Lim Kay Tong is a veteran Singaporean film, TV and stage actor. Notably, he starred opposite Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise (1986), Pierce Brosnan in Noble House (1988) and Claire Danes in Brokedown Palace (1999), and was the lead actor in Growing Up (1996-2001) and Perth (2004). Lim has been called “Singapore’s finest actor”, “Singapore’s best-known actor” and Singapore’s answer to thespians Ian McKellen.
Lim’s acting career began on the stage, when he auditioned for a production while being bored during National Service. In 1974, he starred in Robert Yeo’s landmark play, Are You There, Singapore? for the Experimental Theatre Club. His other initial acting roles were in the plays Equus (1975) and Marching Song (197?) for the University Drama Society and One Mad Night (1975) for the Stage Club.
Upon his return from England, Lim played the lead role in the Experimental Theatre Club’s Terry Rex (1982). The Straits Times’ Minu Tharoor praised his Terry, writing, “Stage presence is too cliche a term for the imaginative energy with which Kay Tong took control of the play, the stage and his part”. For his performance, Lim clinched the Singapore Drama Festival Best Actor Award.
Lim then continued acting in plays like David Henry Hwang’s F.O.B. (Fresh Off Boat) (1982), Chandran Lingam’s The Nuns (1983) and Abigail’s Party (1983), for which his “marvellously taut performance” was praised by The Singapore Monitor’s Yap Koon Hong.
Lim helped to set up TheatreWorks, the first adult professional theatre company in Singapore, which was formed to “promote theatre that is relevant to Singaporeans” and create work for English-language actors. Lim served as the company’s press and media relations consultant, in addition to acting in several of their plays.
Lim also acted in the English-language versions of Kuo Pao Kun’s influential plays The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole (1985) and No Parking On Odd Days (1986). Both productions travelled to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 1987. In preparation, Kuo and Lim visited a coffin-maker and discussed the nature
Most recently, it was revealed that Lim will play founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in the upcoming film celebrating Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, 1965.