Singapore actress Julie Tan makes foray into China market

Singapore actress Julie Tan has gone from lead star in That Girl In Pinafore (2013) to a tiny supporting role in the movie Mystery - not that she minds.

Her new role may be small, but it is a good stepping stone into the China market, she tells Life!.

Mystery, directed by China film-maker Wu Bin and shot entirely in Beijing, is a Singapore-China co-production. It opens at Filmgarde Bugis+ today.

Tan, 22, is the only Singapore actress in the cast that features Taiwan and China stars. In the thriller, she plays the colleague of the main character Su Meike (played by Taiwanese star Ady An), an orphan who finds strange clues about her family's past in an abandoned house.

At a press conference yesterday, Tan said: "I may have acted in Singapore for seven years, but in China, I'm totally new. So who am I to demand a bigger role?

"The fact that the producers even want to include me is a big honour. I treat this film as a learning experience and a good way to gain some exposure in China."

It also helps that she got to act alongside her "teenage idols" An and Jiro Wang, who play the leads in the film.

An, 34, is a Taiwanese actress known for her idol TV dramas such as Autumn's Concerto (2009) and Go, Single Lady (2014), while Wang, 33, is a singer-actor who is a member of popular Taiwanese boyband Fahrenheit.

Tan said with a laugh: "When I was 15, I was a huge fan of Fahrenheit, buying their albums and attending autograph sessions so that I could shake hands with them.

"I never would have thought that I'd be able to be in a film with one of them."

She told Wang that she was a fan and this "surprised" him.

Tan, who is single, added with a chuckle: "He looked really stunned for a while. But we chatted about acting and he asked me about Singapore. He's very handsome."

While she did not have any romantic scenes with Wang, who plays a shady construction worker, she got to have close encounters of a different sort.

"There is a scene where I have to knock him out with a stone figurine and the prop they gave me was really heavy.

"I was terrified of knocking Jiro's head with it and did so many NG takes," she said. NG means "no good" takes.

Executive producer of the film Eula Lee, who was also at the press event, said she saw great potential in Tan having a career in China.

Lee is chief executive of new Singapore- based company Grand Harvest Media, which aims to make several Singapore- China co-production films in the coming years. A graduate of the Beijing Film Academy, the Singaporean said she has "many friends" in the Chinese film industry.

For Mystery, Grand Harvest Media injected about S$1 million into the overall production budget that cost 30 million yuan (S$6.7 million).

She said: "I set up this company to build a bridge of sorts between China and Singapore. I hope we can take more Singaporean talents there.

"Singapore is such an international city and the people here are bilingual, which is a huge asset in the China market. Director Wu Bin has told me that he found Julie to be a wonderful actress and would love to cast her in future projects. This is a good first step."

Mystery opens at Filmgarde Bugis+ today.