'Uncle Sim' finds learning 'so simple'
His jovial personality and contagious laughter got him role in Visa payWave commercials
You may recognise him from the Visa payWave advertisements as the jovial Uncle Sim, the one with the "So simple!" catchphrase.
In real life, Mr Tan Kar Sim, 67, is every bit as infectious as the character he portrays - he smiles widely and readily, his cheerful demeanour only matched by his bright pink shirt, as he sat down with The New Paper for an interview at Hello Group's office near Macpherson Road yesterday.
He is also as spritely.
"I usually exercise four to five times a week by brisk walking alone in the evening," he said.
"I also practise aikido three times a week, but that's more of a hobby."
Mr Tan has appeared in many commercials and several television shows. Most were small parts and were aired in Malaysia.
Before he dabbled in acting commercials, Mr Tan used to manage his own real estate company in Malaysia and continues to be one of the directors today.
"I was a real estate agent for three years before taking the examination to obtain the certificate to practice. Funnily enough, being a real estate agent was what got me my first commercial job," he said.
It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but if other people can do it, why can't I?" Mr Tan Kar Sim
That came about back in 1997, when he was helping a production house to find a space to store their equipment, and they found him interesting when they spoke to him.
They invited him to audition for a hair commercial in Malaysia, and he landed the job.
Since then, by his own reckoning, he has appeared in about 100 commercials.
"I love acting as I like to portray the life and personalities of so many characters. It's very fun for me," said Mr Tan, who has two grown-up daughters and two grandchildren, one from each daughter.
Miss Priscilla Hoo, 29, casting director of Hello Group, was one of those who chose Mr Tan for the Visa payWave commercial out of over 80 who auditioned in Singapore and Malaysia.
She told TNP: "Nobody managed to nail the lines. He (Mr Tan) was a friend's recommendation.
"He was slightly older than the age group the clients were looking for, but my friend told us to try him out because he had done quite a few commercials overseas before, so perhaps he could do the lines. And lo and behold, he was selected.
"He could remember the lines and had a jovial personality and a very contagious laughter."
It was his biggest job, one that he constantly gets recognised in the street for, whether he is in a food court, coffee shop or when he is waiting at the traffic lights to cross the road.
"People will always stare, come up to me and ask if I'm the guy on TV.
"They will always ask for pictures with me. Even if I'm tired, I will still oblige," he said.
Other than stares and selfies, his success has also snagged him a main character role in Mediacorp Suria's upcoming television drama, Long Qiam Pass, which features actors of different races. The eight-episode series airs next July.
Mr Tan said: "I'm happy about this show as it's educational for everyone and fosters good relationships among the races.
"Malay is my second language, so filming this came naturally.
He added: "But I still must learn how to articulate and pronounce the words."
This is the first time he is appearing in a major role.
"It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but if other people can do it, why can't I?
"I'm always up for challenges, and I just need to stay positive and keep practising."