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No nude or sex scenes: Peter Yu wants to try all roles offered but with exceptions

No nude or sex scenes: Peter Yu wants to try all roles offered but with exceptions
Peter Yu has five films featured at the 34th Singapore International Film Festival this year.
PHOTO: SGIFF

Opportunities come knocking at your door when you least expect it and actor Peter Yu would know.

Speaking to AsiaOne at the 34th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) press conference yesterday (Oct 25), the 55-year-old said that he returned to acting in 2016 because of a "miracle" that happened earlier that year.

"I was old and not famous and nobody recognised me, but out of the sudden, I received five calls in one week [offering acting opportunities], which is why I returned to act in a drama with Mediacorp," he said, adding that acting has always been his passion and calling.

Peter debuted in Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now Mediacorp) after the Star Search competition in 1990. At the height of his career, he was nominated in the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes category in the 1995 and 1996 Star Awards. He won the award in 1997 and was placed in the top 15 in 1998.

He joined the now-defunct broadcaster SPH MediaWorks from 2004 to?2005 and faded out of the spotlight after divorcing television host Quan Yi Fong in 2008. Peter worked as a taxi driver and also as a property agent, before returning to acting in 2016.

He made his comeback in the Mediacorp drama Hero where he acted as Luo Bei, a character reportedly partly based on his own life experiences.

His career started going upwards again when he played police officer Lok in neo-noir mystery thriller film A Land Imagined, which premiered in August 2018 at the 71st Locarno Film Festival, and won the top prize.

It was also the first Singaporean film that was named Best Asian Feature Film at the 29th SGIFF.

The success of A Land Imagined open doors for Peter and he has since participated in multiple film projects. Five of his films, where he played lead roles in two of them, will be featured at the SGIFF this year.

'I help them and they help me'

When asked what he looks for when offered a script, Peter said: "I want to try out all roles. In Singapore, there isn't much to choose from… so I am happy to take on both lead and supporting roles, no matter what they are."

He added that he would take any roles offered to him and do it seriously, sharing that he has?also helped graduating students from Nanyang Technological University and other institutions film their graduation projects every year.

Peter said: "I help them and they help me. Who knows, next time they get a best director award and invite me back to work with them?"

However, he has one condition.

"Just as long as there are no sex scenes or nudity, that is good enough. Because in A Land Imagined, I was forced to do it," he said with a laugh.

'I don't want Peter ah, I want Mr Lim'

Peter also shared that he had an enjoyable time working with the different directors while shooting the five films because their working methods are different.

"I always want a breakthrough in every scene," he added.

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In Kelvin Tong's A Year of No Significance, Peter plays Chinese-educated architect Mr Lim, who finds himself at a crossroads in 1970s Singapore where English is increasingly used in the workplace.

Speaking about working with Kelvin, Peter shared: "Kelvin usually shoots horror films, so he emphasises a lot about inner emotions and he thinks a lot, so that helps me too.

"Sometimes after I do a scene, he would ask if I want to do it another way. He would also give me suggestions on how to portray my character in a cool and calm way, which works…

"When I portray a character, it may come to an extent where I forget my character and Peter Yu would appear. So he would remind me, 'I don't want Peter ah, I want Mr Lim' so it's very good."

'If we act naturally and speak naturally, audiences will also feel comfortable watching it'

Peter also plays friendly neighbour Tan in Chai Yee Wei's Wonderland (formerly titled The Last Letters), who helps illiterate single father Loke (Mark Lee) write letters to his daughter Eileen (Xenia Tan), who is studying in New York.

He shared that he finds the film special because they have to speak all their lines in Hokkien.

"I think it is very natural when we act. I am a Hokkien, so the director told me that it felt great to hear me speak it… I believe if we act naturally and speak naturally, audiences will also feel comfortable watching it," he added.

Beside the two films, Peter also played supporting roles in Nicole Midori Woodford's Last Shadow At First Light, Nelson Yeo's Dreaming and Dying and Chong Keat Aun's Snow in Midsummer.

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The 34th SGIFF will?be held from Nov 30 to Dec 10. This year, the festival is celebrating the largest number of awards in over a decade with the return of two awards —?the Cinema Icon Award and the International Federation of Film Critics Award.

The Cinema Icon Award 2023 is awarded to Chinese actress-producer Fan Bingbing, who will be gracing the red carpet event on the festival's opening night on Nov 30.

SGIFF has also launched its first-ever Festival Pass this year, which is available for purchase at $200. The pass grants unlimited access to all screenings at the festival except for Festival Opening, Special Presentation and ticketing forum events.

Single-film tickets are priced at $25 for the Festival Opening film, $20 for Special Presentation film and $15 for all other films.

Early-bird tickets are available for sale from today, while the official ticket sales will commence tomorrow at 12pm.

More information on the festival can be found on the SGIFF website.

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yeo.shuhui@asiaone.com

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