Sonia Sui feuds with difficult neighbours in Lovely Villain, Latest TV News - The New Paper

Sonia Sui feuds with difficult neighbours in Lovely Villain

It may be difficult to think of the usually glamorous Taiwanese actress Sonia Sui as a stressed-out housewife pretending to be part of high society.

But that is exactly what the 42-year-old star plays in the new series Lovely Villain, billed as Taiwan’s answer to the hit K-drama Penthouse (2020 to 2021).

The soap opera, which is available on Viu, stars Sui as housewife Han Zhenzhen, who moves into a luxurious house her sister owns in an upscale neighbourhood with her unsuccessful writer-husband (James Wen) and their teenage daughter (Chloe Xiang).

To blend in with her haughty neighbours, she pretends to be a wealthy tai-tai just like her sister.

To perfect the role, the production gave Sui lessons with teachers from Taiwan’s famed modern dance troupe Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.

In an e-mail interview with The Straits Times, Sui says: “Rich ladies lead comfortable, relaxed lives, so they tend to be a bit slower-paced and their posture is one of confidence, with their heads held high.

“In contrast, Zhenzhen is someone who is stressed out. Being in such a community around unfamiliar people gives her a lot of anxiety. The teachers adjusted my body so I was more hunched over, as if I’m ready to go into fight mode at any time.”

There are indeed plenty of fights between Zhenzhen and her neighbours in the series, including the ringleader of the tai-tais (June Tsai).

In a life-imitates-art coincidence, Sui was involved in a highly publicised feud with her neighbour in February after unnamed residents accused her family of being noisy.

She is married to businessman Tony Hsieh, and they have three children – elder son Max, seven; daughter Lucy, six; and younger son Olie, four. She did not address her recent dispute in the interview.

Taiwanese actress Sonia Sui. PHOTO: SUITANGTANG/INSTAGRAM


Lovely Villain also sees Sui reuniting with Wen, who played her cheating spouse in the hit series The Fierce Wife (2010 to 2011).

The co-stars go way back, having played a couple in the Web series Power For Love (2009) and drama The Year Of Happiness And Love (2009). They are separately married now – Wen wed his teenage sweetheart in 2013 and has a 10-year-old daughter – but Sui says they led a full life on the small screen.

James Wen (left) and Sonia Sui (right) reunite as a long-married couple in Lovely Villain. PHOTO: VIU


She says: “We went through the stages of romance on screen – ambiguity, dating, infatuation, marriage and even divorce. It’s a rare affinity to have that experience with another actor over such a long period of time. It feels like we went through a whole life together.”

Wen, 45, adds: “The Fierce Wife was 13 years ago. Both of us have changed a lot. We both got married and became parents, so the storylines about parent-child relationships in (Lovely Villain) resonated with us easily.”

Some of the duo’s most intense and biggest fight scenes in the show revolve around their daughter, who is a victim of bullying and sexual assault.

Sonia Sui (left) has to face off a group of rich, condescending neighbours led by June Tsai in Lovely Villain. PHOTO: VIU


When asked how they handle such delicate topics with their own children, Sui aims for education.

“I taught them the concept of bodily autonomy from a young age. I let them know their bodies are their own and I teach them what the boundaries of physical touch are,” she says. “As for bullying, unfortunately, I think it’s something that happens as long as there are people and communities.”

She adds: “The best we can do is to teach them the right mindset to face such issues with. The most important job we have as parents is to ensure our children trust us enough to share their lives with us, so that they have our help and support when they need it.”

As for Wen, he jokes: “I just hope my daughter doesn’t bully anyone.“

Lovely Villain is available on Viu.