Newly-married Desmond Tan feels ‘liberated’ and ‘happy’, even if he ‘can’t tolerate’ his haircut
The actor says he can’t quite stomach seeing his own “mushroom” hair in his latest drama, Home Again. But on the personal front, he’s liking the new “sense of responsibility and commitment” that comes with being a married man.
For six months, Desmond Tan wore a lot of caps to hide his hair.
For the drama Home Again, which debuts on Jan 17, the famously well-groomed actor skipped his usual haircuts, hair products and regular maintenance routine to play a sun-scorched crop farmer who cares more about his vegetables than his own appearance.
“My hair grew into a mushroom along the way,” he told CNA Lifestyle with a laugh. “When I look at the showreel, I can’t quite tolerate the way I look!”
During the months of filming, “I attached a cap to my work bag” so that once he was done with his scenes for the day, he could put it on right away, because “when you go to the hawker centre to buy dinner, you have people coming up to you asking for photos. I try not to reject requests like that and it’s hard to tell them, ‘I look very ugly now’!”
He quipped, “I just want to officially thank my team – my hair stylist, makeup artist and fashion stylist – for helping me look good for campaigns and commercials.”
Of course, “A farmer wouldn’t be so concerned over the whole image thing,” acknowledged the 35-year-old, who immersed himself so deeply in the role that he was able to write lyrics for the drama’s theme song from the point of view of his character.
“The show revolves around the importance of family and kinship. There are a lot of scenes about separation and reunion. I put these elements into the lyrics,” he said.
For example, the song speaks of people in different parts of the world looking at the same stars and moon, missing one another. “Many of my colleagues are from Malaysia and some of them practically haven’t seen their wives and newborn kids in the past two years. I put those emotions into the lyrics.”
Writing the words for and performing the song “helped me in my process as an actor for my role,” he added.
Tan also divulged that because of the pandemic, he might have been experiencing “subconsciously, a certain level of stress”, what with working for a long time without a break or getaway.
“I realised we had been taking things for granted, like being able to book a flight in the morning and fly in the evening, or having reunion dinner with family, or visiting during Hari Raya,” he said.
And so, directly after filming for Home Again wrapped, the first thing he did – after getting a haircut, that is – was to jet off to France to marry his longtime girlfriend in a romantic wedding ceremony.
“I’m not sure if it was the wedding or holiday, but it was quite a liberation for me,” he chuckled. “It helped me a lot to be happy.”
He added, “I’m a happy person. Really happy.”
Take a self-driving road trip around France with stops along the way in Nice, Marseilles and Paris, as well as staying in a rural area with horses, was “very therapeutic”, he said. “You get so obsessed with working in this city-state, you kind of forget the world is huge. It’s the biggest revelation to realise how big the world is.”
As for the wedding itself, and being a married man, there were “interesting emotions” that struck him as very different from all the reel-life wedding scenes he’s done as an actor, he observed.
“When things actually happen to us, it’s just pretty different. There’s something magical within… It’s a deep feeling I can’t comprehend at the moment. I simplify it as a sense of, you just want to protect your other half more than ever,” he told us.
Although “things are pretty much the same” in married life – “maybe because I started work” – “I definitely like the sense of responsibility and commitment,” he said.
“I think every person, whether it’s husband and wife or father and son or any relationship, (should pledge) to love each other more every day. Things happen and sometimes we get too busy and affected by emotions because of what surrounds us, whether it’s work or what happens in life. But always remind each other to love each other every day. That is one of the principles I wish to honour for a long time.”
It’s also a line he put into the song that he wrote and performed at his wedding.
“I like this idea. It sounds like a theory, but if we consciously remind ourselves about it, I think it will manifest,” he said.
Home Again is available on demand for free on meWATCH from Jan 17 and on Channel 8 starting Jan 18 at 9pm.