'Naughty' duo did it for Neo

Would you brave leeches for the sake of a 25-year-old friendship?

Local veteran Xinyao singer Dawn Gan did exactly that when she agreed to star in hit local film We Not Naughty (WNN) at the request of director and old friend Jack Neo.

Fellow Xinyao performer Roy Loi, who has known Gan and Neo for more than two decades, also chipped in, transforming himself into a crude Hokkien-spouting Ah Long in the movie against his will.

Gan and Loi, who started the Xinyao music movement in the early 90s, made their acting debuts in WNN. And it has paid off.

Not only did they steal scenes from their younger co-stars, they also helped WNN hold its spot as the top-grossing Chinese movie this year - earning $1.3 million at the local box office since opening on Jan 19.

Gan: Afraid of leeches

Gan, who's in her 40s, told The New Paper that in one scene her character is knocked out so she had to lie on the jungle floor for hours.

"Then I found out after a while that another co-star had been bitten by three leeches and his stomach felt so cold as the leeches were sucking the blood there.

"Jack was also bitten, but I had to complete my scene so I continued to lie there. Thank goodness that during all those hours no leeches found me."

Gan plays the upbeat wealthy mother of two boys (Joshua Ang and Amos Yee) whose catchphrase is "think positive".

The national sales director of cosmetic brand Mary Kay in Hong Kong, where she resides with her husband, two sons and daughter, said that one of the big reasons she took the role was her kids.

Gan said that they urged her to star in "Uncle Jack's" film as they were familiar with I Not Stupid.

According to Gan, I Not Stupid is widely used in Hong Kong classrooms during Chinese lessons to teach children to have the "right morals and values".

Said Gan: "My children are so proud that I starred in We Not Naughty. I'm glad that I agreed to do the film too as each day on set was a riot because it's fantastic to work with old friends.

"We (the cast) had a picnic every day," she said, because the van to locations would be filled with food like nasi lemak, noodles and meat dishes.

This article was first published in The New Paper.