SINGAPORE - Initial reactions to the announcement that actor Lim Kay Tong has been cast in the role of Singapore founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew for the movie 1965 have been overwhelmingly positive.
Chairman of the Singapore Film Society David Lee, 35, says that Lim is "perfect": "Kay Tong has the gravitas required of the role, and he's English-speaking as well, so there are already similarities there. You cannot cast a Chinese-speaking actor in the role, because the feeling would just be different.
"Years ago, there was news that Tony Leung Chiu Wai would play the role, and although he is an excellent actor, I think many Singaporeans would feel that a Singaporean actor should play the part. The only thing I'm wondering about regarding Kay Tong is how he'll play the younger LKY, but I guess that's where movie magic comes in," says Mr Lee, who is also co-founder and managing director of film education specialist The Filmic Eye.
Lim is 60 years old. In the year 1965, Lee Kuan Yew was 42.
Screenwriter and director Lee Thean-jeen, who worked with Lim on the Channel 5 series The Pupil, describes him as "an excellent choice". He says: "When you look at Kay Tong's presence and the tenor of his voice, there are already many similarities between him and Lee Kuan Yew. Kay Tong is also very charismatic. They say that casting contributes to 70 per cent of the success of a role, and Kay Tong is definitely perfect for the role."
Actress Amy Cheng, who worked with Lim in the popular TV series Growing Up (1996 - 2001), says: "Kay Tong is the perfect choice in terms of his demeanour and his standing in our industry. He also shares a loving and enduring marriage with his wife, Sylvia, as Mr and Mrs Lee did." Lim is married to food writer Sylvia Tan.
Actress Tan Kheng Hua says: "Kay Tong is an excellent actor and any project benefits from his involvement. By the time he agrees to a role, I am sure he must have seen something very worthwhile in it to spend his time on. I can't wait to watch 1965."
On The Straits Times' Facebook page, the comments posted under the cast announcement have also been largely positive, with many readers commenting "good choice", "nice" and "I love him". Facebook user Naomi Salsabila wrote: "He has the looks... he has the character... good.."