The New Paper
20 April 2015
Local veteran actor Chen Tianwen has hit the big time again, thanks to two videos that went viral.
The first clip, Unbelievable, was released on Monday and the follow-up, Sandcastle In My Heart, which co-stars local actress Irene Ang, was released on Wednesday. The clips, both two minutes long, have garnered more than a million views in total.
The videos, uploaded on MediaCorp Channel 5’s Facebook page, are promotional material for Channel 5 comedy series Spouse For House 2.
Chen plays Ah Beng Eric Kwek, dressed in a retro 70s outfit complete with a wig. He performs in English, in a singing style modelled after local Mandarin pop king Huang Qingyuan.
The popularity of his music videos also saw Chen being featured on TIME’s Facebook page yesterday.
For Chen, who has been in showbiz for three decades, this unexpected late-career resurgence in popularity is a blessing. And it comes soon after his role as a hapless jobless father in the award-winning 2013 local film Ilo Ilo.
Speaking to The New Paper, the humble 52-year-old said in Mandarin over the phone: “I feel very lucky to be more high-profile now. This feels like my second peak in the industry after working hard for so many years. My efforts are paying off.”
He added: “However, even though I have such results now, I must still continue to work hard. I cannot slack off because such popularity is short-term and will go away soon.”
Chen, who married China-born housewife Bao Xiao Hui, 30, last May, is expecting a boy on June 8 and feels that his unborn baby has brought him good luck.
The first-time father is excited about the arrival of his child and said they have been busy shopping for the baby’s clothes and food recently. Chen, who is filming the long-running Channel 8 series 118, has also sought parenting advice from his co-stars.
He laughed and said: “They told me to get all the sleep I can now, because once my kid is out, I won’t be able to sleep much. They already gave me some mental preparation.”
Chen has gone from playing heroic leading men when he started in show business in 1984 to overlooked supporting parts in the past decade, but his dedication to his craft has never wavered.
He said matter-of-factly of Unbelievable’s success: “I agreed to do it because it is my job and I have to do it well. I felt that the song is nice and catchy, but I certainly did not expect the overwhelming response.”
He added: “Hopefully, this popularity can land me more commercials and gigs. I will have an extra mouth to feed after my baby is born, I need to work even harder.”
"I felt that the song is nice and catchy, but I certainly did not expect the overwhelming response." said local actor Chen Tianwen on Unbelievable’s success.
A touch of 'Ah Beng and Hokkien'
He has single-handedly popularised the phrase "stunned like vegetable".
In the Unbelievable music video, which went viral after it was uploaded on Monday, Chen Tianwen performs a hilarious love song with lyrics such as the now-classic "You blossom like a flower, I so stunned like vegetable" as well as other choice verses like "Come be my coffee table, and I'll be your sofa" and "Please be the metal cable to my cable car".
The lyrics for Sandcastle In My Heart continue in this ridiculous vein, with lines such as "Your spade hurts me so badly everytime you dig, dig, dig" and "I am your guppy".
Chen said with a laugh: "The past few days, people have kept coming up to me and telling me, 'You so stunned like vegetable'. I also received many text messages from my friends who said that I am very famous now."
He added: "I think the lyrics of the song are very meaningful, they are simple yet romantic and cute.
"The whole concept of the MV is very unique too as it has that 'Ah Beng and Hokkien' style. When we were filming it (at Marine Parade), we were all enjoying it. It was fun."
Chen is open to the idea of singing Unbelievable and Sandcastle live, saying: "If my company (MediaCorp) makes such an arrangement, I will be more than willing to perform it for the people who enjoy it."
Chen revealed that even his unborn baby is a fan of Unbelievable, as he would actively kick in the womb whenever the song is played.
When asked if he would do any stunts for his online supporters if Unbelievable hits the one million views mark, Chen paused for a while and said: "I haven't really thought about it yet. But I don't think I will do daring acts such as running down Orchard Road topless or things like that. I will let nature take its course."