KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Taiwanese actor Wu Kang-ren said that he lost weight to transform into his character Abang in acclaimed film Abang Adik.

The 41-year-old actor’s emotional performance as a deaf-mute brother won Best Actor in November at the 60th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.

Directed by Jin Ong, the film follows the struggle of two undocumented brothers as they try to get their citizenship.

The film earned nine nominations at the Golden Horse Awards and has won awards in film festivals in New York, Italy and Switzerland.

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Wu delved into his process of getting into his character which involved dieting, sun-tanning and learning directly from stateless people in wet markets of Pudu where the film is set.

“When I came to shoot the film a year and half ago, I had to slim down to what you see in the film so I wasn’t able to eat any good food.” Wu said at a press conference yesterday (December 11).

“Playing a deaf-mute character and learning ‘Malaysian sign language’ was a challenge. But playing a stateless person and walking in their shoes is a bigger one.”

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“It was important for me to step into their shoes and understand their daily struggles by working, eating and getting to know them.”

He added that he wanted to improve his acting skills by portraying Abang in the most organic way possible, even naturally sun-bathing his skin to a darker shade for the role.

Wu joked that now as he returned to Malaysia for film promotions, he ‘could finally eat’ local delicacies like nasi lemak.

‘Abang Adik’ stars Wu Kang-ren and Jack Tan formed an inseparable bond playing brothers onscreen. — Picture courtesy of More Entertainment
‘Abang Adik’ stars Wu Kang-ren and Jack Tan formed an inseparable bond playing brothers onscreen. — Picture courtesy of More Entertainment

Co-star Jack Tan, who plays Abang’s younger sibling Adik, said that Wu’s effort inspired him to also put in more work to become his character.

Contrasting to Abang’s slender build, Adik’s character let Tan put on weight and dye his hair to deliver an equally powerful performance against Wu.

Tan joked that he ate ‘all I wanted’, saying that he gained around eight kilogrammes for the role.

Wu told Malay Mail that he took pride in being part of a Malaysian production and was glad to see it performing well in Taiwan, earning US$40 million (RM186 million) in 10 days.

“I’m proud that the film has become the top one or two films in Taiwan now. This will put Malaysian films in the spotlight there and hopefully internationally,” he said.

“I hope audiences around the world will be able to see the love portrayed between the brothers in the film and be moved by its story.”

Abang Adik will premiere in Malaysian cinemas on December 14.