During our 20-minute chat with Wong Jinglun outside the Mediacorp imaging studio last Friday (Jan 4), we could see first-hand just how the Singapore-born, Taiwan-based multi-hyphenate managed to make a name for himself as a beloved - and award-winning - host: he deadpans like a pro. Witty remarks come to him naturally, and he delivers them with such ease and a straight face that it almost makes you wonder if you were supposed to laugh or not.
However, being good at something doesn’t always mean you find it easy. Out of the three areas of entertainment he’s dabbled in (hosting, singing and acting), the 35-year-old admitted that he still finds hosting the most challenging of them all simply because it can be the most unpredictable.
“No amount of training or practice can prepare you for some of the situations that could arise; the only thing that might help is a lot of experience,” he said, adding that charity programmes are especially difficult (because you can’t afford to say wrong or inappropriate things), as is getting complicated official terms right (like the titles of ministers).
For the next three months at least, Jinglun will be able to take a break from these anxieties of emceeing as he focuses on his appearance in long-form drama Jalan Jalan, in which he will play a Taiwanese travel show producer. This marks his very first Channel 8 role, as well as his acting comeback since 2012’s Channel U programme Jump!.
“When the producer [of Jalan Jalan] contacted me asking if I wanted to be in the show, I said yes immediately,” he told us, explaining that he also viewed it as a good opportunity to come home to be with his family. Then, for some strange reason, several more proposals began pouring in like an avalanche after that.
“I waited six years for people to approach me with acting offers and they never came, then all of a sudden, I got calls from three different places - Taiwan, China and Singapore - asking if I wanted to work with them! It’s so weird! I wondered, when did I suddenly become so popular?” he quipped. However, he had to turn them down due to his commitment to Jalan Jalan and his other ongoing project, Musical TARU, which ends its run this Sunday (Jan 13).
In fact, Jinglun told us that he will remain in the Lion City the entire time to focus 100 percent on Jalan Jalan, which will mean giving up on Taiwanese gigs from now until March. “Usually, I will stay in one place for work the whole time unless I really have very little scenes, but a good number of episodes revolve around my character,” he explained. “And besides, they aren’t covering the cost of my flight tickets. (Laughs)”
Jinglun wants to try playing a bad guy - do you think he's got the look?
What made you decide to accept the role in Jalan Jalan?
Jinglun: First of all, like you said, I’ve never done a Channel 8 drama before, and it’s also been a long time since I last filmed in Singapore. And to be honest, I didn’t ask for a lot of details [about the role] - as soon as I heard it was going to be in Singapore, I automatically took it. (Laughs)
Since it’s been such a long time since you last acted, is there anything you’re worried about?
I was looking forward to playing a Singaporean who speaks Singlish and Singapore-style Mandarin, but I ended up playing a Taiwanese! Even though I developed my career in Taiwan, I think that will be my biggest challenge because it will still take some self-adjusting. The main difficulty lies in making sure that the terms I use don’t sound too local.
Now that you’ve started acting again, what are some roles you would like to take on in the future?
I’d like to challenge myself by playing very strange and perverted characters, such as a serial killer. I want to play a villain who looks like a very nice guy, but eventually shows his real, twisted side in the end. Something like Chew Chor Meng in The Reunion: he looks like a very kind person, but he turned out to be so wicked!
What are his thoughts on kissing scenes?
We read from the synopsis that you will be caught up in a love triangle with Jayley Woo and Hong Ling in Jalan Jalan. Will you have any intimate scenes with them?
That’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask from the beginning but I haven’t dared to do so. (Laughs) I’ll deal with it if and when the day comes, but I’m totally fine with kissing scenes. I’ve filmed them before in Taiwan - with both men and women! (Laughs)
Jayley and Hong Ling are 8 and 11 years younger than you respectively. Would you be uncomfortable with the age gap?
I don’t think so. In fact, I think I get along better with people much younger than me. There’s usually no generation gap, except maybe when it comes to music - the songs they consider “old” may not seem very old to me!
Being back in Singapore also means getting to catch up with friends!
You seem to be taking on more and more local projects. Are there plans to relocate back to Singapore for good?
Not necessarily, although I have been coming back more and more often. Last year, I was in Singapore for a total of two months (when you add up all the days together), and this year, I may be here for at least four months. But I can’t be away from Taiwan for too long or my PR (permanent residency) will become invalid. (Laughs)
So, speaking of love and your constant jetting between Singapore and Taiwan, do you see yourself settling down with a Singaporean or a Taiwanese girl?
I leave that up to fate because either one is not bad at all! But in general, I hope to find someone who will be accommodating wherever I go and won’t mind moving around with me, because if not, it’ll be very troublesome and cause a lot of problems in the future. That, or someone who is very independent and is fine with us being apart for long periods of time.
Would Jinglun prefer dating a younger or older woman?
Have you thought about when you intend to settle down?
There’s also no use thinking about it. I used to believe I would settle down at the age of 35, but I was wrong! (Laughs) And purposely looking around doesn’t mean it will happen either; you just need to let nature take its course. Perhaps I could take on more projects and meet more people?
Would you prefer to date someone older or younger than you?
Definitely younger. I don’t think older women would like a guy like me, unless she is very motherly. I need a motherly girlfriend who likes to take care of people because I can be like a little boy who needs to be taken care of, but most women prefer to be the one being taken care of!