As news broke of Aloysius Pang's passing following a military training accident, celebrities took to social media in an outpouring of grief – a testament to how popular Pang was among his colleagues, despite being a reserved and quiet individual.
The loss has hit his close friends within the industry especially hard.
"I'm still unable to accept it," said Ian Fang, who, at 29, was close to Pang in age. He became fast friends with Pang, 28, when they starred in the 2014 drama Served H.O.T., alongside Shane Pow.
“Tears were just rolling down my cheeks,” another of his close friends, Desmond Tan, told CNA Lifestyle on Thursday (Jan 24). “This morning when I woke up, my eyes were swollen. I was still hoping that it was just a dream.
“He was a genius actor,” Tan said.
“He was very sensitive to detail and observed things around him. He had an X-factor about him. He nailed every single role.
"Sometimes, when I'm flipping channels and I see him on screen, I would stop to see what he had to offer. And I looked forward to working with him because he would come up with things we might not even have thought about. When I would read the script, I would expect him to perform a certain way, but he would deviate from what was written and deepen the characterisation, which I think is amazing.”
Tan recalled: "The first time I worked with him was in Against The Tide. We didn’t have many scenes together but we were sharing locations, so we were chatting off set. He had just joined the industry and was pretty new. I watched his performance and it was mind-blowing. So, after his shots, I said, ‘You are so awesome. Keep it up. As long as you hold on to this passion and persevere, you will get very good results in future.’ It was a passing statement I had totally forgotten about. Then, when we were working on Dream Coder, he reminded me that these were the things I had told him then, and how they had helped and encouraged him a lot.”
He added: “The spirit he left with us, and the lesson to cherish our loved ones more, will go a long way.”
Through tears, Fang told CNA Lifestyle that he was "heartbroken".
"Before he flew to New Zealand, I was at his house. We were drinking and eating. He thought I should have stayed longer," Fang shared. "I said: ‘We will do this again when you’re back.’ That was supposed to have happened tomorrow.”
As one of his best friends in the industry, Pang was always there to give support and advice, Fang said. “There was a period of time when I was feeling quite down, and also financially very unstable. I don’t like to trouble my friends much. But he came to my house and kept me company for 12 hours. Because we’re guys, we didn’t talk much about our emotions, but I felt so comforted.”
“One thing I want to say is that he had a lot of things he wanted to do. As a friend, I will try to fulfill all his wishes,” Fang said, sharing that Pang had written about six to eight scripts.
“I will try to make those happen; to shoot them. He also wrote a rap in English. He wanted to give it to me. I hope to produce it.
“We will help him to finish all the things he left undone.”