SINGAPORE - What can be more terrifying than seeing a ghost or a zombie?
For singer-actor Nathan Hartono, it could be having to shoulder the lead role for the first time in a mainstream movie.
Speaking to The Straits Times and other local media, the star of the upcoming When Ghost Meets Zombie says: "It was really scary going into this film. This whole thing is a learning experience for me because I'd never done this before."
He certainly does not count his cameo role in last year's Chinese New Year comedy The Fortune Handbook as prior film experience.
The 26-year-old says: "That was just me and a bunch of friends hanging out and having fun for half a day. Now, there is a lot more to do in terms of workshopping and learning about my character."
Directed by Han Yew Kwang (Rubbers, 2014), the new film is about how a young hunk named Pong (played by Hartono) becomes a zombie after sacrificing his life to save a fellow villager. When he falls in love with a free-spirited female ghost (played by Ferlyn G), he allows her to possess him so that she can realise her dream of winning a beauty pageant.
Now that Hartono has been filming for about a week, he has learned to fully enjoy the process.
"I actually find it relaxing now. I know whom I'm working with and I'm getting the hang of it all, so I feel great. It's been fun," he says.
He was speaking to the media while getting his zombie make-up done at the Mediacorp campus, where he was filming a scene in which three male pageant judges - played by Shaun Chen, Jack Neo and Benjamin Heng - see him on stage for the first time.
Photographers were not allowed to take pictures of his made-up face, but the dark under-eye circles and contouring on the cheeks made him look grey and gaunt.
Earlier in the day, he had filmed a kissing scene with Ferlyn G, a process which he describes succinctly as "good".
The pair had six or seven takes of the scene and the kisses were "very long" at 45 seconds each, he says.
His zombie role does not require much dialogue, which is a challenge because he has to emote through facial expressions and his body.
This is why he has been working hard on perfecting his zombie movements, which includes having to move around without bending the knee or the elbow.
"I've been practising this at home for days and it's really tough. My whole body gets so sore at the end of the day."
One zombie trait that comes easier to him - having to keep his eyes wide open without blinking. "I don't know why I'm good at that. It's a pre-existing skill that I have," he jokes.
When Ghost Meets Zombie is slated for release in early 2019.