She doesn’t do smiles. She doesn’t do intimate scenes. She doesn’t care what you think. She only wants to be herself. Here’s the story of why Rui En is Rui En.
"Tom yum soup. Alone time. Doing charity work. Feeling like I’ve achieved something new in my acting. Paris. Shorts and slippers. Rainy nights, but only when I’m safe and warm at home.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a list of things that make Rui En happy. So stop asking her why she looks so miserable all the time, because she’s not. Her. Face. Is. Just. Like. That. “I’m not a naturally smiley person,” she tells us exasperatedly. “And when I don’t smile, that’s my face.”
Rui En’s lack of regard for what you think of her fascinates and frustrates us. On one hand, we admire her honesty and that stick-to-her-guns bravado, and give her props for being the lonely tree, steadfast and unwavering in a field of pretty, nodding flowers. On the other hand, there is that maddening question: Who the heck does she think she is?
She is, of course, the actress who would rather stick pins in her eyes than do love, kissing or rape scenes, and whose absolute refusal to compromise in this aspect has led to blow-ups with fellow showbiz-ers. She’s the A-lister who isn’t afraid to show her disdain at awards ceremonies, scoffs at press conferences and interviews, and shuns celebrity events. She’s the star who hates stardom.
And yet, her popularity is iron-clad and her fans ever devoted. She’s been a fixture on the Star Awards Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste list since 2005, and looks to be in zero danger of dropping off anytime soon. In spite of — or possibly because of — her reticence, people love her. We ask her why she thinks she’s popular, despite her unwillingness to play the fame game. “I have no idea,” she says matter-of-factly. “Honestly, I don’t think about all these. I just do what I do.” When we push her to speculate, she shrugs, “I really have no clue. Maybe I’m different?”
Indifferent, more like, her detractors may sniff, and stubbornly self-centred. Self-contained, more like, her legion of supporters will cry, and resolutely sure of what she wants and doesn’t want.
It’s been three long years since our last cover interview and shoot with her, and in that time, Rui En has become ever more enigmatic while maintaining a constant presence on TV in almost back-to-back Ch 8 dramas. It seems the more she acts in reel life, the less she is inclined to act in real life.
In a bid to peek into her doubtlessly-complicated psyche, we’re eschewing fancy themes, costumes and props for this shoot, and just letting Rui En be Rui En. Which explains the moodier-than-usual photos. Along with her own stylist, who dresses her for the Star Awards, Rui En selected these outfits, because they are her. “I’m happy with it,” she tells us after the shoot. “I thought some of the shots were quite what I’m about. It was quite natural for me to do some of those poses.”
Did Rui En give 8 DAYS a piece of her true self in this photo shoot and interview? We’d like to think so, but we’ll never know. And that’s all right.
For the full cover story, read this week's issue of 8 DAYS (#1131).