Abby Choi murder 'disturbed' actress Jessica Hsuan, who has sex scene in new serial killer drama

Jan Lee
The Straits Times
Jan 19, 2024

A horrifying true-life crime that shocked the world ended up helping Jessica Hsuan get more into character for her new drama.

In Mediacorp’s first M18 Chinese-language series Kill Sera Sera, the Hong Kong actress plays May Shaw, a grieving mother determined to avenge her daughter, who is killed and dismembered in a brutal murder.

At a press conference at InterContinental Singapore on Jan 18 to promote the show, which is available on mewatch, Hsuan admits she could not conceive of something so perverse happening in real life.

But the sensational murder of 28-year-old Hong Kong socialite and mother of four Abby Choi in February 2023 – which occurred just as filming was about to begin on Kill Sera Sera – was downright chilling to Hsuan.

Choi’s headless body was discovered in a village in Tai Po, a suburb in Hong Kong. Some of her body parts were reportedly hidden in a refrigerator and some of them were cooked. Among the suspects arrested were her former husband and his family members.

Hsuan, 53, tells The Straits Times: “Obviously, I don’t want to say something so tragic helped me to connect with the role, but I didn’t know this woman and, still, I felt so disturbed and so upset by her case. If something like that happened to your child, you would go crazy and mad with rage.”

The dark themes of the drama – about a serial killer who strikes only on Leap Day – surprised even the cast, which includes Malaysia-born actor Christopher Lee, Taiwanese star James Wen as well as local artistes such as Chantalle Ng, Xu Bin and Damien Teo. 

Hsuan has a sex scene with local actor Terence Cao, who makes a cameo as a man who has an illicit affair with May.

Despite her long career, the former TVB star admits that baring skin onscreen is quite uncommon for her.

She adds: “Terence’s character in the show is someone really sleazy, a really terrible person who must make the audience feel very uncomfortable. But filming the scene was okay. I had done fittings and knew I’d be wearing (a black negligee), and I was confident that whatever we did was necessary and in service to the plot.”

Still, there are scenes that rightfully terrified Hsuan, such as one in which Lee, who plays May’s husband, slaps, demeans and attempts to rape her during an argument.

“Even when you know it’s acting and you know you are safe, it’s scary. It’s important to be in those feelings so your fear is authentic. I had a great scene partner in Chris and almost all of our scenes together were completed in one take,” she says.

While the two stars have admired each other’s work for a long time, Kill Sera Sera is the first time they are acting opposite each other. It is also a return to home-grown dramas for both.

Lee, 52, is based in Taiwan for work and his last local series was After The Stars (2019), while Hsuan’s last project with Mediacorp was 2011’s Bountiful Blessings.

Hsuan had not been to Singapore in at least five years prior to filming Kill Sera Sera. “Everything here is so much more expensive now. I feel that way just observing the prices at the supermarket.”

Lee, however, is always glad to be back.

While he took on this role for its boundary-pushing script and the chance to work with Hsuan and Wen, the series also allowed him to be close to home, as his Singaporean actress-wife Fann Wong and their nine-year-old son Zed live here.

Does it feel odd to switch between the patriarch of a dysfunctional and tragic family in the series and the loving father he is in real life?

Lee says: “Obviously if I’m still shooting something, I won’t forget about my character. But I don’t bring their emotions home with me. 

“I keep it very separate and once I’m fully done filming something, I forget about it. I let it go. There’s no need to hold onto anything (because that) will interfere with my creation of new characters.”

When he is in Singapore, he focuses on spending quality time with Zed, who goes golfing with him.

“I have no dreams of him becoming a professional. Do you know how expensive it is to train someone to be a professional golfer? We’re talking millions of dollars. This is just something he enjoys,” he says. 

Lee adds that he tries to respect Zed’s own interests – the boy’s dream is to become a marine biologist – while motivating him and encouraging him to do well in school.

He adds: “If we don’t see a need to, we don’t make him go for tuition. We also don’t judge him based on grades. We just try to expose him to different things so he can figure out what he likes.”

Lee clearly loves being a parent, but Hsuan – who is a mother of two in the series – has never wanted kids.

The bachelorette, who has never married, says: “Of course I have wondered before if I want to embark on the same path as many of my friends, who have got married and given birth. But I think having kids is a huge responsibility. I simply don’t have the time nor the patience – I really am an impatient person – to raise a child properly.

“But if it happens, falling in love and finding companionship is still wonderful. I don’t think there’s a need to be married, however. I’m really very happy with my single life.”

The Straits Times

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