“The Ghost Bride” (彼岸之嫁) is a big deal. Not only was it written by Malaysian novelist Yangsze Choo, but it is also Netflix’s first large scale collaboration in Malaysia with local talent and production teams alike.

‘The Ghost Bride’ is based on superstitious myth, but is ‘very’ Chinese-Peranakan. Even though it is quite localised, it can be very appealing to other cultures. This is what we are looking for. We try and find storylines that people will enjoy all around the world,” a Netflix spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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Directed by Quek Shio Chuan and Ho Yuhang, the 6-episode series’ plot reads:

In 1890s Colonial Malacca, Li Lan has been offered a marriage proposal from the wealthy Lim Family to become the ‘ghost bride’ to their recently deceased son. Her family will be saved from a lifetime of debt, but she’ll spend the rest of her life being haunted by the Lim family’s son. Desperate to get out of this ghastly arrangement, she soon finds herself wrapped up in a murder mystery and embroiled in other-worldly affairs much bigger than she could have ever imagined.”

1. Pan Li Lan (潘麗蘭)

  • Played by Huang Pei-Jia (黄姵嘉)

Pan Li Lan is a free-spirited, adventurous teenager in a world where females can never be as important as men. From a young age, she has dreamed of traveling the world, especially Paris, the place where her late mother promised to bring her. She always feels that there’s more for her than following other girls her age – to get married and “trapped” as a housewife forever – but there aren’t many options for women in her time. Li Lan is the only child in the Pan family and since her mother’s death, she has been cared for by her father and Amah, who has been serving the family even before Li Lan’s birth. Her best friend is Yu Li, the complete opposite of her. Since she was a little girl,Li Lan has had feelings for Tian
Bai and the feelings remained upon his return from overseas, although she doesn’t know if Tian Bai feels the same.

After she’s poisoned in Episode 3, Li Lan’s spirit travels to the underworld and she finds her family and herself threatened by Tian Ching, who wants to take her as a ghost bride. Together with a Heaven’s Guard named Er Lang, Li Lan fulfills her dream of an adventure of a lifetime.

Fun facts during the press conference and our exclusive interview:

  • In real life, Li Lan is a much braver person than myself.”
  • Like Kuang Tian, I was introduce to tango for the first time.”
  • On working alongside her male costars: “This is my second working experience with Kang Jen, so it was easy to get into the rhyme and also communicate with one another. As for Kuang Tian, we actually went to the same University together but this was our first time working together. Perhaps due to his inexperience, he was often nervous on set. So I’d tell him to calm down and let loose a little.”
  • Biggest challenge: “Scenes that took place in the underworld had a lot of effects, and that required a lot of imagination. So I’d ask very specific directions from the director.”

2. Er Lang (二郎)

  • Played by Chris Wu Kang Jen (吴慷仁)

Despite his youthful and charming looks, Er Lang is in fact an immortal who is 500 years old. As a Heaven’s Guard, Er Lang works on cases related to Heaven, the Underworld, and the Human World. A brash and arrogant man, he has zero empathy for humans as he considers them to be complicated beings who always act on emotions, but things change after he meets Li Lan. He thinks that his immortality is a curse as he has watched empires destroyed and loved ones die over the last 500 years, causing him to suppress his emotions. As a Heaven’s Guard, he possesses the power to manipulate Qi but his power doesn’t work when he’s in the underworld.

One of his most commonly used power is producing a flower out of thin air which he uses to flirt with women. Before meeting Li Lan, his ultimate goal is to expose the bribery between Tian Ching and one of the Judges of the Court of Hell, to receive promotion which will release him from being on the field. However, upon meeting Li Lan, he rediscovers his human side and her safety becomes his ultimate priority.

Fun facts during our exclusive interview:

  • Er Lang is sort of a middleman and audiences will get to see a big shift in him halfway through the series.
  • There were different versions of swords on set. Because the authentic weapon was too heavy to wield, we had to resort to other alternatives.”
  • On watching the final product on screen: When he conjured a flower out of thin air in episode 2, the animation director was using only a light bulb. So the actor was quite impressed to see the scene turn out so well.

3. Lim Tian Bai (林天白)

  • Played by Ludi Lin (林路迪)

A medical school grad who’s recently returned from overseas, Tian Bai is the rightful man-in-charge of the Lim family after Tian Ching’s death and Mr. Lim’s absence. Despite that, he doesn’t act on it as Madam Lim is still the matriarch of the house. He’s the cousin to Tian Ching and Yan Hong yet he’s Mr. Lim’s most trusted person to take over the family business. Tian Bai always puts his family above everything, so he’s willing to let go of his dream of becoming a doctor to take over the family’s business. He also agrees to marry Isabel Souza, the daughter of a powerful Macau family, in an attempt to unite the two families. A smart, by-the-book character, Tian Bai’s life is always laid out for him.

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Upon his return, he rekindles his relationship with Li Lan and finds himself divided between his own feelings and his duty to the family. Throughout the series, Tian Bai finds himself pushed out of his comfort zone as he starts to put himself first and embarks on a murder mystery to investigate Li Lan’s poisoner.

Fun facts during the press conference and our exclusive interview:

  • Ludi on his character: “I have many friends that just exudes kindness and that’s something I’ve always admired in a person – who’s goal is to help people. As it turns out, Tian Bai is not like that because he’s got 2 girls up his sleeve. So (the series) teases out the relationships, I think that’s an important factor.”
  • Challenges faced during production: “The feedback I got initially was that my Mandarin was too Chinese because I was born in Mainland China. So I had to learn how to modify my pronunciation.”
  • Similarities with the character: “Although the conditions can be different, we all share the same emotions. Tian Bai has the best of intentions and he’s a pure romantic. But in the real world, if you behave like that, you’ll end up neglecting a lot of things and that can cause a whole series of tragic events.”

4. Lim Tian Ching (林天青)

  • Played by Kuang Tian (田士广)

The main antagonist of the series, Tian Ching is the egoistic, spoiled son of Madam Lim. His privilege continues after his death through the luxurious offerings burnt for him, and his illegal arrangement with one of the judges of the Courts of Hell. During his life, Tian Ching is a carefree playboy and a megalomaniac who’s often undermined by Mr. Lim due to his impulsive behaviour – his father’s neglect of him and his own bratty behaviour work hand in hand to make him an unlikeable person. He dies from mysterious causes, until it’s revealed that his death is caused by the same poison used on Li Lan. The conflict of the series starts when Tian Ching demands Li Lan to be his ghost bride and the proposal comes along with various threats and hauntings towards Li Lan and the Pan family.

Fun facts during the press conference and our exclusive interview:

  • What he learned: “I was reintroduced to our own culture from the many costumes we wore.”
  • Similarities between him and his character: “I could relate most to the family struggle within the Lim family. Because I moved out of my home at a young age, there’s been a challenge in conveying how I actually feel.”
  • New skill: “I had to learn tango for this role. Pei-Jia already had years of dance experience. So for me, I had to go through several rehearsals in order to keep up.”

5. Mr Pan (潘先生)

  • Played by Jordan Voon (温绍平)

Li Lan’s father – a spice trader – Mr. Pan (潘先生) has been a shadow of his former lively self since the death of his wife. His grief has indirectly impacted his relationship with Li Lan – he has let his business suffer, and the family is now no longer well off and only scraping by. Despite that, Li Lan’s love for him is still unshakeable to a point where she dares to enter the underworld in order to save him when he falls sick.

After he’s cured, he is determined to take a second shot at being a good father to Li Lan by teaming up with Tian Bai to find the person who poisoned Li Lan.

6. Amah (阿嬤)

  • Played by Susan Leong (梁书造)

Since the death of Li Lan’s mother, Amah has been Li Lan’s mother figure. She has worked in the Pan household as the maid since before Li Lan was born and has seen Li Lan grew up to be the woman she is. Although she seems like a control freak and constantly tells Li Lan what to do, all she ever wants is for Li Lan to find her happiness. She’s a no-nonsense, street smart person and respected as one of the prominent individuals in Malacca’s Amah community, where she gets the inside track of the town’s going-ons. She has a close friendship with Old Wong and Ying Jia Amah, a maid of the Lim family. She’s well-versed in Chinese culture and customs. Amah is also affected by Tian Ching’s proposal to marry Li Lan as she starts having mysterious bruises and suffers from hauntings.

7. Madam Lim (林夫人)

  • Played by Angeline Tan (陈意遐)

The matriarch of the Lim family, Madam Lim is a revered and influential housewife. In Mr. Lim’s absence, she has taken care of the Lim mansion. Tian Ching is her biological son whom she loves the most as she still keeps serving him after his death by burning luxurious offerings for him. This also includes passing Tian Ching’s marriage proposal to Li Lan. Although Madam Lim believes that burning those offerings is a way to show her love to Tian Ching after his death, she doesn’t realize that her actions have been implicating the people around her. Her other daughter, Yan Hong never receives the same treatment as Yan Hong is actually the daughter of Mr. Lim’s concubine who was brought to the Lim mansion. At the end of the series, Madam Lim realizes that she needs to let go of Tian Ching’s death and end her estrangement from her step daughter Yan Hong.

Fun facts during the press conference and our exclusive interview:

  • About her character: “Madam Lim is slightly psycho because of the son. Her dearest son is dead and her husband isn’t by her side. The similarities between Angeline and Madam Lim is probably the love for her son because I’m that kind of mother. But I’m not crazy to the point where I’ll go look for a ghost bride. Maybe if I was living in that era, I’d behave like that.”

8. Old Wong (老王)

  • Played by Wilson Tin (曾潍山)

Old Wong is the Pan family’s cook with a secret; he has the ability to see ghosts but has been struggling to ignore his ability as it comes with a sense of guilt. When Old Wong was younger, he saw his best friend, a little boy drown in the river. He could’ve helped him but didn’t. Since then, the boy started haunting him. He’s also affected by Tian Ching’s haunting like Amah but the effect of him is worse thanks to his third eye. Due to the terrifying haunting, Old Wong leaves the Pan house in Episode 3.

Like Amah, he has unconditional love for Li Lan thus in order to bring Li Lan out of the underworld, he’s willing to be vulnerable by helping a medium to deliver a message to Li Lan. The action weakens him, leading to a peaceful death knowing that he’s no longer bound by his guilt.

9. Yan Hong (林艳红)

  • Played by Jojo Goh (吴俐璇)

As the daughter of Mr. Lim’s concubine, Yan Hong is the black sheep of the family and she’s disregarded by Madam Lim. As a baby, Yan Hong was taken to the Lim household by her mother before committing suicide, proclaiming that she would curse them should Yan Hong not be taken care of. The lack of attention and love from Madam Lim causes Yan Hong to develop a rebellious personality – she seeks refuge in the smoky rooms of a gambling den. Despite her stern facade, Yan Hong is a nice person with utmost love for the family and the only thing she has ever wanted is for Madam Lim to see her as a daughter. She’s also a good childhood friend of Tian Bai.

For more info, visit netflix.com/TheGhostBride.

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Justin
Usually awkward & quiet, but gets talkative once the conversation revolves around movies, TV shows, music, and entertainment. (Contact: [email protected])