Once an unrivalled Channel 8 male lead, Singapore actor Tay Ping Hui, 45, has had to share acting jobs with a batch of younger talents in recent years.
But his absence from Channel 8 dramas this year, he says, is a conscious effort on his part to diversify his projects.
"I am doing other stuff. I am not sitting there twiddling my thumbs," he says in an interview with The Straits Times last week.
On Channel 8, his last starring role was in music drama Crescendo (2015). This year, he was in Channel 5 drama The Hush and Channel U travelogue 3 Men 1 Journey. He has also filmed a yet-to-be aired Chinese TV drama Legend Of The Condor Heroes.
Having been on local TV for close to two decades, he says: "I've paid my dues. I've done four to five projects in a row, so I think now it is time to try different things. Variety is really the spice of life.
I'm back doing Tanglin. And whatever bad, evil things they want me to do, I'm on. F*** the hero. The hero is always bound by rules. I don't like playing the hero. Playing the villain, there are no rules, I can do whatever I want.
ACTOR TAY PING HUI, on reprising the role of villain Peter Tay in the second season of Channel 5 series Tanglin
"Variety is what spurs me on because I want to continue to challenge myself to do different things. I've done variety shows and English shows. I went overseas to shoot."
He had a change of scenery in July when he was in China for about a month to film the period epic Legend Of The Condor Heroes. He played historical figure Temujin, who was later known as the great Mongolian conqueror Genghis Khan.
Cast by the China production team because of his "intense look", Tay says: "Everybody pretty much knows who Genghis Khan is. He is the man who united Mongolia. He is the man whose empire was twice the size of Alexander the Great's. To be able to play the historical figure is a great honour."
For him, one of the perks of portraying the Mongolian warrior was getting to take part in massive battle scenes on horseback during the filming in Lanzhou and Hengdian,
"I've ridden horses before, but that was just a bit of canter. This time, the horse was in a full gallop. I was holding a sword in one hand and charging at full speed alongside another 100 horses. How many people can have that experience?" says Tay, who tied the knot with a university lecturer in 2010 and has no children.
He is likely to appear in about 10 of the 40-odd-episode drama, which is slated to be aired in China early next year.
This is his second Chinese production after the mythological period series The Legend And The Hero (2007) starring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.
Back home, the actor is ready to reprise his role of villain Peter Tay in the second season of Channel 5 long-form series Tanglin.
He says with relish: "I'm back doing Tanglin. And whatever bad, evil things they want me to do, I'm on. F*** the hero. The hero is always bound by rules. I don't like playing the hero. Playing the villain, there are no rules, I can do whatever I want."