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The Unbelievable Dream.

By Flora  /  02 Dec 2015 (Wednesday)

Despite being in the entertainment scene for more than 30 years, Mr. Unbelievable is local actor Chen Tian Wen’s first leading role in a feature film; and his newfound fame came rather unexpectedly. 

All thanks to the viral video of Chen singing cheesy English lyrics like ‘stunned like vegetable’ and ‘Come be my coffee table and I'll be your sofa’, to the tune of Huang Qin Yun’s 70s Hokkien song. As of Dec 2015, the video has garnered more than 3.2 million views on YouTube and Facebook.  

At the press conference held at Faber Peak yesterday, Chen said that he wasn’t able to sleep as he was ‘nervous and excited’.

“I am not young anymore, sort of like an ‘uncle’. To have a newfound fame at this age, it is truly quite unbelievable. I am very moved by what has happened so far and I am thankful for it,” said Chen.

In Mr Unbelievable, which opens this Thursday, Chen plays an aspiring singer Eric Kwek who is determined to be famous. But his lack of good looks and mediocre vocals, he sets on a musical journey in hopes of achieving his dreams. 

Chen was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award at the 2013 Golden Horse Awards for his role as a jobless father in Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, but before that momentous peak, Chen went through more ‘lows than highs’ in his acting career. 

The 52-year-old actor recounted: “My lowest point was before I filmed Ilo Ilo. It was that two-to-three years that I didn’t have much job opportunities. I only had one or two projects for the entire year and it could only be a guest-starring role.”

Learning to speak in Hokkien for this movie was a challenge for actress-entrepreneur Jaime Teo. To learn her character’s catchphrase ‘Nin Lao Hiah’ (literally translated to ‘your older brother’, but used in the context to express unhappiness and surprise), Teo, according to Chen, spent a good half-an-hour just to get the pronunciation right. 

She said: “It was just three words! I don’t think I can say it correctly now, and just these three words, to say it correctly with the correct inflections and all the nuances that it comes with, it takes a lot of practice.”

“I have not practiced it since filming wrapped… but I can say that my Hokkien improved,” she added.

But learning the dialect presented her a moment that ‘she’ll never forget’. 

“When I learned the Hokkien song (Little Umbrella), I found out that my grandfather was hospitalised due to a stroke. I visited him at the hospital and sang the Hokkien song that I learned. He smiled even in his sleep! It’s a moment I’ll never forget because it’s something close to my heart - to sing Hokkien songs to my grandfather, it felt very dear to me. 

Everything seemed to have come together very nicely. I wouldn’t have learned this song otherwise and to sing it to my grandfather at that time, it’s very touching for me.”
Mr Unbelievable also stars Roy Li Fei Hui, Marcus Chin, Tosh Zhang and Liu Ling Ling, and opens InCinemas 3 Dec 2015!
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