Multi-talented Lee set to make headlines with new starring role in local movie ‘Headlines’.
Not content with already juggling three different roles as a university lecturer, a 988 radio deejay and a television host, Malaysian media personality Sean Lee Chee Chew can now add “actor” to his portfolio, having snagged his first feature film starring role in local Chinese horror movie Headlines.
Headlines is Lee’s second movie role – his first was a cameo in The Transcend, also produced by Headlines director James Wong Chee Keong. Scheduled for release in March or April next year, the movie is an anthology of two spooky stories, one starring Lee as a paper effigy craftsman, and the other starring Singapore-based Malaysian actor Shaun Chen (The Wedding Diary 1 & 2) as a taxi driver.
During a press conference held late last month after principal photography concluded, Lee said that although he likes ghost stories, he had none of his own to tell.
“I really like listening to ghost stories, although I do find them scary. Unfortunately, unlike others, I don’t have spooky tales of my own to share,” offered Lee, who portrays a paper effigy craftsman, one who makes paper replicas of items that people burn as offerings to appease otherworldly beings.
Wong was inspired to make Headlines after reading local newspaper headlines of major incidents and unsolved cases in recent years. Keen to make his mark as a horror specialist, the 42-year-old actor-turned-director is taking a realistic approach with Headlines and hopes the movie would highlight the problems faced by society and serve as a reminder to the public.
“Even though this is a supernatural flick, the ghosts in the movie are kindlier this time around,” said Wong during the press conference.
A regular on Singaporean TV dramas, Chen said he was attracted by the “thrilling headlines” in the script, hence his decision to return to Malaysia to film the movie. Describing his character as a dirty and uncouth cabbie, the 35-year-old actor said: “The character is a roguish fellow who has had a bad start and a tough break in life. I’ve never played a cabbie, but the ones I’ve met mostly really love to talk and discuss news headlines.”
Lee said he agreed to work with Wong again as he was impressed with how their previous collaboration, The Transcend, turned out. “When the director approached me again, I said yes without even asking what the movie was about. How was I to know that I would end up in another horror movie, and portraying a paper effigy craftsman to boot!”
At first, Lee was concerned he would not look convincing enough for the part, as most of the paper effigy craftsman were old men. “But as I put on my costume and started to work on brushing on the glue and pasting together the paper figures, I began to feel like an artisan working on a lifelong craft.
“To many, it’s a creepy vocation. I was always expecting something to happen, especially when we were filming eerie scenes in the shop all night until six in the morning.But nothing ever happened, and I never experienced anything,” lamented Lee, 49, whose part took six days to film.
Lee also did a live narrative sequence for his part, which he was happy with as it was his area of expertise. “As someone who works with his voice, I feel that it is a crucial part of acting.
“When I watch movies where an actor’s voice is dubbed, I find it too distracting because the voiceover is usually lacking,” explained Lee.
Life of Lee
Lee grew up listening to Hong Kong and Cantonese radio shows on Rediffusion Cable Network Malaysia and loved them so much that he eventually started his broadcasting career there in 1991. He then moved on to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 1995 and then Sydney Australian Chinese Radio in 1996, while he was furthering his studies in Australia. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication and a master’s degree in International Communication.
Upon his return to Malaysia, the suave radio announcer joined 988 (the renamed Rediffusion) as a part-time deejay spinning oldies, and took on a hosting job with ntv7 where he helmed Cantonese entertainment magazines like e-access and e-space.
Lee is currently hosting two weekly radio shows on 988 (Remember The Time… and PS Friday), and lectures at Taylor’s University and LimKokWing University College of Creative Technology. The avid traveller has also previously taught at One World Hanxing College of Journalism & Communication, A Cut Above Academy and KDU College.
The first thing people notice about Lee when they meet him is that he doesn’t seem to have changed in the past 20 years. Set to celebrate his 50th birthday next year, Lee can easily pass off for someone half his age.
So what is his secret to staying young?
“Many have asked me the same thing. I think it may be mainly my genes,” said Lee.
As someone with a self-confessed obsession with his teeth, Lee expressed a fondness for oil-pulling (a folk remedy for promoting oral health by swishing oil between the teeth).
“You have to start by doing 20-minutes of oil-pulling using organic coconut oil, first thing in the morning right after you get out of bed. Then, you can choose whether or not you want to brush your teeth, because organic oil is very healthy in any case,” explained Lee.
“After that, you can drink two glasses of warm water. Wait for awhile, then you can eat some fruit. Experts say, eating fruit on an empty stomach is best for optimum absorption. I usually eat dragon fruit, kiwi and oranges, followed by a bowl of cereal,” said the ever-youthful media practitioner, who also swears by the generous use of toner for his blemish-free complexion. He also hits the gym at least three times a week, so it was not a problem when the director wanted him to take off his shirt for his role.
Listen to Lee
Sean Lee currently hosts two programmes on 988:
Remember The Time…
A retro music show spinning the hit songs of the eighties and nineties. Has weekly theme and often plays English songs as well. (facebook.com/988.remember)
A casual chat show co-hosted with Lim Tok Peng that sends out positive vibes and happy messages to help listeners unwind after a long week at work. PS stands for Postscript, as well as the initials of the two deejays: Peng and Sean. (facebook.com/988.psfriday)
To listen to these shows, tune in to 988fm, or visit 988.com.my.