Pop singers try their luck as movie actors

October 10, 2007

Pop singers try their luck as movie actors
13:24′ 09/10/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Scratch a method actor and what do you get? Another actor, says the old industry adage. If you were to do the same in Vietnam, however, the chances are you’d find a vocalist.

Four members of AC&M, the boyband whose members are the latest pop idols trying to make the leap to the silver-screen.
The outsiders: Four members of AC&M, the boyband whose members are the latest pop idols trying to make the leap to the silver-screen.

It seems the Vietnamese film industry is suffering from a poor self-image – judging by the latest batch of good-looking pop stars to grace our screens.

Among the wannabes to have successfully made the transition are Nguyen Phi Hung, Ho Quynh Huong, Phuong Thanh and Lam Truong.

No doubt directors, and producers recognise a good marketing opportunity when they see one.

“Their fame and their fans are a big attraction to us and are foremost in our minds when we cast a singer in an acting role,” said Khai Anh, who directed the recent TV hit Nhat Ky Vang Anh (Vang Anh’s Diary).

Anh has been very successful at exploiting fan loyalty, and singers that instantly come to mind are Hoang Hai, Le Hieu, My Dung, Cao Thai Son and Bich Ngoc.

However, it’s not just cynical, one-sided exploitation on the part of the movie industry – many a fading pop singer has managed to revive his or her flagging singing career by flirting with film.

Ho Ngoc Ha, who began as a singer more years ago than she’d perhaps care to admit, managed to multiply her fan-base by taking on acting roles.

While Ngo Thanh Van reinvented herself for the lead role in The Rebel this summer, which has become one of the highest-grossing Vietnamese films of all time.

“I love both singing and acting,” gushes Van, no doubt lapping up the attention.

Hoang Hai, the most sought after singer-cum-thespian in Vang Anh’s stable of actors, said the difference between the two performing arts is less clear-cut than they first appears.

“The two disciplines are not dissimilar. I like acting because it allows me to explore my character, dig out unknown facets to my nature. Moreover, acting is great fun and invaluable experience for singers,” says Hai.

However, not every singer has found acting to their liking. Famous pop stars, such as Nguyen Phi Hung, Lam Truong and Phuong Thanh, did little more than dip their toe in television before scurrying back to their first love.

Others are less willing to put their lucrative singing careers on hold while they devote their time and energy to acting.

“In Vietnam, you can make money from singing but not acting. I mean, every Vietnamese movie actor has to make sacrifices to develop their careers,” says The Rebel’s star Van.

And there are those like Tran Hai Minh who believe pop stars should do what they know best.

“Almost every singer now acting has never had any professional training. All they have is their celebrity and their voices. Directors lining up to cast them in a role have given them the misguided notion that they are talented film stars, rather than just decorative props,” said Minh.

Director Nguyen My Khanh, who began shooting the musical Acappella this month, believes in casting actors whose real lives match those of the parts they are playing.

“I am very interested in working with actors whose fictional characters are similar to their own. If they can relate to the part they will put their heart and soul into getting it right,” said Khanh.

Which is why she has cast the band AC&M to star in her latest work.

“Things will be much better when singers who want to be actors realise they are involved in a serious work of art rather than a promotional campaign for their own careers,” she said.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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