Spider boys spin web of CHARM
Fighting Spiders’ young cast steals show from older stars like Ezann Lee
By Charlene Chua
May 17, 2009
THEY are newbies with barely any acting experience.
POPULAR:Viewers are taken with (from left to right) Edwin Goh, Liang Shijie and Frederick Fielding, the young stars of Fighting Spiders. –TNP PICTURE: CHOO CHWEE HUA –TNP DESIGN: PRADIP KUMAR SIKDAR –PICTURE: MAGICRAZED
But they have charmed television viewers since the debut of Channel 5 drama Fighting Spiders in mid-April.
So much so that fans are saying the trio – Frederick Fielding, 16, Edwin Goh, 15 and Liang Shijie, 11 – have outshone their more experienced co-stars.
Fighting Spiders, a 13-episode 1960s-set drama which will end its run in July, revolves around the adventures of three boys – Soon Lee (Edwin), Peter (Frederick) and Charlie (Shijie), who go on a quest to find the Raja Labah-Labah (The King of Spiders).
And while the cast also includes Rebecca Lim, Ezann Lee and Janice Koh, it’s these boys who appear to be the selling point for the show’s trailers.
Their on-screen antics are now dominating some online forums on the show.
The series’ Facebook fan page has over 800 members with fans discussing the three boys’ characters and scenes at length.
Wrote Andrew Cm on the Facebook page: ‘The way Peter (Frederick’s character) said that line, ‘I’m glad you came to visit’ was lovely. It had so much feeling and subtext.’
Another netizen, knitkitten, said on the MediaCorp forum: ‘I am a huge fan… I especially like Charlie (Shijie’s character), he is just so cute and funny.’
Good friends off-screen too
So how did the boys get cast in the show?
British-born Frederick, a Tanglin Trust School student, had actually accompanied his elder brother – a student at the Centre Stage Arts School – for the audition, but ended up snagging the part instead.
Edwin, who studies at Holy Innocents’ High School, had responded to the online casting call after encouragement from his school’s vocal coach.
Frederick and Edwin have had no prior television acting experience unlike Shijie, whose role of Charlie was already written with him in mind.
This was because the Kheng Cheng School student had impressed the show’s producers with his portrayal of a cute grandson three years ago, in My Time With Ah Kong – one instalment of the five-episode Channel 5 drama, The Stories Of Love Anthology Series.
Despite their newfound fame, the boys don’t think they have stolen the limelight.
Instead, they were full of praise for Janice who plays Edwin’s long-suffering mother in the show.
Still, getting recognised in public and having schoolmates ‘whisper about us’ are things they now take in their stride.
The producers of the show said that they weren’t surprised with the trio’s current popularity as ‘sparks flew’ when the boys auditioned together for the first time.
So what makes these boys tick?
Frederick, whose best subject is drama, is a straight-As student who aspires to be both an actor and lawyer.
Said his mother, Ms Moira Fielding, 46, a housewife: ‘I’m extremely proud of him and won’t mind if he does acting part-time in the future because he really loves it.’
Like Frederick, Beijing-born Shijie is also the pride and joy of his tuition teacher mother and engineer father.
Said his mother, Ms Li Xuemei, 40: ‘Shijie is very obedient, we will support him regardless of what he wants to be in the future.’
Edwin, however, is set on making acting his sole career choice.
Before Fighting Spiders, he played the lead in several of his school’s musicals such as I Want To Be A Star, which were staged at The National Library.
Said Edwin’s father, Mr Terence Goh, 48, a ship supplier: ‘I think he definitely has what it takes to make it in showbiz.’
No bed of roses
But the road to fame hasn’t been a bed of roses for the boys.
For example, Shijie, who doesn’t cry easily, had to rub Glycerin – a viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations – on his eyes so that he could tear convincingly on cue.
It’s obvious that the camaraderie the boys share translates off-screen as well.
Frederick was quick to point out that Edwin was ‘close’ to actress Kimberly Chia, who plays Edwin’s docile love interest in the show.
Shaking his head fervently, Edwin denied this, much to the amusement of the other two boys.
Instead, he confessed to having a soft spot for ‘spunky girls’ while Frederick said that a smart, caring and loving girl is his ‘ideal type’.
The pair spoke for Shijie before dissolving into loud laughter: ‘He likes girls with a thin crust and (are) deep-fried.’
Shijie who was also giggling uncontrollably, agreed.
‘I only like food,’ was all he could muster.