I have a lot of affection for the series Ugly Wudi since it was the first thing I wrote about on Cfensi. It’s also a good series from what I’ve seen of it, although what I’ve seen consists of only bits and pieces. However I love the fact that, in keeping with Hunan TV tradition, it’s given lesser known but very experienced actors a break, like Wang Kai, Qi Ji and Liu Xiaohu who’ve graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, Beijing Film Academy and Shanghai Theatre Academy (the big triumvate of top acting institutes in China) respectively.
It also lets less experienced actors shine: Photographer Zhong Hongkai posted some pictures he took of the lead actress Li Xinru, only 21, on his blog, with this comment:
“Li Ruxin is a very slender, tall girl. For this series, she gained weight. This professional attitude is very worthy of our admiration. Her lively and happy attitude allowed us to work joyfully. Except the company would not let us take off the glasses, so all the pictures came out a bit Harry Potter like, leaving me feeling a bit disappointed. Next time we’ll have to do this again without the glasses.”
Li Xinru unlike the majority of her drama school alumni costars, has an extensive background in dance, a graduate of the PLA School of Arts Dance Department and the Beijing Department of Classical Dance. Gaining weight for her role must be harder than anyone of us can imagine for someone who has had to keep her weight strictly at a certain range for years and years due to the strict requirements they have at the PLA for their students.
It’s not uncommon to see dancers going into acting. There’s been countless times when I’ve come across interviews with actresses in Hollywood who have some degree of dancing background, and this happens quite frequently with Chinese actors. In fact the two leads for the New Dream of the Red Chamber are both from dance academies. Animation studios have also had a habit of using dancers as models for detailing the movements they want to duplicate on paper. There is a grace and confidence that dancers bring.
Ugly Wudi is a show that calls for a lot of physical comedy from its lead, and it just may be why Li Xinru was chosen. Her dancing background will also come in handy for season three, which is going to be a musical series (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Once More With Feeling”) . Season three begins airing this summer, and I can’t wait.