BY NICKIE WANG/ MANILA STANDARD TODAY
In a phone interview with Standard Today to promote an Animax’s first-ever high definition animation movie made for TV, Van Ness made this interesting revelation.
“I’m a big dork and a bit of a nerd. When I was young my cousins and I were too involved with gadgets and we were all crazy over animation. But I found it very cool because I was with my cousins and we enjoyed what we were doing,” explained Van Ness who does not have an accent similar to other Asian actors.
He will be lending his voice to the all-animé TV network’s first multimedia multiplatform, original animation production for online, mobile and TV entitled LaMB. It is a full-length animated movie to be produced under the Singapore Economic Development Board and SPE Networks-Asia Joint Production Fund with a startling production budget of $6 million.
LaMB, which is based on the award-winning script submitted by Filipino amateur writer Carmelo Juinio to the Animax Awards 2007 pan-Asia scriptwriting contest, is also set to star another Asian artist and rock star, Josie Ho, as voice actor to a villainess role. She will dub the movie in English and Cantonese.
Van Ness is providing English and Mandarin dubs. It is his first attempt to voice-act in English and second in Mandarin.
“There wasn’t any audition, the producers of the project just approached me and I thought it was a privilege. They needed an actor who can speak both in English and Mandarin so my name popped up,” Van Ness, who is also a big fan of Japanese animé Naruto and Walt Disney’s classic character Pinocchio, answered when asked if he went on auditions before getting the plum role.
Van Ness will face the challenges in bringing to life the character named Jack, a scientist who is on a roller-coaster ride with his emotions, starting with the pain and despair of moving on after the loss of his wife, the struggle against the system of virtual imprisonment and a doomed romance with a female prisoner named Eve.
“I am very excited about my involvement in Animax as it looks set to reach out to Asian youths in a big way. The only challenge is that I need to study the character so I could deliver the lines with a heart. Right now, everything is not yet finished and we are still doing a lot of adjustments,” the 30-year-old star enthused.
Currently in production at Singapore-based animation studio Peach Blossom Media and concept art house Imaginary Friends Studios, LaMB is being directed by Ryosuke Tei, ex-creative director of Japanese design agency Furi Furi, with storyboards by Yasufumi Soejima, formerly from famed animé studio Gonzo. It will premiere on the TV network across Asia early 2009.
LaMB follows protagonists Jack and Eve’s struggle against planet Cerra’s “Lamination” system of imprisonment where criminals called “LaMBs” are kept in laminated suits to remain productive but not free members of society.
Eve is an ex-scientist serving her sentence in the suit having accidentally taken innocent lives in an experiment gone wrong, while Jack is a visiting scientist immersing himself in work to forget his dead wife. Inadvertently, Jack gets pulled into the political system of “Lamination” and a romance with Eve.
While LaMB represents Van Ness’ first attempt at voice-acting for animation in English, he is no stranger to manga and animé having shot to fame in Asia playing a handsome and suave university student in the wildly popular Taiwanese idol drama series in 2001, Meteor Garden, Meteor Rain, and Meteor Garden II.
Van Ness is best known as a teen idol and singer of Taiwanese Mando-pop music group “F4” now known as “JVKV.” With “F4,” Van Ness released three music albums, and has produced two albums individually including Body Will Sing (2002) and V. DUBB (2007). He has also collaborated with international and regional musicians including Beyoncé Knowles, Coco Lee, and Wang Lee Hom.
His acting credits include a part in epic period movie Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008), as well as roles in TV drama series Peach Girl (2002), Say Yes Enterprise (2004), and Wish to See You Again (2008).