Q: Recently you were invited to the Met Ball in New York for the first time as Vogue China’s special guest, did you have any special experience(s)?
A: It’s an honor to participate in the “fashion Oscars”. Other than being extremely elated, there’s a special kind of excitement I feel too. Perhaps it is because there was a period of time where I lived overseas, so upon seeing this kind of cultural exchange between eastern and western cultures, it means a lot to me. And I feel that apparel and fashion is a kind of universal language, no matter where you are or where you come from, you can interact and communicate. I also hope that such a ceremony can be held in China one day.
Q: This time for the Met Ball, many male celebrities chose more colorful and outstanding suits, why did you decide on a white, formal coattail-less jacket matched with a pair of black pants?
A: I prefer a clean, simple image as opposed to a style that’s too fancy or extravagant. I went to the Met Ball as a representative of China so I hoped that I would be able to represent a radiant, simple and healthy/clean image.
Q: Were you nervous as the Met Ball was a star-studded event?
A: It was my first time participating in such an event, I was more or less somewhat nervous. It’s a good thing I was alright with the language so it was easy to communicate with everyone, and at least I could understand everything that was going on. That night, I saw many, many celebrities that I had only previously heard of, for example my all time favorite singers Jay Z and Usher, but as a shy fan, I didn’t go up to all of them to take pictures together. I was just very happy with stealing several glances at them.
Q: At the beginning of the year, your first movie achieved a good box office after its premiere, to you, what was your biggest achievement and biggest regret?
A: It was my first movie so it’s hard to gauge, if I had to rate it I would think that my performance barely passed. But there are people who said that making a movie is a form of art where you have to have regrets, my experience is never enough, so I can expect to do better. I’d have to wait for more of my works to be shown, only once I have something to compare it with then I’m able to give my opinion. But no matter what, I’ve taken my first step in acting, being an actor has always been my dream and now I’m finally on this route.
Q: What’s interesting about shooting movies?
A: There are some things that you have no way of predicting, which is especially nerve-wrecking. Especially emotional scenes, I usually don’t like to rehearse them too many times and would rather film straight away, because you’ll never know which filmed cut would be the most realistic, most natural reaction. Sometimes because of tech stuff or other reasons that it has to be re-filmed, but the same emotions cannot be fully achieved as before. Right now I’m researching on how to respond better, to have a more stable performance.
Q: Do you prefer acting in roles which have a personality similar to yours or differ greatly?
A: Great difference. Even though the team would give me many suggestions, but I would really like a challenging role, the most fun thing about being an actor is that you can experience a different kind of lifestyle, if you were to act in a role who’s leading a life that’s very similar to yourself, it will be meaningless. I especially like those roles that cannot happen in real life but can only be fulfilled in movies.
Q: Other than your appearance, what else do you feel that you possess has an advantage when it comes to being an actor?
A: I have lived in different areas and experienced a wider variety of teaching, so I have more diversified outlooks on life. When I was young there was a period of time I really enjoyed reading psychology and self-help books. I also read some books on body language, I like observing people as well, I will always first look at a person’s eyes, I feel that you can read a lot from one’s eyes. Perhaps this also helps me in my acting.
Q: Do you trust people easily?
A: I usually like to look at the good side of people, I won’t judge someone too early. People may not be what they seem to be, time is needed to know more about everyone, I feel that we shouldn’t judge a person as good or bad based on superficial things, otherwise this would be too unfair. Just like others see me, at times they may think I’m a little cold, but actually I’m rather warm on the inside. Everyone is the same, all deserving of a second chance.
Q: After receiving lots of attention, and being the center of it, do you have any insecurities?
A: Perhaps due to my experience while growing up, I wouldn’t really be affected by the outside world. When I first returned to China, I didn’t really think of the amount of people that would follow (pay attention to) me or such, because I was never aware of this point. I would accept all opinions, because I feel that this is a very normal thing, it’s necessary to look at good and bad comments from an unbiased point of view. Even though it may be criticism, it is a form of motivation for me to change, and spurs me on to improve. I like to do stuff quietly by myself, other than work reasons I don’t really like to leave the house. I feel that the most important thing is to be firm and settle down, really quieten down, don’t follow others blindly, but instead take things step by step in a down-to-earth manner.
Q: Recently there have been many famous directors who have invited you to be the lead actor in their movies, how do you feel about being able to work with them?
A: I’m really excited, and I too hope that my performance won’t let them down. I really enjoy everything that I do, because I feel that people have to do what they like and what makes them happy in order to do it well, which is the most important thing. To be able to work with so many seniors and “teachers”, to me the greatest benefit is that I can learn from them non-stop. Director Xu Jinglei was the first teacher who taught me stuff about about filming, is Feng Xiaogang and Guan Hu’s work, they’re real men, I’ve learn more things from a man’s perspective from them. Stephen Chow helped me open up a lot, and taught me a lot of body language. Actually at that time I had only made a guest appearance, Stephen Chow is one of my idols, upon seeing him it felt like the movies I watched when I was young had materialized in front of my eyes, and became real. Upon seeing some of his reactions and body language, it would make you think, ‘Wow! Acting can be done this way!’
Q: For example?
A: For example, his weird yet funny body movements… I’ve tried them before. Actually it’s just a matter of displaying your natural talent, don’t have to worry that much, an actor can’t be over-analytical, in order to really act out each role to its best.
Q: Has your previous experience onstage helped you with acting?
A: It made me much less nervous, because while standing onstage you have to face many people in the audience. You can’t be nervous when filming, if you’re nervous, the outcome won’t be good, so I had to have more confidence in myself. While acting out a role, if you don’t believe that you are him, the viewers won’t believe that you are him either. What makes me really nervous and excited is meeting my fans, they like to tease me and it makes me very shy.
Q: You used to dream of becoming a professional basketball player but because of your injury you had to give up your longtime dream, were you dejected at that time?
A: I was very dejected. The feeling of giving up a dream feels like losing a lover, like getting heartbroken. At that time my injury wasn’t life-threatening, I could still play basketball, just not professionally, so at that time I felt lost and didn’t know what to do. But since young I strongly believe that when heaven closes a door for you, heaven will also open another window. You won’t encounter a dead end in life. I have always felt that there are definitely things which I am able to do and achieve.
Q: You also didn’t bid farewell to basketball.
A: I’m actually pretty optimistic. Right now if I have the chance to, I will play basketball to keep fit, but since I’m so tall, if I get too muscular, clothes may not look good on me. However! In the future if there is the chance to, I will let everyone see my 8-pack!
Q: Do you worry about your appearance every time you go out?
A: I’ve actually never really paid much attention to my appearance. In the past I used to spend a lot of time matching my clothes before going out, but now that duration gets shorter and shorter, I’ll just have a glance and be done in probably in ten minutes or less. I also used to try on clothes before purchasing them, but these days when buying clothes, I’ll just take a look and if it’s ok I’ll just buy it, most of them time my judgement won’t be wrong. Of course, being a public figure, I feel that every time I make an appearance I should present myself the best that I can, including attire, as this is really a form of respect for those who like and support me. I also really love fashion, I will store some of my favorite items, and all along I have always greatly treasured my clothes. I can’t misplace even one piece, I’ll put them in a place, and gradually they pile up and accumulate… One thing I’m rather concerned about is what to do in the future with my wardrobe. I’m less fussy about other areas, before I sleep I’ll wash my face with facial cleanser, no need to apply moisturizer.
Q: You said you’ve always enjoyed reading books that are related to emotional growth. What philosophical beliefs do you have when it comes to life?
A: To have passion towards life, to have excitement while doing things I like, while putting in lots of hard work and effort. Everyone has to put in effort in order to reap rewards, and I strongly believe in this, it’s just a matter of timing and opportunity. Young people have to bravely go out and do what they wish to do, not be afraid of failure, not worry too much, because at this age, one should venture out into the world. You will never know what may happen, so go all out and you may emerge as a winner.
Q: How would you deal with negative emotions?
A: For the most I don’t have many negative emotions, I feel that it is unnecessary. At times I may feel that what I have done was not good enough, so what? I have already done my best. Everyone ought to be more open minded and cheerful. Also since everyone is working hard for themselves, I really hope that I can give more positivity towards a greater amount of people. I won’t be too overly concerned, perhaps my way of thinking is more simplistic; I’m not a person who is bothered too much by losses, what is meant to be yours will be yours, what isn’t meant to be yours, no matter how much you want it will not be yours, so I feel that there is no need to obsess over it.
Q: Who are the people who have the biggest influence over you?
A: One of them is my mother, she has forked out the most for me, and gave me the opportunity to learn through many different means. If I had the chance to exchange living a day in the life of someone else, I would wish to become her. Becoming a mother is really not easy, probably only those who have experienced motherhood will truly know its hardships. Another person is basketball player Kobe Bryant. Since young I have been playing basketball, and at 13 or 14 I watched a documentary on him. He woke up at 4 AM every morning to practice, and this stuck me deeply, at that time I felt that working hard was an essential skill. When I lived in Vancouver, I too would practice basketball for 4, 5 hours a day, in hopes of becoming a professional basketball player, and I persevered for very long. Everyone may have different dreams at different points in their lives, but the important thing is that one must definitely have a dream.
Q: You grew up in an environment with overlapping of cultures, did this benefit you?
A: The more varied outlooks on life a person has, the greater one’s stride of steps will be. Although I dare not praise myself, but this period of experience has enabled me to assimilate into new environments more easily. I would like to appeal to everyone to journey more, see more, because this world is truly amazing. Actually I would really like to try backpacking, traveling around on a bike, not interacting with the outside world, be at peace with myself – perhaps one day if you guys can’t find me, I would probably be gone away alone on a retreat.
Q:Will you be unable to part with your phone?
A: I would check for updates if I can’t take it. If I don’t look at my phone for a while, I’d think, [sigh], where’s my phone? Times are changing, it is getting harder to part with our electronic devices (because we are growing increasingly dependent on them), but I feel that we should spend some time to interact with nature, to return to where we first started from.
Q: Will you have many plans for the future, or do you prefer to live in the present and enjoy yourself?
A: I’m living in an exceptionally good time, many great opportunities come by at any time. I don’t have a exact, fixed goal for the future, but I hope that be it one year, three, five or ten, I will still be able to continue doing what I love to do, for example singing and acting. I hope that by that time I will become an even better Wu Yi Fan.
Trans © WuYifanKris