Blogaloud session, here’s all you could possibly want to know about Distance and Chen Bolin.

Why did the producer and directors choose to use the same actor for three different roles?

“There are three stories but we wanted a coherent feel. The first story was about family; the second, friendship; and the third, love. It was a challenge for the directors to put this work together, so why not challenge the actor too?” explained executive producer Anthony Chen, adding that the performances of the three characters couldn’t be too drastically different from each other for the sake of consistency.

“If you think about it, you could view these as stories of possibly the same man, from three different perspectives, in different situations and stages of his life,” Chen quipped.

Fielding questions from an inquisitive audience.

Fielding questions from an inquisitive audience.

Did Chen Bolin find it confusing to play three different characters?

Chen admitted that it was challenging. Filming for each role took place over two days in different locations, so he didn’t have a lot of time to develop the depth required for each character as well. “I thought hard about the commonality between the three men and figured this out: They each hide a secret. I used that to help me interpret these roles, the nuances in their differences,” he said.

Who wrote the screenplay?

Tan Shijie wrote the screenplay for the second short; the other two directors –Xin Yukun from Beijing and Sivarok Kongsakul from Thailand – wrote the first and third short respectively. Anthony Chen then worked on making the screenplay coherent and consistent.

Is there somebody Chen Bolin is currently separated from, but would want to see again?

“Yes, I wish I could see my yeye (paternal grandfather) again. He passed away this year, while I was filming in Korea. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye. If I were to see him again, we wouldn’t need to exchange any words between us. We would just have a drink, a smoke and eat a piece of candy together. He used to love red bean buns,” shared the actor.

Will Chen and Meng Meng (Song Ji Hyo, his Korean love interest in the reality show We Are In Love) still see each other, or is it goodbye for good?

“We are still in touch with each other, so we’ll definitely see each other again,” Chen Bolin said with a smile.

To find out what secrets Chen Bolin’s characters hide, catch Distance, out in theatres tomorrow.