The last thing you want is your kaypoh aunties and uncles to focus on you during Chinese New Year. What’s the best way to deflect attention?

Watch a CNY movie, of course! Not only do you get to escape conversation, you also divert their attention to the fictional lives of strangers. And, when you’re done with the movie, you can gossip about the film and its actors!

The cast of Take 2 gave us lots of fodder when they gathered members of the press for a press conference on Tuesday. Produced by the same team behind the Ah Boys To Men series and starring Ryan Lian (Long Long Time Ago 1 & 2), getai veteran Wang Lei (Long Long Time Ago 1 & 2), Maxi Lim (Ah Boys To Men), and Gadrick Chin (Ah Boys To Men: Frogmen), Take 2 is about four ex-convicts who try to make the best out of a second chance at life. But as it turns out, the actors lead pretty interesting lives, too. Here’s the best of the goss.

1. Who is the ultimate NG king, Henry Thia or Wang Lei?

From left: Gadrick Chin, Wang Lei, Henry Thia, Ryan Lian, and Maxi Lim. (Credit: Golden Village Pictures)

From left: Gadrick Chin, Wang Lei, Henry Thia, Ryan Lian, and Maxi Lim. (Credit: Golden Village Pictures)

Who better to answer this question than the film’s executive producer Jack Neo, who has collaborated with both Henry Thia and Wang Lei through the years?

Henry Thia’s highest record of NG takes is more than 60, according to Neo.

As both actors are a bit older than the rest of the cast, with Henry Thia (affectionately known as Hui-ge to most) at 66 and Wang Lei at 56, they tend to forget their lines or get them wrong while the camera is rolling, leading to NG takes.

But Neo adds that Hui-ge has very much improved in recent years, whereas Wang Lei still needs to buck up. Why, then, are Hui-ge and Wang Lei still very much sought-after in films? “Because they’re hilarious, even when they make mistakes,” said Neo with a chuckle.

2. Wang Lei spilled the beans that one of his co-stars is still a virgin. Guess who?

“I’ll kill that Wang Lei for telling everyone my secret.” Nah, just kidding. (Credit: Golden Village Pictures)

Is it the suave Ryan Lian, who started learning wushu at age 13 and made his first screen debut as Ah Long in Long Long Time Ago? Is it the cherubic-faced Maxi Lim, who shot to fame with the Ah Boys To Men franchise, and very recently shed 14 kg within a period of five months? Or is it the lanky Gadrick Chin, who hails from Sabah and was frequently involved in church productions during his teenage years?

It’s Chin, who is 34. He gamely admitted that he had indeed revealed this highly private nugget of information to Wang Lei while on set one day. Wang Lei said, “We were beo-ing (Hokkien for ‘ogling’) girls and I pointed one out to Gadrick… He surprised me by saying that he was still a virgin! At first I didn’t believe him, but he sumpah (Malay for ‘took an oath’).” Gadrick’s reply: “It’s my personal view that I should be respectful. When I have a daughter one day, I won’t want guys to be messing around with her either!”

3. Which two male leads in Take 2 have had brushes with the law in the past?

Wang Lei and Gadrick Chin each have a little history with the law. (Credit: Golden Village Pictures)

Wang Lei and Gadrick Chin each have a little history with the law. (Credit: Golden Village Pictures)

The tattoos you see on Wang Lei’s body in the film are real. By “real” I don’t just mean that they are not stickers; I mean they are authentically representative of his gang associations from yesteryear. During a group Q&A session at the Take 2 press conference, he let on that he had actually been arrested and charged in court for accepting illegal lottery bets during the 1980s. (He said he pleaded guilty and was punished with a fine of $20,000.) After his eldest daughter was born, he swore that he would turn over a new leaf, and left the gang.

The other person who admitted to having ties to criminal activity in the past is Chin, who candidly shared that his family has clan connections. “Loansharking, beating people up… You name it, we’ve done it. When I was 14 or 15, my friends and I attempted robbery, but we didn’t succeed,” he said.

4. The boy playing the role of Ryan Lian’s son was talent-spotted while working as an intern during the film’s pre-production. True or false?

Shawn Ho, 21, was talent-spotted by Take 2's director Ivan Ho on the first day of his internship. (Credit: J Team Productions Facebook page)

Shawn Ho, 21, was talent-spotted by Take 2’s director Ivan Ho on the first day of his internship. (Credit: J Team Productions Facebook page)

True! Shawn Ho, 21, is a student of ITE College Central’s Higher Nitec in Filmmaking course. He was an intern attached to the film production crew for Take 2 and was spotted by director Ivan Ho, who was hard-pressed to find someone suitable to play the role of Ryan Lian’s estranged son Ah Guang.

“He was there arranging the cables and I thought, why not give him a try? So we got him to read some lines and he passed the audition,” said Ho.

At first, he refused to accept the acting role, added Neo. “We had to approach his teacher-in-charge (of the internship), and she persuaded him to take on the challenge. For a person with no acting experience, his performance was outstanding,” he said.

Looks like Take 2 is all about giving people a chance to prove themselves. Hui-ge wouldn’t have made it if his production team didn’t give him a chance; Shawn Ho wouldn’t have been picked if the director didn’t take a chance on him; Wang Lei gave himself a new chance at a career when he entered showbiz at age 38.

And isn’t that what each new year is all about – being able to do it all again? Unfortunately, that also applies to how you will parry your relatives’ endless questioning… But now you’ll be better equipped to deal with it after watching Take 2!