updated 19 Jul 2014, 00:53
Login password or
Tue, Mar 26, 2013
The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Don't break his heart, girls

He may be a hunk, but Ah Boys To Men actor Joshua Tan was cheated on by a girlfriend and is still feeling the sting

Hunky actor and Cleo's Most Eligible Bachelor 2013 Joshua Tan once had his heart "completely broken" by a girl.

Speaking to SundayLife! over the telephone from Melbourne, where he is now studying, Tan, 22, says frankly of his last girlfriend: "She had gone overseas to study, and cheated on me with another guy there. It took me more than a year to move on from that actually. That wasn't an easy time for me at all."

Interestingly, his story mirrors the relationship issues faced by his character in the hugely popular two-part movie Ah Boys To Men, which launched Tan and the rest of the fresh-faced young cast to fame since opening in cinemas. The two films are the two highest-grossing local movies of all time: Part 1, released in November last year, took in $6.2 million; Part 2, released last month, has grossed $7.83 million as of Thursday night.

In the movies, Tan plays the lead role of national service army recruit Ken Chow, who is dumped by his girlfriend after she leaves to study overseas.

Haunting memories from his own real-life experience have also made him a little worried about his current relationship with a 21-year-old student, whom he has been dating for two years.

She lives in Singapore, while he has been away in Australia for the past two months, doing a bachelor's degree in communications, journalism and history at Monash University. They catch up through phone calls and social media.

"Don't remind me that this is a long-distance relationship. I've been stung by the last long-distance relationship already. It's tough doing this, but I want to be in this for the long term," says the 1.75m-tall Tan, who was crowned Most Eligible Bachelor out of a pool of 50 men at an event held at club Zouk last weekend.

Organised by Cleo magazine, the contest aims to find the hottest yet-to-be-married guy in Singapore. Results are decided via public fan votes.

He declined to let this reporter speak to his girlfriend, whom he had met during football training one day at Singapore Polytechnic, the school that she plays for. Tan, a Ngee Ann Polytechnic mass communications diploma-holder, had been a member of Ngee Ann's football team then.

"Normally, I would be okay with it and I'm very open about having a girlfriend, but I'm taking a leaf out of Tosh's book and trying to shield her a bit more," he says, referring to his Ah Boys To Men co-star Tosh Zhang, 24.

"He said that he wants to make sure his girlfriend is kept out of the harsh media limelight, and I think I should too," he adds, a tad sheepishly.

"There have been some really nasty comments online about my girlfriend recently, where people call her names such as 'slut' and 'whore', and I want to protect her from that."

To date, he has had "let's just say, less than 10" girlfriends since his first at the age of 13. He had his first kiss when he was 16, though it was hardly romantic.

"It was weird - both of us had never kissed before. We didn't know where to put our heads and it was just very awkward. There's no such thing as a fairy-tale first kiss like in the movies," he says with a laugh.

On what type of boyfriend he is, he says: fuss-free.

"I'm easygoing, and I don't like it when girls wear too much make-up. I like chilling at places that are not too crowded, and I guess I'm a homely sort."

Girls who are tardy irk him though.

"I don't have a lot of demands as a boyfriend but I get really cranky when a girl is late for a date, like more than 15 minutes late. It's because I always pride myself on being on time - usually," he says with a laugh.

The middle child of a manager father and lecturer mother, Tan has an older sister, 26; and a younger sister, 18.

Born in Melbourne, the Australian citizen and Singapore permanent resident came here at the age of two, when his parents moved here for work.

He attended Fairfield Methodist Primary and Secondary School, before going to Ngee Ann Polytechnic and then serving national service as a platoon sergeant.

After the army, he was supposed to start university in Australia, but deferred for a year in order to accommodate the 70 days of shooting for Ah Boys To Men from July to September last year.

Tan, who snagged the lead after attending an open audition, says: "I've always wanted to try my hand at acting, so I thought I'd give the audition a shot. Even if they offered me a smaller role, I would have taken it and deferred my studies because an opportunity like this doesn't come by often."

His gamble has paid off.

The movie has made him something of an idol. His Facebook page now has close to 15,400 likes. His fan club Joshicated has about 1,000 members and the club's Twitter account has more than 3,200 followers.

But fans are not only stalking him online - they are taking it on the streets as well.

"I've been followed on the streets before, but luckily I walk very fast and I lose them really quickly.

"But the majority of my fans are really great because they very sweetly make gifts for me and send me letters. I always tell them I like handwritten letters the best because they are more personal and it doesn't cost them any money to write them. If they buy me too many gifts, I always worry that they will run out of pocket money and not have money to buy food during recess in school."

Though the majority of his fans are, understandably, eager pre-teen girls, he says that there are slightly older admirers too.

On a recent flight from Australia to Singapore, the stewardesses could not stop chatting with him.

"They recognised me and we chatted, and they even gave me some plane souvenirs. They told me that I could watch Ah Boys To Men on the plane, which I did actually," he recalls with a chuckle.

Even in Melbourne, people have stopped him on the street to ask to take a photo with him.

"Not all of them are Singaporean," he says, sounding amused. "There have been Malaysians and Chinese people too."

The massive success of the movies has also opened the doors to modelling. He has done a print advertisement for spa and skincare centre Beaute Hub, while another one for Singapore Airlines will be out later this year.

Ask how he maintains his wash-board abs and toned biceps, and he says his fitness regimen is simple.

"I have regular football training, and I try to go to the gym thrice a week if I'm not lazy. But I am a very firm believer in not using any supplements such as protein shakes or any sorts of stimulants.

"Anyway, I've always believed in letting myself eat whatever I want because I would always burn it off."

While he says that the occasional modelling gig is "fun", what he really wants is to act. After Ah Boys To Men, he has secured a supporting role in HBO Asia's first original TV drama Serangoon Road, as well as a part in an episode of Channel 5's docu-drama Cradle Of Life.

Declining to reveal details, he says that there are a number of other script offers waiting for him in Singapore.

"The producers are trying to see if they can work the filming schedule around my school holidays," he adds.

When he graduates 11/2 years from now, he plans to return to Singapore and pursue acting full-time.

"I've just grown to really love it, and I think acting has become my true passion. I'm always hopeful for more acting jobs, and I know I'll work as hard as I can."

Read also:
» Joshua Tan wants to be a young father
» Boxers or briefs? I like to go commando

[email protected]

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.


readers' comments

Copyright © 2014 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.