‘Missing: Eve of Tết’ Actress on Finding Her Character In The New Vietnamese True Crime Series

Missing: Eve Of Tet
Photo courtesy of Galaxy Play

Since it was Tết, finding people became generally more challenging than usual. If a person wasn’t abroad then they’d be out of town, if not to travel then it’d be to visit relatives. 

But the situation was somewhat different for actress Lý Hồng Ân, 27. If you’d like to see her, simply boot up the streaming platform Galaxy Play, and there she is front and center of the seven-episode crime-drama series Mất Tích Đêm 30 (Missing: Eve of Tết) from director Hàm Trần.

Coincidentally, much like her other recent appearance in Kẻ Ăn Hồn (The Soul Reaper), Ân again plays a character who gets abducted. While out delivering chickens for her family’s business at the turn of the year, Mai (Ân) disappears, and from there, unsavory truths about her community and even family—chiefly her mother Hoà (Kiều Trinh)—come to light. 

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“Once we’ve wrapped, and prior to entering a new role,” she said, “I had to sit down and distinguish which feelings and emotions are mine, are Mai’s, are mine for the production, and are mine for my own. I think it took me quite a while to do that. And only then can I move on.”

Ân’s sentiments could be traced back to how Mai’s situation was inspired by that of a girl in Điện Biên province in 2019. Being the heart of what was locally referred to as “kỳ án nữ sinh giao gà,” or “the case of the female student who delivers chickens,” she and the circumstances of her kidnapping captivated and rattled much of Vietnam at the time. That everything transpired so close to a renowned joyous occasion was one thing. The calculated absence of humanity from the culprits was another.

A total of nine people were arrested. Six among them received the death sentence.

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“After I got the role, I spent three days reading and watching everything I could about the case, even the trial, to the point I could memorize who’s whom,” Ân said. “I then cried. Cried a lot. It was not just tragic, but also too cruel. I remember feeling concerned, less about whether I could be Mai but more about how people could be so twisted.”

Of course, not only Ân felt some pressure telling—or, in some ways, retelling—this story. She came across comments on social media about how the show would reanimate the painful past. To the press, and as clarification, director Hàm said the making of Missing: Eve of Tết always emphasized family love, and how “at times love alone is not enough, but family members must also open up to each other to really know one another.”

On that, Ân also agreed. For her own part, to work on opening up as well as accessing her character’s headspace, she wrote some passages to Mai, asking the latter about life’s going-ons, thoughts, and bond with her mother, Hoà.

Photo courtesy of Lý Hồng Ân

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“There always seems to be massive rocks between Vietnamese family members,” she added. “This lack of communication will hurt and harm. Missing: Eve of Tết shows that often. Most believe that to be a family is as simple as everyone showing up for dinner, but that’s far from enough. True bonding isn’t just what is seen. What is felt also matters. Maybe say more. Speak up. Just ask each other, like, ‘How’s your day?’ and it will do wonders.”

On a cheerier note, Ân said her foreseeable future is packed with roles that excite her. There is Duyên where she plays an antagonist for the first time in her career. There is also a role in Quán Kỳ Nam, at the moment scheduled for 2025, from director Leon Lê of Song Lang fame. She’ll be playing a character named Vy.

Missing: Eve of Tết doesn’t yet have a release date in the United States. (Writer’s note: With your interest, however, this can change.)



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