If you’ve been keeping up with Jeffrey Xu’s social media recently, you’d know that the actor has jetted to Malaysia to film the much-anticipated remake of The Little Nyonya. With a production budget of S$32 million – about ten times higher than that of the original – the drama will be filmed in various locations in Malaysia and China and is slated to wrap filming in early 2019.
Among the star-studded cast and crew are the main stylist of Chinese TV series Empresses in the Palace, along with Chen Minzheng, who recently went home with the Golden Horse Award for Best Makeup & Costume Design for Zhang Yimou’s Shadow.
The familiar faces returning to the series are Dai Xiang Yu (formerly known as Dai Yang Tian), along with Xiang Yun, and Jeffrey rounds up the list of local actors who are in the main cast. The roles of Jeanette Aw’s iconic characters, Huang Juxiang and Yamamoto Yueniang, will be taken on by Chinese actress Shane Xiao (also known as Xiao Yan), and Qi Yuwu’s character Chen Xi will be played by Taiwanese actor Kou Chia Jui.
Toggle spoke to Jeffrey soon after they started filming, and while he admitted that he admits to feeling the pressure of being a part of the remake of such a well-loved series, he mused that he will try his best not to let it get to him and express his role of Huang Tianbao (originally played by Andie Chen) naturally.
How Jeffrey almost-but-not-quite met Jay Chou and Hannah Quinlivan
With sky-high expectations for the series, especially from those who watched the 2008 version, we asked Jeffrey how he feels about the inevitable comparisons that will come. “If you watch the remake of The Little Nyonya, you’d feel that it’s totally different from the original,” the 30-year-old said. “I’m confident that we won’t do too badly this time around.”
Jeffrey described the experience of preparing for his role – and working with a mainly foreign cast that he has never worked with before – as a good learning point for him. “When you’re working with overseas actors, the way they work might be very different from what you’re used to, and this is something that you need to learn as an actor and someone in showbiz,” he said. “With fellow local actors, we’ve built up a rapport while working together and we understand each other’s acting style a little better, so we’re able to share ideas easily, but that might not be the case for people you’re working with for the first time.”
Working with an international cast and crew has given Jeffrey numerous unforgettable memories, as he recounted his first meeting with Chen Minzheng. “I thought he’d have a really artistic aura around him, but the first time we met, he said, ‘You’re pretty, but why do your eyebrows look like crescent moons?’” Jeffrey chuckled. The makeup artist then took matters into his own hands and did Jeffrey’s makeup personally, with the actor sharing, “It’s not easy to do that for my eyebrows, and anyone who can draw my eyebrows well is really amazing.”
It hasn’t all been good news, however, as Jeffrey narrowly missed out on meeting Jay Chou and Hannah Quinlivan when they popped by for a visit. “Jay is friends with (our cast member) Darren Chiu, and the actors’ resting area and makeup unit are on the same floor,” he explained. “They came over to say hi but I wasn’t around at the time.”
Are those wedding bells we hear for Jeffrey Xu and Felicia Chin?
After we were done with talking shop, it was time to ask about Jeffrey’s future plans, in particular, one relating to a certain Instagram post with a picture of a lion that was captioned with, “Our future home……”.
We couldn’t help but to ask if that was a hint that he and girlfriend Felicia Chin are finally ready to bring their relationship to the next level, to which he shared, “There are only 50 prints of the photo of the lion in this world. I’ve been wanting to buy it for the longest time, and one day, when I saw it at the ION art gallery, I couldn’t help but to finally bring it home.”
Letting on that he has yet to hang it on his wall, he revealed that he and Felicia will do the honours together after they move into their matrimonial home. “Buying a house together is something that we’re planning, but as of right now, we’re still putting our focus on our respective careers,” he said. “At the very least, I have to finish my work for this year before we can sit down and think about this together.”