There was something a little off about Ian Fang when we caught up with him at the imaging session for his new drama Happy Prince last week: the usually cheeky and cheerful chap with the devil-may-care attitude was nowhere to be found, leaving behind a cautious and self-conscious shadow of his former self.
Then again, we can’t say we were surprised. It was the first time we were speaking to the 29-year-old actor since the damning disclosure of dirty DMs between him and Carrie Wong two months ago (it’s been that long already?).
But we were not there to talk about that, so Ian - and the two minders who were hovering protectively nearby, probably ready to interject as soon as things got too intrusive - needn’t have worried. Like obedient, non-kaypoh reporters, we kept our questions related (or semi-related, at least) to the show, which airs on Channel 8 early next year.
In Happy Prince, Ian plays Da Wei, whom he described as someone who is willing to take on any odd and random job as long as it isn’t illegal or immoral. For instance, you can “rent” him as a boyfriend to appease naggy relatives at Chinese New Year gatherings, or hire him to track down your lost dog.
The real Ian, however, would happily offer to wrap your muay thai arm band for free.
During our chat, we learnt that Ian has actually tried to do the latter in real life. When he was in secondary school, he got wind of a person who was offering $200 to anyone who was able to find their missing pigeon.
After gathering a group of fellow bird trackers, they embarked on their quest, which brought them from Jurong Bird Park to East Coast Park. The search lasted over a month… to no avail (let’s be real: the feathered fugitive had very likely made its way halfway across the globe by then).
When we half-jokingly asked if they had considered simply picking up any other pigeon from the street to take the original’s place, Ian explained that this particular pigeon had unique markings that supposedly resembled auspicious lottery numbers.
In the end, however, we guess those lucky digits worked more in favour of the self-freed bird. On the bright side, at least its owner managed to save $200?
Ian eventually began to loosen up a little, even chuckling when we asked him to rate how princelike he thinks he is. “My fans do tell me that I look like a prince, which makes me very happy,” he grinned. “But I would probably give myself a seven out of 10? I don’t want to give myself a rating that’s too high. (Laughs)”
As for which other local artistes he thinks are the most princelike, he named Christopher Lee and Adrian Pang, but added that they’re probably more like kings at this point. Just then, Edwin Goh passed by and said hi, after which Ian gestured towards him and quipped, “He is definitely not a prince. (Laughs)”
While we felt a tad sorry for poor, supposedly un-princelike Edwin, we were also a little relieved to get a glimpse of the impish Ian we were so used to. His casual confidence also returned when we asked him if he ever wanted to be a prince when he was a kid (just like many little girls dream of being princesses).
His answer was a quick “never”. “I feel like princes have things too easy?” he mused. “I’d rather be a knight instead, because a successful man needs to fight for what he wants.”
Well, he nearly got to achieve his gallant aspirations when he set out to rescue that pigeon. Better luck next time?
Happy Prince premieres on January 15, 2020 at 9pm on Channel 8.
Catch it on Toggle-It-First from January 6, 2020.