Jack Lim Hard At Work!

Jack Lim Hard At Work!

Jack Lim with the exclusive Ah Beng merchandise in his restaurant.

Jack Lim is a Malaysian who first rose to fame by being a MY FM DJ, where he had a segment with his co-host, Gan Mei Yan, and played the role of Ah Beng. Now, Jack is not only an actor, but directs feature-length films as well, and manages a steamboat restaurant with what extra time he has. With his latest, "Ah Beng The Movie: Three Wishes" looming around the corner, Jack has been holding roadshows all over Malaysia as part of the promotional activities, but fortunately he has time to spare for a Cinema Online interview where he revealed his feelings about his work and principles.

Cinema Online interview with Jack Lim was conducted recently at his restaurant at The Scott Garden, Old Klang Road, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Q: So tell us, what is it like to juggle between three jobs: a DJ, an actor and a restaurant manager?
Jack: Boy it is no easy task, I can tell you that! But I get by because of my wife. She's my manager, and she manages everything in my life, from my meals to my jobs to my leisure time. Last year, she told me I worked a total of 600 jobs, which goes to show that she know how to accept jobs that she knows I can do. Usually my routine would be to wake up around 4 in the morning, then go to work till about 2 or 3 the next morning, then come home, take a quick shower and nap, then 2, 3 hours later, I'm up and it's the same thing all over. Some weeks, I slept less than 10 hours total. It can't be helped though, because I love money more than sleep!

Q: What inspired you to film "Ah Being The Movie: Three Wishes"?
Jack: I wanted to make a family film for Chinese New Year, like how they make films for Hari Raya. Chinese New Year is a very important event for me. I come from Ipoh, so during my schooling years in Kuala Lumpur, I was always very excited during the car ride back to Ipoh. I would ask my father repeatedly, "Are we there yet?" So this movie is sort of a tribute to that. I want people to feel the same excitement for this movie as they do for Chinese New Year, by anticipating the return of my Ah Being character, or the fact that it's very family-oriented so they can have something to watch with their family.

Q: What is the most memorable event that happened to you during the filming of the movie?
Jack: The most memorable event would be the number of accidents we had had during the filming. All of us were somehow involved in a car accident despite the number of precautions we took, and some of it weren't even related to the movie directly! The funny thing is, when I told the crew to learn from my driver, the next day, my driver was the one who got into an accident! The worse has got to be when one of us crashed into four cars at once. That took a lot out of the budget.

Jack animatedly describing one of the memorable events that happened during the filming.

Q: Did you manage to keep to the movie's budget in the end? How much was it?
Jack: [Laughs] God, no! The budget for the movie was supposed to be RM2 million, and we went over the budget by 50%, so we ended up paying RM3 million.

Q: How was it like to work over and over again with the people you know?
It's like working with family. We know each other so well that we can even ad lib lines and shoot scenes in a single take. Before, when Gan Mei Yan, or Ah Yan as we call her, she was totally no good at all in acting because she was so shy and nervous. During the filming of our first movie together, for one line in a particular scene, she needed 35 takes! Moreover, the line was just "Itu ikan ambik belakang! (Take that fish to the back!)" Then there was a scene where she needed to cry, but four hours later, she still hasn't shed a single tear despite us telling her lots of sad stories! That's the beauty about working with the regulars; you can see their progress from the beginning till now. Mei Yan has definitely improved a lot!

Q: What are your expectations for "Ah Beng The Movie: Three Wishes"?
Jack: I hope that I can break box office results held by recent movies such as "Nasi Lemak 2.0", which exceeded RM7 million and "Ombak Rindu", which exceeded RM13 million. My previous movies, "Tiger Woohoo", managed to obtain RM4 million while "Great Day" reached RM6 million, so there's that too.

Q: How different are you from your character?
Actually, I'm very much like Ah Beng. First of all, I'm stupid like Ah Beng. No really, when I was young, I had to change schools five times because I could not study. The words swam around in my head every time I tried, so eventually I gave up and asked my father to let me work instead. Secondly, I'm a filial son, like Ah Beng. Lastly, Ah Beng is kind-hearted, and so am I. I try my best to be as charitable as possible because I know how it feels to be poor.

Jack laughingly recalls how it was like to play Ah Beng, an everyday guy that is not unlike him.
Q: Do you watch movies often? What is your favourite movie?
Yes, I do! I love watching movies, especially Hollywood ones. My current favourite would be "Real Steel". Actually, I only went to watch this movie because of my son. Usually, he downloads movie trailers from my iPhone, and it so happened that one day he saw the trailer for "Real Steel" and he excitedly showed it to me. I didn't think much of it at first, but we went anyway. By the end of the movie, I was a fan for real. Who knew that a movie about robots boxing could have so much heart? My son even wanted to watch it again!

Q: Who is your favourite director?
This is a hard one. Well, there are quite a few that I like, such as Jack Neo for his comedies, and my director for "Tiger Woohoo" and "Great Day" which was Chiu Keng Guan, for being an extremely patient person. He always gives us two, three, four chances, and tells us patiently how such-and-such should be done and so on.

Q: What are your goals for the future?
Well, I hope I can earn as much money as possible! It's always about money with me. When I was young, my family was very poor. My father and mother were separated, and he had to raise his six sons by himself. Usually, our meals consist of rice, an egg, and soy sauce. I stopped going to school after Form 3 and starting working double shifts just to earn money. I don't want my family to go through the same hardships as I did, so I want to make as much money as I can to provide them with a better life.

Q: Please leave a message about your movie for your fans!
I hope everyone will enjoy this movie when it comes out in cinemas, because it's full of twists! The protagonist dies in the first two minutes, you don't know what his father will do with the three wishes and most of all; look forward to the action scenes.

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Jack.
You're welcome.