Tay Ping Hui relishes his new role as Genghis Khan: 'How often do you get to behead people?'

23 September 2016 / 8 months 3 days ago

Lisa Twang
The New Paper
September 22, 2016

Do not get on the wrong side of Tay Ping Hui. The local actor enjoys spilling blood - on screen, anyway.

While filming new Chinese TV period drama epic Legend Of The Condor Heroes, the 45-year-old was glad to unleash his inner barbarian to play real-life 12th century Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan.

"It is fun - how many times do you get the chance to behead and murder people?" Tay joked to The New Paper in a phone interview on Wednesday (Sept 21).

Legend Of The Condor Heroes is Tay's second Chinese drama production after 2007 series The Legend And The Hero, which starred Fan Bingbing and Steve Ma.

Tay, a fan of award-winning HBO fantasy TV series Game Of Thrones, said he felt like its sword-wielding hero Jon Snow while filming Legend Of The Condor Heroes.


"During a battle scene where I was doing a full calvary charge on horseback, leading 100 soldiers into battle wearing full armour and with a huge golden sword in one hand, I felt like I was in (Game Of Thrones season six's penultimate episode) Battle Of The Bastards," he said.

Tay insisted his supporting character Genghis Khan, also known as Temujin, is more like Jon Snow than his cruel nemesis Ramsay Bolton (played by Iwan Rheon).

Set during the Song Dynasty, Legend Of The Condor Heroes tells the fictional tale of Guo Jing and Huang Rong and their adventures with martial arts legends, the Five Greats.

As a boy, Guo Jing grows up in Mongolia under the care of Genghis Khan.

"Genghis was a tyrant and would kill entire villages he had conquered, including women, children and dogs," Tay said.

"But he had a human side, and believed in brotherhood and honour. Ramsay was just sadistic and a psycho."

Tay is the only Singaporean cast member for Legend Of The Condor Heroes, which he filmed in Lanzhou and Hengdian between July and August.

Starring Chinese actors Yang Xuwen and Li Yitong, the drama will air next February.

Read also: Jacelyn Tay's husband does not know about kissing scene with Tay Ping Hui

Tay snagged the role after the show's executive producer had a chat with him in Singapore and decided that the intensity of Tay's eyes made him suited to play Genghis Khan.

Tay said his wife thought he looked "very cool" in costume.

"I never in my life thought I would be wearing plaits. I thought it would look gu niang (Mandarin for feminine), but I was very satisfied with the final look of my character," he said.

Tay said filming was physically exhausting, as he had to wear 15kg of armour and a thick coat made of real dog fur even in 35 deg C weather.

"I usually keep fit, so even though it was tough, I could handle it," he said.

As Genghis Khan, Tay needed to look confident on horseback - Mongolians learn to ride from the age of four.

His Mongolian co-stars, who played his generals, taught him how to handle his steed.

"They told me horses will challenge you if they feel you can be bullied, so you need to show them a lot of affection but be firm.

"When they 'play punk', you have to show them who is boss. Luckily, I reached an understanding with my own horse," he said.

Tay recalled some encounters with his fans in China.

"Once, while on set, two girls from the production team recognised me while I was in costume and could even name the characters I have played before," he said.

Tay said he would be interested to move to China if his career there takes off.

"The types of dramas there are diverse and working in a different culture is always a valuable experience.

"I think it would be a great opportunity as an actor."

This article was first published on September 22, 2016.
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