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Jeremy Chan, Ayden Sng and Desmond Tan get buff bods for new drama All That Glitters

SINGAPORE – Over five months, local actor Jeremy Chan dropped 16kg and got ripped to play a muay thai fighter in the upcoming Channel 8 series All That Glitters.

But he says his wife – Malaysian actress Jesseca Liu – misses his chubbier physique.

“She finds the new body sexy, of course, but at the end of the day, she still likes cuddling with someone who’s softer and nicer to hug,” says Chan, 42, who went from 68kg to 52kg.

He is one of three leads, alongside fellow Mediacorp actors Ayden Sng and Desmond Tan, for All That Glitters, the broadcaster’s major production of the year, which was filmed in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Premiering on mewatch and Channel 8 on Monday at 9pm, it is the first Mediacorp series to be scripted by hit-making screenwriter Ang Eng Tee (The Little Nyonya, 2008) since 2016 series Hero.

All That Glitters follows the rags-to-riches story of three tight-knit friends who aspire to be rich and successful. Over the years, as they chase their dreams, the friendship begins to fracture.

For gunfights, car chases and various action scenes in the 30-parter, the trio were tasked to buff up.

Chan recalls: “I didn’t have that much time to hit the gym, so I knew I had to go on a hardcore diet – boiled chicken breast and broccoli, and herbal chicken soup with the chicken skin peeled off.”

Tan, 37, says: “When we went out to eat with our wives or our friends, we would have to order hot tea, and wash the oil off what we were eating in the tea. It was a bit anti-social.”

The same cannot be said for Sng. The 29-year-old munched on chips and fried chicken during filming, much to the envy of his older co-stars.

Chan protests: “I was so mad. There were times when Ayden was eating chips next to me while I ate chicken breast. He even asked me: ‘Do you want some?’”

But Tan and Chan got their playful revenge on Sng.

Tan, who married his university sweetheart in 2021, jokes: “On set, Jeremy and I would take out our lunch boxes and be like: ‘Did your wife make this for you? My wife made this for me too.’ And Ayden would be alone.”

Sng retorts: “I am an independent man. I can buy my own food.”

While Chan’s transformation is necessary as a muay thai fighter, why did Tan and Sng have to beef up?

Tan jokes: “Vanity.”

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In truth, Tan has a shirtless fight scene, while Sng was supposed to strip down and run along the Singapore River.

When asked if he felt stressed baring his body in the same series as Tan, who is known for his fitness routine, Sng says cheekily: “You have to be zen. When faced with an insurmountable challenge like Desmond Tan, you just cannot put him on your mind and give yourself undue stress.”

The easy and quick banter between the trio, who admit they did not know one another well before the series, is an extension of the bromance they formed while filming memorable scenes in Alor Setar, Malaysia, and Hat Yai, Thailand.

Tan recalls: “There’s one scene in which Jeremy and I hang off the side of a speedboat going at high speed in this really smelly river in Malaysia. It was quite dangerous.”

Chan adds: “We spent half a day soaked in that river, which was next to a wet market, so there was a lot of food waste in it, like bits of chicken and carcasses. It smelled so bad. At one point, Desmond even picked out a chilli pepper from the river and gave it to me.”

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Sng, whose character grows antagonistic towards his buddies as the series progresses, also remembers the violent scenes he shared with his screen partners.

“There was one where I had to point a steak knife at Desmond, and the knife tip was two inches from him. There was also one where I had to use a spanner to pretend to hit (supporting cast member) Ho Yingying, and I just had this feeling, like: ‘If I slipped accidentally, I could fatally injure my co-star.’”

But the experience solidified the camaraderie and trust among the cast, especially the three leading men.

Sng – a proud “pawrent” of five cats – says: “The fact is, if this series was filmed entirely in Singapore, we would just not have grown so close. Because Jeremy and Desmond are huge ‘wife guys’ – once they’re done with work, they’re going home to be with their wives. And my cats are more important to me than any human beings, so I’ll go home to my cats.”

He adds: “It brought me back to those fraternity days in college, when you’re hanging out with the same group of people every day.”

Tan likens the experience to being in basic military training during national service.

“Previously, we knew each other mainly through work events and social media posts, but when we filmed overseas, we worked out, hung out and basically lived together. We shared everything with one another, be it happy or tough moments.”

All That Glitters premieres on mewatch and Channel 8 on Monday at 9pm.

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