Twenty-six-year-old Tan burst onto the scene from nowhere and immediately sent hearts aflutter with his big-screen debut, Ah Boys to Men. The heartthrob says of his meteoric rise to fame: “It’s been five years and the bunch of us are still taken aback when we think about it. We were fresh actors with no following, no one knew about us, and overnight it just went, ‘Boom’.”
What were some of the challenges you faced after becoming famous?
Adjusting to life in the public eye was a bit overwhelming at first. But I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve realised that not everyone is out to get you. It’s not always a bad thing to be on the receiving end of the attention.
How have you evolved as an actor?
I’m now comfortable with calling myself one. I felt embarrassed initially. I’d see more experienced and talented actors not attaining the success or popularity they so rightfully deserve. And here I was, this young punk getting all the jobs. I felt I shouldn’t be where I was. But after a while, I told myself, “Why beat yourself up over it? I have this opportunity. I’ve to make myself deserving of it.” That’s what I’m still trying to do today.
Which role took you out of your comfort zone?
I was in a film called 4Love. It’s a compilation of four shorts; mine dealt with divorce. My parents have been happily married for the past 40 years and I’m obviously not married, so it’s a foreign theme for me. But it’s a challenge we as actors love. You research and get into the psyche [of your character]. I’ve also suggested to a director that I want to be fat for my next role. I’m known for my physique, but I’d like to change things up.
By Gerald Tan and Dana Koh
Photography by Gan
Styled by Windy Aulia
Hair and Makeup: Grego, Manisa Tan/PaletteInc, Red
Styling assistant: Gracia Phang
Fashion intern: Abielle Yeo