Actor Joshua Tan met with accident while training for new show

While learning to do backflips for Flying Through Time, actor Joshua Tan (above) landed on his neck.
While learning to do backflips for Flying Through Time, actor Joshua Tan (above) landed on his neck.PHOTO: RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA

Joshua Tan piled on 20kg for the movie, Ah Boys To Men 4, and lost 17kg for the theatrical production Flying Through Time

8Q

Branded the hunk in three Ah Boys To Men movies, home-grown actor Joshua Tan, 27, was ready to show audiences a different side to himself in the fourth and latest instalment of the hit film franchise.

In Ah Boys To Men 4, which is showing in cinemas, the 1.75m-tall actor is almost unrecognisable as the usually toned star piled on 20kg for the role to hit 88kg.

Speaking to The Straits Times in a recent telephone interview, he says: "I felt like my career had started to stagnate because I was playing the same type of good-looking guy role over and over again. When (director) Jack Neo suggested I gain weight and try something new, I was totally up for it.

"The point of being an actor is to keep transforming into someone else, so getting the chance to do this was a dream come true for me."

The only problem was that he did not realise he would have to shed the weight again very quickly, as he was approached to do a physically demanding stage role as soon as the movie wrapped in September.

Not wanting to miss out on the "great opportunity", he signed on despite the fact that he had to lose the extra weight in just two months.

"The scary part was that, by then, I had gotten almost too comfortable with my new lifestyle with all the food and lack of exercise. But I set my mind to lose the weight because I did not want to miss this," he says.

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That gig is theatrical production Flying Through Time, the new resident production at Resorts World Sentosa beginning on Saturday.

Directed by Choi Chul Ki, the South Korean creator of other live shows such as Nanta and Chef, the show is a sports-heavy fantasy production featuring everything from acrobatics to gymnastic performances, as well as martial arts skills such as wushu and taekwondo.

Tan leads an international cast as heroic warrior Tiger, who teleports from ancient Korea to modern-day Singapore in search of a mythical relic.

He says: "I was quite worried at first that I would have real difficulty losing the weight again so quickly because you just cannot do this show if you are not fit. Luckily, my body turned out to be like a balloon and I lost 17kg in just two months."

He adds: "I hope to do more action roles in the future and Flying Through Time is a great first step in that direction. The weight loss part was a challenge, for sure, but the role is such a privilege that I did not have to think twice about doing it."

1 How did you gain the weight for Ah Boys To Men 4?

I went for very carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice. I also had a lot of cheese and stopped exercising.

I avoided junk food and sugary stuff because I knew it would be very bad for my body in the long run, even though it would be the fastest way to gain weight.

2 How did you then lose the weight in just two months?

The training for Flying Through Time was very intense, so all of that burnt a lot of calories.

But I also made extra trips to the gym whenever I could, about five or six times a week. I cut down on carbohydrates and I avoided beer as well.

3 You had to train in acrobatics and gymnastics for one month in South Korea. What was the biggest challenge you faced there?

It was actually the language barrier. Some of my friends can understand a bit of Korean because they watch K-dramas, but I'm not a fan and I had zero knowledge of Korean.

When some Korean trainers tried to teach me the technical aspects of the stunts, I found it very challenging to understand. That's when a lot of sign language had to come in.

4 Did you suffer any injuries during training?

I landed on my neck while learning to do backflips. I forgot to tuck in my knees while in the air, so there wasn't enough momentum and I ended up landing on my neck.

It was really scary and, for two seconds, I felt real panic. The trainers there did not let me move for 20 minutes because they were afraid I had dislocated something or, worse, could be paralysed. I had a bit of a phobia of doing backflips after that, but I slowly overcame it.

5 Home-grown actress and YouTuber Melody Low, 24, who is known for being very sexy, is also in Flying Through Time as a cheerleader. What is she like in person?

She is actually extremely shy. She has a certain persona online, but in real life, she is quiet and conservative. In Flying Through Time, her role is a parody of her usually sexy persona, which I think is very brave of her to take on. It will be refreshing to watch.

6 Despite branching out to other projects such as cosplay movie Young & Fabulous (2016) and TV show Lion Mums (2015), you are forever known as one of the "Ah Boys". How do you feel about that?

I'm actually very happy about that. Ah Boys To Men (2012) was my first movie and it gave me so many opportunities after that, so I am very grateful.

Some people work their whole lives to get one popular role and I was blessed enough to get something like that so early on in my career. I don't see how there could be any negative part about being associated with the Ah Boys franchise.

7 Do you keep in touch with the other Ah Boys, such as Wang Weiliang and Tosh Zhang, outside of filming?

Yes, definitely. These guys are my best friends. That's amazing because we are all so different and would probably never have become friends if not for the movie.

Take Weiliang, for example - he is East and I am West, but somehow, we have become great friends.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I am hoping I can start doing action films and be an action star, so if I could be remembered as one, that would be great.

If I could achieve even just one-tenth of what actor Jackie Chan has achieved, I would be very, very happy.

•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

•Ah Boys To Men 4 is showing in cinemas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'Chunky Ah Boy gets hunky again'. Print Edition | Subscribe