What with her countless modelling and hosting gigs, as well as the release of her own music video last year, you could say that Natalia Ng was born to be in front of a camera. In fact, it was only a matter of time before the Malaysian-born, Singapore-based artiste graced the big screen. Now, with the release of the local horror film sequel, "23:59: The Haunting Hour", she has — as a vengeful snake spirit.
In an exclusive interview with L'Officiel Singapore, Natalia tells us more about her long-held passion for acting, her experiences on set at Crazy Rich Asians and 23:59, and all the details of her upcoming second single. Read on below for more.
What made you venture into acting?
I’ve always had a big interest in acting since I was little. I took drama classes in university and I did a lot of plays in school. I’ve always liked performing arts. Later on, I realized that I don’t have as much interest in the Broadway scene as I do in the film industry. I have a lot more interest in film production, directing and screenwriting. I’m just a fan of the movie world.
How did you get your start in acting professionally?
I actually did a couple of Hollywood productions, but they were very minor roles. I was a stand-in for Blackhat with Chris Hemsworth, directed by Michael Mann. I did Crazy Rich Asians as well, as a featured extra. I was one of the best friends of the lead. It was a fun experience. It was nice to see really big sets and how they work. I have lots of passion for that.
Did you have a similar experience filming 23:59: The Haunting Hour?
As a featured role in Crazy Rich Asians, I saw how they treated the main cast, and I was like, “Wow.” Then when I went into 23:59, I was like, “It’s so nice to be treated like a main cast member now!” (laughs)
23:59 is obviously not as large as a Hollywood production, but it’s pretty big on its own because we did travel to both Singapore and Malaysia to film. But local productions are more chop chop, they don’t drag out things as long. They kind of just get a scene and move on.
Can you tell us more about your role in 23:59?
I play a vengeful snake spirit. She’s got some powers, like turning into a human in order to catch her prey. Basically, she was angered because the army did something to her. Her actions in the film weren’t for fun, but to get revenge on them for what they did. So, in the film, she comes and just destructs the entire army.
"I really like that [my character] is quite complex and that ultimately what she was doing was out of love. As evil as she was, she was doing it for love. You might think she’s not so bad after all."
What are some memorable moments that you had on set?
The one the comes up to me was when I filmed a couple of my first kissing scenes. In the first scene I did, I was in full hair and makeup for my suit. I had on a latex mask that was moulded after my face and went over my lips too. When I met my cast member, Richie Koh, for the first time, I was in the whole get-up and he had this look like, “Oh my gosh, I have to kiss this!” So it was kind of interesting to see his reaction.
The other person I had to kiss was Mark Lee. He’s such a veteran in the Singaporean film industry and it was such a profound moment for me to film the scene. He was very professional and he really guided me through it. We did it so quickly and we didn’t have to do many takes.
What did you learn from the experience?
For this role, I was actually not given any lines. I had to act completely through body language. Initially, I thought, “This is easy, I don’t have to memorize any lines.” But when you appear that many times and you don’t have lines to help you tell the story, you need to have a presence and really know how to act with your whole body. It’s so much more difficult than you’d expect.
Did anything spooky happen on set?
I was actually scared that that would happen! Because we would film from 8pm and wrap at 6am, and we filmed in the National Service camp in Malaysia in the middle of a forest. But when I was there it was all right because there were so many people and it just seemed like a normal set. So, thankfully, nothing happened to me, maybe because I was a ghost. (laughs)
What kind of films would you like to star in next?
I’m still quite fresh and I really want to explore all the different types of characters out there, but if I had a choice I would love to do a romantic comedy or an action film. In fact, if I could do a romantic comedy that’s also an action film, that would be a dream come true.
Are there any directors that you’d especially like to work with?
I’m open to working with any director at this point, but the dream would be to work with James Cameron and Christopher Nolan. These two are my top directors and I really admire them for their vision and the amazing films they produce.
In terms of the local scene, there’s a whole score of good directors that just don’t have the opportunity right now because we need more local fans to really support the local industry more. I think that’s the issue we have at the moment.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think my personal style is pretty simple, but I always like to have something that’s a little bit statement. I would like to dress very comfortably but at the same time I do what flatters me most. I make sure I don’t let the clothes wear me at the end of the day.
Besides your movie debut, what are your other highlights of 2018?
I just filmed my second music video, which will probably be out between the end of August and September. We’re also going to be working on my third single, and then we’re gonna release the entire EP by the end of this year. Those are some things that I’m really excited about.
What can we expect from your second single?
My second single is the complete opposite of my first, FLY. FLY was more of an upbeat and positive song, but my second single drops it down. It’s more to my speed because I wrote the original myself. It’s darker and a lot slower. It’s something completely different from the first.
23:59: The Haunting Hour is out in cinemas now.
HEADER PHOTO CREDITS
Photographer Jericho Soh
Styling and Makeup Jamie Ng / JN Entertainment
Hair Jen Lai / Shunji Matsuo and 007hairextension
Outfit Purana #risingfashion