When watching the upcoming Chinese New Year flick The Monkey King 2, do look out for a trio of underlings next to the White Bone Demon played by Gong Li.
One of them, the Bat Devil, is Beijing-based Malaysian actress Giselle Chia.
The tanned and leggy beauty landed the role after an audition, and spent three months at the Huallywood film studio in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, for the filming.
“This is an action-fantasy film so I had to use my imagination to create the character. What kind of bat should I be? A scary, or a cute one?” she said. “To stand out among the three – the other two are Porcupine and Snake Devils – I have to be special and terrifying. I need to have the persona to hold the audience’s attention.”
In the movie, the three underlings of the White Bone Demon assist her in fighting off the Monkey King (played by Aaron Kwok), Xuanzang (Feng Shaofeng), Zhu Bajie (Xiao Shenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law), who are heading to the west to obtain the sacred texts.
Chia also appears in two human forms – a beggar and a white fairy – in the film. She decided to free herself from restrictions and gave all she could in order to gain more screen time in the film.
“I have to strive to be outstanding. A small performance might earn me an extra fraction of a second in the final cut.”
The special costume she was assigned helped her to slip into the role of the winged villain. Many layers of “skin” were attached on her body.
“My make-up would take 10 to 14 hours to complete each time. Removing them later would require another four hours of scrubbing with alcohol.
“I also have a pair of beautiful red claws. To make them appear more realistic, my hands were doused in lubricant all the time,” she said, adding that since filming took place in the winter, the “skin” she donned did little to shield her from the chill.
Chia said she trained hard for three months prior to filming to maintain her toned figure.
“I am a ballet dancer and I work out regularly, so my body type suited their requirements. There can’t be any fat rolls,” she said.
Chia, who hails from Kuala Lumpur, made her showbiz debut in 2011 when she was recruited to be in a pop girl group, X-Queen, alongside a Chinese and a Korean. They released two singles but went their separate ways in 2014.
Before that, she was the on-screen producer of the Mandarin version of Underwater Action, a reality show featuring models in action beneath the water surface, in the Philippines.
Chia, who holds a degree in finance and accounting from Charles Sturt University in Australia, has also dabbled in modelling and acting back home. She goes by the stage name of Qi Xi Er in China.
Last year, Chia got the opportunity to visit Paris to be mentored by Franck Priot, the chief operating officer of Film France, the French Film Commission.
She had met Priot during a talk in Beijing and e-mailed him a screenplay she wrote on marine conversation.
“He criticised my script, but felt I was brave enough, so he gave me a chance to pay him a short visit.
“In Paris, he instructed me to watch films from 8am to midnight every day to learn more about movies and screenplays, in addition to meeting directors and producers,” Chia said.
While pursuing her silver-screen dreams, Chia also wants to continue singing. She is currently signed with Malaysian-own Wav Music & Entertainment and has released a single, Yi Shi Jie (A Strange World), in which she sang about a mermaid suffering from pollution. Her song, Chao Xi (Tide), was recently chosen as the theme song of an online Chinese film To See A Mermaid.
The Monkey King 2 is currently showing at cinemas natiowide.