When Jack Neo debuted a movie about a bunch of NS recruits back in 2012, none of us had an inkling that it would grow to become Singapore’s most profitable movie franchise. We caught up with the tight-knit group of actors and learnt that five years and four movies later, these ah boys didn’t just become men – they’ve become bona fide movie stars.
Photography: Veronica Tay
Art Direction: Leong Li Yuan
Fashion Direction: Janice Pidduck
Styling: Amanda Tan
Fashion Assistant: Jet Han
Hair and Makeup: Leny Fu/PaletteInc using YSL Hair and Keune Haircosmetics
Editorial Assistant: Cheryl Lim
On Kishan. J: Textured skinny fit suit – blazer, $169, trousers, $89.90, vest, $89.90, and cotton polyester shirt, $53.90, all from Topman, Grandino watch from SWATCH, $245, Leather lace up formal shoes from Pedro, $129.90.
On Tosh: Navy checked suit – blazer, $279, trousers, $109, and vest, $89, all from G2000, Polyester mix shirt from H&M, $74.95, Leather oxford boots from Pedro, $159.90.
On Noah: Black spray on suit – blazer, $169, trousers, $89.90, floral embroidered cotton polyester shirt, $79.90, and silk tie, $19.90, all from Topman, Stolfi patent leather formal shoes from Aldo, $189, Hat, stylist’s own.
On Maxi: Checked suit – blazer, $379, trousers, $129, and pleated tuxedo shirt, $89, all from G2000, Silk bow-tie from Topman, $26.90, Sistem Dark watch from SWATCH, $279, Italian oiled leather belt from Uniqlo, $39.90, Leather lace up formal shoes from Pedro, $129.90.
On Weiliang: Textured slim fit suit – blazer, $119, trousers, $119, and vest, $89.90, all from Topman, Polyester mix shirt from H&M, $74.95, Leather oxford shoes from Pedro, $133.90, Watch, model’s own.
From left to right.
On Tosh: Wool blend long coat, H&M. Heattech fleece mock neck top, $19.90, Uniqlo. Polyester high-waisted belted trousers, $94.95, H&M. Leather oxford boots, $159.90, Pedro.
On Weiliang: Slim fit knit blazer, $295, Massimo Dutti. Essential cotton-blend sweater, $39.90, Mango. Polyester rayon pinstripe relaxed ankle length trousers, $49.90, Uniqlo. Jarrett sneakers, $129, Aldo. Watch, model’s own.
On Maxi: Hunter perforated leather jacket, $269, Truckee denim shirt, $119, and Miami denim skinny jeans, $129, all GUESS. Aradowen Chelsea boots, $229, Aldo. Italian oiled leather belt, $39.90, Uniqlo.
From left to right.
On Kishan. J: Muscle fit suit jacket, $249, Topman. Cotton crew neck tee, $24.95, and denim jeans, $64.95, both H&M.
On Noah: Slub knit pique blazer, $119, ZARA. Only & Sons
Alex turtle neck knitted jumper, $39, Zalora.sg. Polyester rayon pinstripe relaxed ankle length trousers, $49.90, Uniqlo. Hat, stylist’s own.
When you signed up for the first movie, did you have any idea it was going to be such a huge franchise?
Wang Weiliang: To be honest, we were very unsure of how it would be received. We were all newbies, so we didn’t know if people would come and watch us. So we were all very surprised by the reception it received.
Tosh Zhang: At that time, we were already making plans for our lives after the movie. Weiliang was going to go back to doing getai shows, Maxi was going to do short films, and I was planning to go to university.
So you guys never really thought about furthering your careers as actors after the film? You just saw it as a one-off thing?
Weiliang: Yeah. When we were filming, we talked about what we’d do if the movie didn’t do well. (points at Maxi) He said he’ll give up acting and go find a “proper job”.
What was your backup plan, Maxi?
Weiliang: (interrupting) He doesn’t have any qualifications, he’d probably be selling chicken rice lah.
Maxi Lim: (laughs) I’ll be the guy asking if you want to add extra meat, rice, or egg.
The Ah Boys to Men (ABTM) movies are some of the highest-earning Singaporean films. Was there ever an “I’ve made it” moment?
Weiliang: I don’t think I’ve made it yet leh.
Weiliang: I mean, we get recognised on the street, but I don’t think we’ve truly made it yet. We’ve only been doing this for five years; we’ve still got a long way to go. I don’t think we’ve peaked yet.
Tosh: For our first meet-and-greet, there were more people on stage than in the audience. It was held at Plaza Singapura, a week before the gala premiere. It was the most pathetic meet-and-greet ever because the audience was just our parents and sisters.
Weiliang: I think there were only three or four strangers!
Maxi: Yeah, they were just shopping and happened to passed by.
Tosh: But two months later, we had an event at Bugis+. We could hear screams from our car, even before we reached the venue. And when we got on stage, we saw thousands of people.
Weiliang: More than three thousand. I was like, “Are you guys really here to see us?” But to be honest, that moment felt really good.
Tosh: At one point, we looked at each other and were like, “Bro, is this real? This is so crazy!”