Spending Valentine’s Day with Wong Li Lin, Vernetta Lopez and Nadya Hutagalung is the kind of stuff dreams are made of. So, when we got the chance to hobnob with the trio at the swanky Gold Class Lounge at GV VivoCity, we couldn’t pass it up. Yes, you can go green with envy now.
As it soon turned out, it was quite a handful keeping up with their mischievous repartee and tomfoolery – and no, those aren’t colourful euphemisms – that made sifting fact from nonsense quite a task.
And while they might be three of the leading ladies in the upcoming romantic movie The Leap Years, we were in for a shock when we found out that they never really read renowned Singaporean author Catherine Lim’s story, Leap of Love, on which the film is based.
“I didn’t read the whole book but I went through a few pages,” admitted Lopez.
Hutagalung added: “I got to be honest, no I haven’t.”
When asked whether they read any other books by the doyenne of Singaporean literature, Lopez said: “Did she do any ghost stories?”
“Purple Blossom! That’s one of my favourites,” said Wong, before quickly adding, “I don’t think she wrote a book like that. I just made that up! I am not very acquainted with Catherine Lim novels. But I have always known her as a lady with a beautiful choker and who wears cheongsams. And one of the first to highlight Singapore literature,” added Wong.
Well, that’s alright, because most of us haven’t read it either. Suffice to say that Leap of Love is a short story Lim once spun to entertain a group of students she was teaching some time back.
“We can’t read!” explained 36-year-old Wong.
“Yeah, our lines were fed to us with things through our ears,” said Hutagalung.
So much for the reading, what about the acting then?
The film adaptation follows two people over 24 years after they fall in love on a Leap Day and agree to meet every Feb 29. Wong stars as the younger version of the main character Li-Ann, while Lopez and Hutagalung play her friends Jennie and Suneetha, respectively.
“It was a breath of fresh air for me – Li-Ann’s attitude towards life. She’s not held hostage by anything. And she had a nice bunch of friends and I liked that about her,” said Wong.
Said Hutagalung of her character Suneetha: “I found what’s so endearing was her vulnerable side – especially because she comes across as hard and tough – she’s actually quite vulnerable.”
“With my character, Jennie, I liked her sense of humour. She brings a bit of humour to the show. She’s too practical to be any more endearing than that,” said 34-year-old Lopez enigmatically to sniggers from her co-stars.
So, with The Leap Years being a sappy love story and all, we had to ask about their most romantic moment – which, apparently, they get asked so often that everyone’s tired of hearing Hutagalung’s tale. (We think it’s just a slight bout of jealousy).
“I think the most romantic thing that happened to me was when my husband (Desmond Koh) came to surprise me when I was on location in Europe,” said Hutagalung. “It was the effort and the coordination that went into the surprise that was wonderful. He then proposed to me in Paris.”
“What happened to your French boyfriend then?” joked Wong.
Lopez still has stars in her eyes after her boyfriend – whom she will be marrying in a “trashy” wedding in Las Vegas in August – gave her a telescope.
“My sweetheart bought me a telescope because … in my house, I bring out the binoculars and look at the moon. I love the moon,” she said. “When Saturn was on a close orbit … we actually saw the rings of Saturn. I thought that was very cool.”
“I remember a time … ” began Wong.
“She’s trying to make up something,” interrupted Lopez.
“I feel so sad, my husband’s not very romantic! He just does little gestures,” said Wong of hubby Allan Wu.
“Has he done a naughty dance or something? It doesn’t have to be him, it could be somebody else,” prodded Lopez.
“At least say he once picked you up from the airport,” offered Hutagalung.
“Allan is not someone who is into displays of affection,” explained Wong.
“He’s such a stud. But I remember once, I came home and found a little bag of my favourite cookies.”
And despite having to work with an impressive ensemble cast that included Joan Chen (as the older Li-Ann); Ananda Mathew Everingham (love interest Jeremy); Qi Yu Wu (other suitor K S) and Paula Malai Ali (Li-Ann’s bud, Kim), Hutagalung said the group got along quite well.
“We had a great time on set and really got to know each other,” said Lopez, who added they even took photos of their cleavages. (Thankfully, Edison Chen didn’t get his hands on them.)
But now that The Leap Years is set to make a big splash in cinemas (it opens Feb 29, natch), what’s next for these multi- talented ladies?
“This is my project,” said Hutagalung patting her pregnant tummy. “Besides that, my house and my jewellery are my projects.” (She has a jewellery line called O-sel).
As for Lopez, she will be making more TV appearances with the new seven-part mini-series Random Acts II: Mental and the third season of Tab TV. And no, she’s not moving away from radio just yet.
“I think I go through a ‘you are hot and then you are not’ kind of thing,” said last year’s winner of the Most Popular Radio Personality award, who also runs a wedding planning company.
“It just so happens to be like, ‘oh, haven’t used Vern in a while! So, let’s use her’. So, it’s a bit hot now. But I love radio. It’s live and it’s fun and it’s regular,” she said.
As for Wong, she will be seen next in a German television movie in April called Love Under The Sign Of The Dragon, but she’s still thrilled with her book, which was launched in August last year.
“I wrote a children’s activity book called Perceptive Play. It was a nice project because the children got to be involved,” said the mother of two.
So, do the women have plans for Leap Day this year? “I just go day by day … I haven’t had time to think,” said Wong.
Well, if she misses this one, she’ll have enough time – four years – to prepare for the next one. –
Channel News Asia