Tao Hong talks gender equality and the absence of meaty roles for mature actresses

Some of you may recognise talented actress Tao Hong as the dragon maiden from rom-com Sunny Piggy 春光灿烂猪八戒 (2000), which also propelled her husband and actor-director Xu Zheng to fame, or as Ji Xiaofu in Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre 2003. The actress recently returned to mainstream television as a controlling single mother in A Little Reunion, a critically and commercially successful slice-of-life drama that focuses on the stressful relationship between parents and teenagers on the cusp of high school graduation.

I’ve translated some excerpts from the actress’ recent interview, in which she shares her views on the entertainment industry and the situation faced by many older actresses in the industry.

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“I only want to be your supporting actor” – the story of Zhang Yunlei and Yang Jiulang

“When I was in the Intensive Care Unit, he promised me … ‘ In the future, whatever makes you happy, whatever you want to do, go do it and  I’ll follow you.’ ” – Zhang Yunlei

Yang Jiulang kept his word.  According to a director of a variety show,  in the two years since Zhang Yunlei came out of the ICU, Yang Jiulang completely molded himself to fit Zhang Yunlei.

He would wheel him around in a wheelchair off stage and be his crutch on stage.  He would stay up until 3am waiting for word that Zhang Yunlei got home safely from filming.   He doesn’t even hand Zhang Yunlei water without first unscrewing the cap. He almost never sings but knows the lyrics to every song Zhang Yunlei sings on stage.  If Zhang Yunlei wants him to sing, all Zhang Yunlei has to do was to stop mid-sentence and look to the left, and Yang Jiulang will finish his sentence without missing a beat.

From love at first meal, two miraculous comebacks, learning to walk three times,  to plenty of foreshadowing and climaxes, the story of singer-comedian Zhang Yunlei and his partner Yang Jiulang unfolds as if it were a carefully constructed drama. Zhang Yunlei’s life story is a miracle in itself, but the story of their journey together is a fitting parallel plot.

*warning* Because they’re comedians, everything they say is a lie or a hyperbole.   I will try to stick to off-stage interviews here, but I hold no responsibility for recounting lies they fed me.

“If fate be willing, we will be together “

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Wang Kai: Work Hard and You’ll Sleep With the One You Love

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“Comfort is for the dead.” – Wang Kai

Oh, Wang Kai, how do I describe thee?  He’s the only young drama actor I know who has never had someone else dub for him in a drama (minus a brief dub-over by Jin Dong when his character sung opera in The Disguiser).  Be it the flaming director in Ugly Wudi,   the rugged soldier who murders for love in A Murder Beside Yanhe River,  the metro detective in New Detective Squad, the teary-eyed officer in All Quiet in Peking,  the Prince who risked his life for the truth in Nirvana in Fire, or the traitor, the revolutionary, the secretary, the assassin, the smuggler, and the miser in The Disguiser,   Wang Kai has successfully portrayed a string of characters with vastly different personalities, slipping under the radar until this fall.

Marked by a rare honesty (he will respond to literally any question), here are a few selected interview responses to him.  He’s actually a lot more silly in interviews than the translations imply.

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Jin Dong and the Art of Acting

“All of my characters, no matter small or large, must be a complete character.”

If his fierce dedication to treating each role as an artwork and his bold criticisms of his colleagues in the pursuit of his art had already begun to make my heart flutter,  by the time Jin Dong started talking about beauty as a social construct, my heart had already soared out of the atmosphere. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he totally fits my personal construction of beauty.

Her are a few selected responses by the actor in recent interviews, including on his meticulous preparation for his characters, his vehement opposition for dubbing, and his thoughts on Wang Kai, Hu Ge, and the industry. In italics are notes by me.

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“Jin Dong tries so hard to build his characters in such crappy dramas” … story of his life.

On fans complaining about his role being dubbed for Nirvana in Fire. Note that Jin Dong, producer Hou Hongliang, and director Li Xue are long-time best friends.
I think fans should complain some more.  Even though I guest starred for (the production team) as a friend, they shouldn’t have gotten someone else to dub me.  About this I have two thoughts. First is my deep hatred and disgust at Hou Hongliang and Li Xue .  Second is my feeling of regret because dubbing makes the voice acting and the visual acting disjoint.  When I questioned them, they proudly told me they got the biggest dubber in Beijing (Jiang Guangtao, who is the male lead in every other idol drama you’ve seen).    But look at the result, you can judge yourselves.

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Zheng Shuang Talks Plastic Surgery & Zhang Han

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Plastic Surgery and Relationship Status, two topics celebrities can’t avoid quick enough and tabloid can’t get enough of. For years, fans have been waiting for some type of straight forward confirmation or denial on the Han Shuang relationship. Finally, after years of ambiguity regarding her relationship with Zhang Han, Zheng Shuang decided to tackle two of the most feared topics in the entertainment industry in one go.

Why would she do such a thing? Maybe it’s like Zheng Shuang says in the interview:

I think it’s due to the difference in time period/generation. Based on my age and experience, I don’t regard [plastic surgery] as a secret or private matter. I think this is something that can be talked about openly.

And she does. Nothing (seems to be) off-limit in her sit-down interview with sina. Zheng Shuang openly talked about her relationship with Zhang Han and her recent plastic surgery rumors. (more…)

Guo Jingming: I’m the Chinese dream of these Times

Looks familiar? The Christmas scene from the movie is filmed at no other than Guo Jingming's condo.
Looks familiar? The Christmas scene from the movie is filmed at no other than Guo Jingming’s condo.

Author-publisher-director Guo Jingming sits down with Sina‘s Chen Yiyi to discuss his version of the Chinese Dream, what it means to be an idol,  the attacks on him and his works, and  his visions for his foray into film. Translations of selected parts by me. Random gif’s of unknown origin included.

One of Guo Jingming’s alter egos in the film, played by Chen Xuedong.

“I embody a part of their dream.””

Sina: The main audience of 《Tiny Times》 , those born after ’85, these youths, what characterizes them?
Guo Jingming: The biggest focal point is the pursuit of individuality.  Our parents seek similarities in lifestyles, the same type of pants, same haircut, same food in the same cafeteria.  But today, the lifestyles of the youth are of all types: you might like tattoos, and I like nose rings; you like rock, I like classical music.  People are different, everyone’s a unique individual. There isn’t a “generation of people.” I think only under a twisted societal environment would there be the idea of “a generation of people” or “a group of people.”.

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Zhou Xun interview by the Wall Street Journal

Zhou Xun at a recent
Imagining a better world – Zhou Xun at a recent exhibit.

Actress Zhou Xun recently spoke with the Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she talked about her thoughts on film and goals for charity.

“Even though the stories are set in different periods of time, the same characters reappear. Different periods have different limitations, and the characters can or cannot do different things. But basically they are all human beings,” said Zhou Xun on playing roles set in different time periods. “So the spy in ‘The Message’ could still be found today. Maybe today she would have a computer, maybe she would be doing corporate espionage, to steal a different message, but she would still be the same essential spy.”

The actress, who’s heavily involved in a number of environmental and other public projects,  also talked about her vision of a new  project to bring together retirement homes and orphanages. Read the complete interview here.

BOBO Happy Camp most watched show of the night

BOBO was on Happy Camp last Saturday, helping it to be the number one watched show of that time period. Watch part 1 here and part 2 here. Interview translation of BOBO below the cut

Zhang Jie and Li Yuchun will appear on the next two episodes of Happy to promote their new albums next. Who’s excited for some Zhang Jie-Xie Na interactions? The preview made me lol so much when Zhang Jie pretended to be his picture that always appears on Happy Camp when he’s mentioned and said “what does that have to do with me?”

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Super Girls, Elle photoshoot, and the first battle.

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This week’s Super  Girls news include the release of their MV, free MP3 downloads of the girl’s songs, some studio recorded and other live,  and the first of their weekly Elle photoshoot.

The competition:

Forget about the happy, the female and the voice. This is war, and judge Bao Xiaobo is one against many.

After walking out last time because he disapproved of Zeng Yike’s admittance into the top 20, Bao Xiaobo returns, vowing to help the other 9 girls left . He begins the contest by saying that he wants “voices with confidence, voices that doesn’t waiver, and voices that aren’t off key.” Yikes for Yike.

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