Jae Liew lost her voice during filming for 'I Not Stupid 3', had to voice record certain scenes while in Japan

A+ for dedication.

Celeste Ng | July 03, 2024, 12:13 PM



Since its release earlier this month, Jack Neo's third instalment of his popular film series 'I Not Stupid' has sparked quite the hype for our local entertainment scene.

One of the show's stars yet, ironically, perhaps the furthest from the buzz is Singaporean actress Jae Liew, who currently resides in Japan.

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A post shared by Jae Liew | 柳胜美 (@jae7iew)

In the film, the actress takes on the role of Sophia, a tiger mum who places an excessive importance on academic excellence for her son Jayden.

This emphasis on stellar grades eventually evolves into behaviour bordering on abuse, though viewers later learn that this is a result of the generational trauma she grapples with herself.

As one of the few characters in the film I felt actually had depth, I was curious: How did Liew manage to play the role so convincingly, despite not being a mother herself?

'I had to fight every moral fibre of my being'

If you've watched the movie and felt like it triggered war flashbacks you've long since buried in the nooks of your memory, you're not alone.

I watched the film about one month ago, and felt the scenes that stuck with me most were the ones of Liew vehemently berating her son.

Some scenes even showed her wielding one of the most fear-inducing weapons known to any Singaporean child; a cane.

When asked about how it was like having to get into character, Liew admitted ruefully that it was an internal struggle for her.

"I had to fight every moral fibre of my being to do [my character] justice.

I think the vision that was originally pitched to me about her was that she was supposed to be a tiger mum, but to what degree we didn't quite say at the start.

When it got to that point on set where I realised that they were looking for an abusive mum, and when I realised I had to physically hit the child and everything... Initially, I thought that we could get away with just, you know, lightly hitting, maybe.

But then when I realised I had to really lay hands on him, every day was a struggle."

Liew with onscreen son Camans Kong (centre) and onscreen husband Collin Chee (left). Photo from Liew's Instagram page.

Naturally, we asked if these scenes had affected her offscreen relationship with her onscreen son, played by Malaysian child actor Camans Kong.

To this, Liew chuckled, "Judging by his very loving comments on Instagram, I think he's fine."

Comments left by Kong on Liew's Instagram page. Screenshots from Liew's Instagram page.

Lost her voice while filming

Liew moved to Japan shortly after the film's production concluded mid 2023.

Jokingly, she recounted looking forward to leaving her character behind in Singapore, and moving to Japan without what she refers to as her "tiger mum baggage".

Photo from Liew's Instagram page.

Her peace, however, was short-lived.

"Occasionally, there would be messages from Jack, and he'd be like, 'Hey, we need you to ADR this scene,'" Liew recalled.

If you're unfamiliar, ADR stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement, which involves recording dialogue after filming to replace the lines originally recorded on set.

The actress explained that this was because she had lost her voice while filming, because of all the yelling her role required.

"I had to do it via WhatsApp, oh god," Liew laughed.

"Every time I had to do the ADR, I would have [a] quilt over my head, because the walls in Japan are very thin. If I started yelling, they'd probably think I was really abusing a child in my house. So. I had that quilt, and I would do the ADR, and then I would throw off the blanket and feel like, 'Oh my god, this was not supposed to happen.'

I was supposed to have done everything with Sophia [in Singapore] already, and been done with it. Why did [she] follow me [to Japan]?"

Thinking back on that entire episode, Liew wistfully deemed it one of her "core memories on set".

Photo from Liew's Instagram page.

"This is all we have," she said, pointing at her throat, before adding, "It reminded me of how much I don't like to raise my voice."

Her takeaways from the show

Being a film meant to spark discourse on education and parenting in Singapore, those who have watched "I Not Stupid 3" should, more likely than not, have had something to take away from it.

But what about for those who were a part of the movie itself?

Having played (debatably) the most unlikeable character in the film, Liew left us with a parting nugget of wisdom:

"People are not inherently good or bad. Some of them carry stuff from their past, and for us to make snap judgments of people based on what we see on the surface would be unfair."

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Top photos via mm2 Entertainment and Jae Liew's Instagram page.