'To be honest, I regretted taking on this drama': What show is actor Qi Yuwu talking about?

Lim Ruey Yan
The Straits Times
Feb 18, 2024

Actor Qi Yuwu reflected on the emotional roller coaster he went through while acting in the Channel 8 drama Once Upon A New Year’s Eve, including his regrets about accepting the role.

Qi, 47, has been commended by several viewers for his role as Cai Yiren, a bossy and self-centred businessman who was estranged from his family.

The drama, which also starred actors Jesseca Liu, Zhang Zetong, He Yingying and Jeremy Chan, aired its last episode on Channel 8 on Feb 16.

“I still remember that day when I read the entire script for the first time,” Qi wrote in Chinese on social media on Feb 16. “I felt a sense of melancholy and lots of pressure, as if I was facing a formidable enemy. To be honest, I regretted taking on this drama.”

The China-born, Singapore-based artiste said Once Upon A New Year’s Eve dealt with several deep emotions and he was concerned that his reputation would be affected by his latest role.

Qi is a three-time winner of the Best Actor award at Mediacorp’s Star Awards, the national broadcaster’s annual awards show for its Chinese-language content.

“I sometimes felt like my body was numb and I had been hollowed out after filming a heart-wrenching emotional scene, and it happened again day after day,” he wrote. “Yet, when I dragged my tired body home at night, I felt a sense of fulfilment.”

Qi’s view was echoed by his wife, Singaporean actress Joanne Peh, who shared on social media on the same day about her husband’s emotional journey while filming Once Upon A New Year’s Eve.

“For the 3+ months he was shooting this drama, I saw him come home exhausted, with hardly much energy left to talk,” she wrote. “Sometimes, his voice is hoarse, his eyes red, and I knew it must have been an emotional day.”

Peh, 40, said she read Qi’s scripts in the day while he was away and realised his character was in every scene, sometimes appearing multiple times as the plot involved time travel.

“Filming this was going to be gruelling physically, but the emotional work? That’s something not written,” she wrote. “And so I watched the magic he created on screen with the role.”

The actress, who has an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son with Qi, said her heart ached along with her husband as he sat alone in the living room and teared up.

“Could he have decided to play it superficially? Not dig so deep into his emotions?” she asked. “With his acting experience, we’d all probably still think it’s a good performance. But he can’t. By his terms, this is the only way he can play this role. And it’s genuinely brilliant.”

Peh said as a fellow actor, she has great respect for her husband and much admiration for his craft.

“As his wife, I am proud of his commitment and dedication, the encouraging messages from friends and fans, positive reviews from media practitioners and good feedback from the public,” she said. “He deserves every one of it.”

The Straits Times

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