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Fri, Nov 02, 2012
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'I have never looked this ugly': Ann Kok
by Charlene Chua

Pretty, sexy and sweet are words that have been used to describe her.

So it was no wonder that the other actresses in the make-up room were hesitant to speak to the lady with the horrific make-up and wig.

The lady kept quiet on purpose, knowing full well that they had no idea that she was local actress Ann Kok.

That was how shocking Kok's transformation was as she took on her first "ugly role" in her TV career, which has spanned a two decades.

In upcoming Channel 8 drama It Takes Two, Kok plays Vivian, the daughter of a karung guni (rag-and-bone) woman who grows up to be socially unaware.

Her character is crass, dirty, ill-mannered and even farts in public.

It was no easy task for the gentle, mild-mannered babe. Kok, 39, told The New Paper: "I have never looked this ugly or dirty on-screen before, so I would say that I was suffering a little!

"But I was excited to take on the challenge."

She added: "Not only does my character not bathe and have a bad case of dandruff, she also says things like she needs to eat a banana as she hasn't gone to the toilet yet."

Kok revealed that her character has bad table manners, always speaking with her mouth full.

"As Vivian, I also had to eat things and have them fall out of my mouth as I spoke."

Looking the part of an unkempt person who sports ghastly make-up, Kok insisted on doing her own make-up "as the make-up artist would still make me look a little too polished".

Her dedication to her craft was especially felt in Geylang, where the cast was filming the show.

Once, after filming wrapped, Kok recounted how she didn't have time to remove her make-up and ventured to buy cherries from an unassuming fruit seller.

The poor auntie took her order but continued to stare at her.

Halloween look

Added Kok, with a laugh: "I kept saying 'Auntie, my bus is coming soon so please hurry up and give me the cherries!'.

"She just stood rooted to the spot for the longest time.

"As I roll around in my Heelys (shoes with wheels) on the show as well, let's just say you wouldn't want to run into me at night or on Halloween!"

Her transformation would take half an hour daily.

The first step was getting the make-up right, and that included lots of dark eye shadow and a ton of red lipstick drawn outside the contours of the eyes and lips respectively.

In the show, Vivian's mum, who was a former make-up artiste, insists on painting her daughter's face daily.

But due to a tumour in her brain, she ends up making Vivian look more supernatural than human.

Kok said that although she had to don a wig, it was used only for the back of her head so her real hair was exposed in the front.

To create the look of unsightly dandruff, oatmeal and hair gel were mixed together and stuck on her hair.

Black powder was also used in abundance to make sure she had dirty fingernails.

"In real life, although I can be rather messy, I'm actually a clean person," proclaimed Kok.

"I love having my nails manicured, so that was something that I really missed doing for a few months."

She added: "Having to eat things like fish fillet and smearing the tartare sauce all over my mouth on the show also took some getting used to.

"I remember how every day after filming, I would wipe my make-up off in a hurry because I didn't want to be seen in public like this!"

Kok's character only cleans up her act towards the end of the series, after she meets a loan shark (played by local actor Zheng Geping) and realises that the man of her dreams wants a "normal" woman.

She said that in contrast, her most classy role was that of a businesswoman in Channel 8 drama La Femme (2008).

And like Hollywood actresses Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, who won their Oscars for going "ugly" - Theron for Monster (2003) and Kidman in The Hours (2002) - Kok revealed that she would be over the moon if she earns a nomination at the Star Awards for her efforts.

Said Kok: "Like Vivian, people who may seem ugly to you at first will look cute eventually because they have good hearts.

"To me, it's what's on the inside that's ultimately the most important."

How Kok rates against other 'ugly' beauties

Will Ann Kok be the most memorable babe gone "ugly" on local TV?

We give her a 9/10 on the ugly meter for her hideous visage in upcoming Channel 8 drama It Takes Two.

Here are three other actresses who have gone down the same path and taken on "ugly" roles.

Fann Wong

Her transformation to "beast" meant going bare-faced and sporting a huge birthmark that was painted on her face for her 2007 Channel 8 drama Switched!

The TV series tells the story of how two sisters - one ugly (Wong) and one pretty (Jeanette Aw) - fall in love with the same guy (Shaun Chen).

Of course, as with character stereotypes, the ugly sister is kind while the pretty one is arrogant. All hell breaks loose when a car accident creates the opportunity for a genie to help them switch bodies.

Honestly, Wong, 41, looked more plain than grotesque.

And with dewy skin to begin with, going bare-faced hardly affected her looks.

We say: Try for something more drastic next time!

Ugly meter rating: 5/10

Joanne Peh

Whoa, who's that frightening auntie?

Now, the way Joanne Peh morphed into a 54-year-old former prostitute deserves a standing ovation.

In the 180-episode Channel 8 drama Your Hand In Mine (2009), Peh played the roles of both mother and daughter.

As the mother character, the 28-year-old actress had to age almost three decades with the help of make-up and prosthetics.

The extreme makeover included fake wrinkles, freckles and a scar running down the side of her face.

Peh also had to don a curly-haired wig, false teeth and a body suit to "fatten" her chest, back and hips.

Reminiscent of Charlize Theron's transformation in Hollywood movie Monster (2003) - who coincidentally also played a former prostitute - it's a pity Peh didn't win Best Actress at the Star Awards last year.

Ugly meter rating: 8/10

Felicia Chin

Boy, did she look like one - a boy that is.

As local TV's sweetheart and arguably the pin-up girl of many young male viewers in Singapore, Felicia Chin broke many hearts when she decided to harness her masculinity on-screen in 2009.

Her transformation in Channel 8 drama The Ultimatum was so believable that Chin recalled in a previous interview that she was chased out of the female toilet by a disgruntled auntie during a filming break.

Chin, 28, had to wear two undersized sports bras to flatten her chest.

She also wore a shaggy, short wig and swapped her usual dresses for polo tees and jeans.

Her naturally fair skin was slapped with dark-coloured foundation, as were her neck and arms, so that she would acquire a manly tan.

In the show, Chin's character had to disguise herself as a man so that she could learn gambling tricks from a professional (Li Nanxing).

Was she that ugly? Not really.

But like Hilary Swank in her Oscar-winning film Boys Don't Cry (1999), Chin wins hands down for being totally believable as a boy.

Ugly meter rating: 6/10

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