Tay Ping Hui treated every day of filming ‘Mind’s Eye’ as if it were his last

Plus, Jesseca Liu says her husband has been trying to get her to watch gory films, and Michelle Chia reveals which horror classic haunted her for months.

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Left to right: Wang Yu Qing, Emily Chan, Tay Ping Hui, Jesseca Liu, Michelle Chia.

When we entered the venue where the press conference for Mind’s Eye was being held, we wondered if we had accidentally stumbled upon an abandoned Halloween attraction. Severed fake limbs were scattered across the floor, and there were drinks resembling blood packs on the snack table.

As it turns out, this eerie sight was completely in line with the surprisingly gruesome Toggle Originals series, which has a serial killer (played by Frederick Lee) who gets a kick out of cutting up his victims. Yep.

Even the cast members themselves were taken aback by how dark the final product turned out to be after they saw the five-minute preview. “There was always a very happy atmosphere on set, so when we saw the trailer, we were shocked!” exclaimed Jesseca Liu, who stars as a private investigator who can see the future through her sense of smell.

Michelle Chia, who plays Frederick’s “psychotic” onscreen twin sister, concurred, recalling how they would often be “joking around just seconds before” the cameras started rolling. “When you’re filming the show, you don’t see or feel how scary it is, but it looks rather scary!” she said.

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Tay Ping Hui.

Also starring in Mind’s Eye as a headstrong detective is Tay Ping Hui in what is his first local production since joining China-based entertainment company Perfect World Pictures last year. While he has been spending more time in China as he develops his career there, he stayed in Singapore throughout the duration of filming, and will remain here until February as he is set to direct an episode for Fresh Takes.

That’s certainly good news for the 49-year-old actor, who recently lamented about missing three years of Christmas at home. “It was quite depressing because they don’t celebrate Christmas there, while it’s a pretty big thing for me,” he told us.

That said, there are no big celebratory plans in the pipeline as Ping Hui said that as he gets older, the more he longs for simplicity. “It’s no longer about big parties and lots of alcohol - just a simple dinner or gathering with family and friends is enough to make me very, very happy,” he smiled.

After Fresh Takes, Ping Hui will work on the China version of the beloved 80s local classic Samsui Women from late February or early March till the third quarter of 2020, go on a month-long break (he hopes), and then begin shooting another Mainland remake of another 80s local classic, The Awakening, until at least mid-2021.

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Tay Ping Hui filming in China. (Photos: Instagram/Tay Ping Hui)

Whew! That’s one full plate, but if there’s one thing Ping Hui has learned from being exposed to “the big bad ocean” that is the Chinese showbiz industry, it’s that one should never rest on their laurels.

“Over there, you’re only as good as your last production, and if you f*** it up, you’re gone, so you can’t really take anything for granted,” he shared. “Here, you can get too comfortable because Singapore is very protected and insulated, while in China, there are a lot of creatures that are trying to eat you up.”

“So I’m a little more pressured and a little bit harder on myself when I’m up there; I can only demand the best from myself,” Ping Hui continued. “I can relax a little when I’m home but I still brought back that attitude that every day… well, I’m not young. So I took every day of filming like it was my last, and gave it my 110 per cent. Of course, along the way there are little pockets of fun and joy, but when it comes to work, I’m all serious.”

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