Channel NewsAsia

Jesseca Liu, Jacko Chiang bring back the dead in new film

Actress Jesseca Liu shares her thoughts on playing a mother for the first time and working with Taiwan actor-host Jacko Chiang in her upcoming film Bring Back The Dead, about a woman who tries to bring back the soul of her dead son.

SINGAPORE: While all her previous films have something to do with ghosts and the supernatural, actress Jesseca Liu’s upcoming new film Bring Back The Dead is more than just your standard horror flick.

“In the past, my films focused on ghosts and supernatural horror elements. This film is sort of a family drama in a horror film wrapper, and focuses on the bond between a parent and a child, as well as what happens when they are torn apart. It is very different,” said Liu enthusiastically on Friday (Aug 15) at a special media event for the film.

Directed by Malaysian filmmaker Lee Thean-jeen, Bring Back The Dead sees Liu play Jia En, a mother who finally manages to have a son with her husband De Wei (Jacko Chiang), after suffering two miscarriages.

When their son dies in an accident, Jia En engages the help of her friend Madam Seetoh (Liu Ling Ling) and Master Chen (Yang Tian Fu) to summon the spirit of her dead son and keep him by her side. But their attempt to bring back the dead also brings unexpected consequences.


Liu revealed that her management agency had actually wanted her to think twice before taking the role in Bring Back The Dead, which is now in post-production and will be released either later this year or early next year.

“All my films have been about ghosts. They were worried that I’d become typecast as a sort of ‘Queen of Ghosts’. It’s also the first time I play a mother of a child this old. My agency was wondering if it’s too early for me to start playing motherly roles. I really never thought about any of this. I took the role because I heard about the director before, that he is very talented,” said Jesseca Liu.

She added that she found it interesting to explore the deep emotional bond Jia En shares with her son, and that it wasn’t too difficult to play a mother in Bring Back The Dead, even though she has no children.

“I’ve been a ‘mother’ for eight years now. I have two cats. I treat my cats like my sons so I just think about how I’d feel if my cats died and used those emotions to play the character,” said the 35-year-old actress with a smile.

“The production team also made it very easy to get into character. There was one scene where we (she and Chiang) attend the funeral of our child. Lee shrouded the altar in black cloth and only let us approach the altar when it was time to shoot. Once the cloth came off, the feeling [of loss] came naturally and you became your character. I was actually quite amazed because even the extras there were genuinely crying due to the setting.”


Chiang had nothing but praise for Liu and especially admired her ability to cry on cue in the S$1.1 million film, which is based on a short story by writer Wong Swee Hoon.

“She is really good at crying! She can hold her tears in her eyes, she can shed one tear from her left eye, shed tears from both eyes, make her eyes look red as though she had been crying or just turn around and let the tears flow!” said Chiang.

“I have seen video clips of her before online, but it’s not the same as meeting her in person. Her eyes have this power to bring you into her character’s world and make you feel everything that is happening on set is real.”

The 42-year-old Taiwanese actor-host said working with Liu in Bring Back The Dead had been a great experience, but joked that it may get him into trouble with his wife.

“When I got the script, my wife asked if there were any intimate scenes in it. I said I don’t know because I only had half of the script at the time. She asked me who my co-star was and I told her ‘Jesseca Liu’. So she went online to search for her name and a video clip of her in a bikini came up.

“Then, during my first meeting with the director, he said the film was a supernatural thriller and that there were no intimate scenes in it. So I told my wife there weren’t any intimate scenes.

“She said ‘That’s good. You’re dead if there are any intimate scenes!’ And ... they changed the script! They added an intimate scene to flesh out the story,” said Chiang with a laugh.

“I hope she doesn’t have time to catch the film when it’s released!”

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia