Source: The Straits TimesPhotos: ST, TNP, Shin Min, Reuters, AFP, HBO Asia, CinemancerActress Joan Chen says she has gone from sexy vixen to dragon woman, in the eyes of Hollywood film-makers."When I was younger and more beautiful," she says, laughing, "I was the sexy vixen, the object of desire. Then I got older and I was the dragon woman. Evil. They don't want you as a human - they want you as a spice, a colour, an exotic element."Chen, a China-born actress who broke out internationally in the Oscar-winning The Last Emperor (1987) as Empress Wanrong, is now 51.She spoke to the press this week about her role in Serangoon Road, a detective drama series set in Singapore in the 1960s, now being filmed in a studio on Batam.When she found her character in the show too confining, she was not afraid to use whatever clout she has to expand it.Talking to Life!, she says her part as Patricia Cheng was "bare bones" initially. Her character is a widow, a woman who becomes the unwilling owner of a detective agency after the murder of her husband. Through her, new cases are introduced each week."She helps tell the stories of other people. When I got on board, I made her story fuller," she says.She felt Patricia needed more pathos and introduced the idea that she be infertile."She had to be more vulnerable. In that era, in Chinese culture, and probably across Asia, a woman who is incapable of conceiving must have a deep sense of unworthiness," she says.She also suggested to the writers that Patricia be given the goal of finding her husband's killers, in a story arc that stretches across all 10 episodes of the first season, to begin airing later this year. The drama is a co-production between HBO Asia and Australia's ABC TV.