As one of Netflix's first Mandarin-language original series production, The Ghost Bride (彼岸之嫁) is based on the novel of the same name written by Malaysian writer Yangsze Choo. The story sets in the 1890s Melaka, telling the tale of Li Lan, a young girl who refuses the ordinary and dreams to see the world, caught up in supernatural turns in life.
‘Romance is the backbone of this story,’ said the directors during The Ghost Bride press conference, while Malaysian cultural heritage, fantasies and Asian superstitions takes centre stage as the captivating factors of this chronicle.
To recreate the space and time, The Ghost Bride was entirely filmed in Malaysia and brought to life by a stellar cross country production team – Taiwanese-American scriptwriter Kai Wu, Malaysian directors Yuhang Ho and Shio Chuan Quek; lead actors Pei Jia Huang, Kang Jen Wu, Ludi Lin, Kuang Tian and Malaysian cast Angeline Tan, Susan Leong, Jordan Voon, Wilson Tin and Jojo Goh.
In The Ghost Bride, Li Lan is whisked into a series of supernatural events after making a deal with the devil – Tian Ching the deceased heir of Lim family – to trade for her father's soul. Meanwhile, a mysterious guy Er Lang comes into Li Lan's life.
“There's a prince charming and an evil, Er Lang is neither of them, he plays by his own rules," said Kang Jen Wu, who plays the unpredictable guardian from heaven.
L'Officiel Malaysia caught up with Pei Jia Huang, Kang Jen Wu and Jordan Voon from the cast as they talked about The Ghost Bride, Malaysia and Netflix:
How do you think The Ghost Bride and your respective characters mirror our time?
Pei Jia: The story sets in the 19th Century, young girls were told to get married and serve the family and those gender barriers still remain in our generation. But Li Lan wants a different life, the urge to see the world has taught her to be fearless.
Jordan Voon: I think The Ghost Bride gives us a flashback to our heritage. At the same time, it shows a twist of traditional perception where Li Lan is the heroine to her family. We know that it isn't common in Oriental tales to put the spotlight on a female character.
Kang Jen: Er Lang comes from heaven and he is not a stranger to us, he exists in our culture and beliefs. To me, Er Lang is The Ghost Birde's equilibrium, we can't talk about ghost without a deity, and with the good comes the bad.
What sets The Ghost Bride apart from other supernatural stories?
Kang Jen: From Li Lan perspective, we explore everything, from family to generation and feminine consciousness, the way how her personalities drove the story allows the audience to digest and ponder. From the directors' narration to characters and even art direction, The Ghost Bride gives a sense of realness for people to believe and enter the world of fantasy.
Pei Jia: I think people who grow up in the East can really relate to the story because of the cultural presence in the show. While people from different regions can also learn about our culture through The Ghost Bride.
The Ghost Bride marks one of the biggest cross-country productions among Netflix's Mandarin-language original series trio, what was the challenge on set?
Kang Jen & Pei Jia: The Breakfast!
Kang Jen: We had nasi lemak every morning, we love it and we always pile up our plate with dishes. But very soon we realised nasi lemak is not a good idea during filming, we kept going to loo. Other than that, we truly enjoyed filming in Malaysia and working with everyone on set.
Tell us your thoughts on how Netflix has changed storytelling in TV and film industry.
Kang Jen: I think it is more of the way how audiences consume the stories. As actors, we perform and live our characters regardless of the medium. In fact, in the early days, we wouldn't have known who will be distributing or broadcasting the film during production.
Netflix isn't just a platform but also a resource for TV and film industry. It allows our works to be seen by the world and it is always fascinating to receive comments from people across the world in different languages on my social media, thanks to the internet.