On the day of the Mr. Six Beijing premiere, less than three hours before the red carpet began, Kris Wu Yi Fan was watching a show in one of the rooms of a hotel near Dongzhimen. The cameras were rolling, and Kris Wu just sat there silently for ten seconds, after which he suddenly let out “Uncle Li is very mad, the consequences will be severe!” (line from Feng Xiaogang’s <A World Without Thieves>) Ok, taking a look at Kris Wu’s face and then at Ge You (actor who played Uncle Li), we have nothing more to say. The next shot was the entertainment program director presenting a phrase. Kris Wu glanced at it and said with eyes full of confusion to the person beside him, “What does it mean, “In the name of the moon, I will punish you”.“ What? He doesn’t know of <Sailor Moon>? Gosh, Mr Wu, you must really not be from this world.
It was because of such a scenario that SE Weekly was surprised. The energetic Kris Wu in front of us totally did not have the persona he previously had. The persona he previously had was… Cold and aloof. After returning from Korea for more than a year, be it filming movies or shooting for fashion magazines, Kris Wu would always present a cold and cool image to the cameras. This style was what entranced many Meigeni deeply. But, it was also tough on SE Weekly and fellow media to meet stars who did not speak much. Previously when Kris Wu spoke, it was like his words were of gold (he was a man of few words). It was not surprising as Kris Wu had received training from the Korean entertainment industry, where their artistes are one of those with the heaviest idol “packaging”. After having his cold and aloof image for so long, Mr Wu has become one of the many who are experts at it.
Never would we have expected, the Kris Wu today was still as tall (高) as ever, yet his cold (冷) side had disappeared. (高冷 means cold and aloof but when separated, 高 means tall and 冷 means cold) He sat in front of our SE Weekly reporter, not only did he answer every question, but also talked on and on like Tang Monk when it came to his interests. “I’m a person who is slow to warm up, when I’ve warmed up I’m like this,” he said with a smile. It seems that after having come back to the Chinese entertainment for so long, MR.凡先生 (his Weibo username) has slowly warmed up to it.
Besides being a story about brotherhood, <Mr Six> also shows the deep relationship between father and son. For the sake of his “son” Li Yifeng, “Liu Ye” Feng Xiaogang risked his life, which “Xiao Fei” Kris Wu was very envious of. “Xiao Fei is not a bad kid. His family is very well off. It’s just that his father never gave him much care and concern. He’s a person who is extremely lacking of his father’s love.” That’s right, in <Mr Six>, Xiao Fei’s corrupt official father has provided him with a variety of luxury cars and large sums of money to have fun with. However not once did he make an appearance. During the final ending scene, Liu Ye brandished his sword, taking on Xiao Fei’s father’s men alone, and Kris Wu felt that, “Xiao Fei finally must have thought, Liu Ye is like my father…”
Kris Wu entered the film industry with two films and his characters were of whom had wealthy fathers but no fatherly love. His character in <Mr Six> and likewise his character in <Somewhere Only We Know>, who had become a single father. Perhaps it is a coincidence, Kris Wu also grew up in a single parent family, with only his mother in his life. Although they are from different generations, Feng Xiaogang grew up in a similar environment, where he was single-handedly raised by his mother. After coming to know of this, Kris Wu had a deeper understanding of this film industry’s Lao Pao Er. “Director Feng would have more of a (fatherly) emotion while playing his role of a father.”
Speaking of a “father who is absent”, Kris Wu expressed that, “Because I was raised in a single parent family, so I did not have much of that (father-son relationship).” If that was the case, then what would Kris Wu’s ideal father be like? “A man who can keep situations in order, can take on tasks, and is responsible.” Kris Wu, who had been chatting on continuously earlier on, paused for a moment when he reached this question. Even though girlfriend(s) and marriage are topics that are distant from Kris Wu, but, he has thought of having child(ren) years later in the future. “(I) would have a greater urge to become a good father.”
Kris Wu was the one who suggested for Xiao Fei’s hair be dyed silver grey. Director Guan Hu initially hoped that Kris Wu in the movie would “remain as the Kris Wu everyone was familiar with”. Of course, at the same time there was to be some change in appearance. Kris Wu said, “If Xiao Fei were to dye his hair, it should be silver grey.” To which, Guan Hu immediately agreed.
Kris Wu maintained this hair color until the movie was about to end filming, whereby he suddenly dyed it back to black. That time, because of the trouble Xiao Fei created, there was a huge possibility that even his own corrupt official father could be incriminated. To a youth in his early twenties, this was something extremely major. Later on, his rival Liu Ye came to negotiate with him. Actually, this was the first scene which Kris Wu had to film after joining the Mr Six team, and he confessed that he was “really worried that he could not grasp the feel of Xiao Fei”. Director Guan Hu discussed about Xiao Fei with Kris Wu, giving much advice time and again. “You definitely can’t portray him to be a bad guy, otherwise there would be no difference between him and the antagonists of other films, he has to have his own childish personality.” In that movie, it was not only Xiao Fei, but also the Kris Wu behind him, who transformed into a man.
After filming <Mr Six>, Kris Wu Yi Fan shaved of his hair for his role as Tang Monk in <Journey to the West: Demon Chapter>, directed by Tsui Hark and produced by Stephen Chow. Everyone soon saw cute pictures of shaven-head Fan on his Weibo account “Mr_凡先生”, compared with his previous hairstyles which were not out of the ordinary, SE Weekly felt that this rounded, bare head was a more impactful look.
“In the past, I never thought I would have to shave off all my hair in this lifetime, because even to guys, hair is still very important.” Talking about hair, Kris Wu Yi Fan subconsciously touched the back of his head, where just a few millimeters of hair had begun to grow already. He admitted that when he first shaved off all his hair, he said that he felt “really lacking in sense of security” when he touched his bare head. For a long period of time, he was embarrassed to be seen by others with this bare head of his. “I really had no self-confidence.” Kris Wu also did some data statistics analyses – “After shaving off all of my hair, I took selfies 5-6 times much or less.”
With regards to hair, Kris Wu expressed, “There are gains and there are losses, all in all, it’s good.” Without hair, he was ready to play the role (of Tang Monk). Because Kris Wu did not have much understanding of Tsui Hark’s directing style, the first time he met him, he was rather uncertain. Unexpectedly, after the audition, Tsui Hark told him, “The monk’s robes, beaded necklace and whatnot, take them all home, to practice with when you’re free.” As such, the role of the tallest Tang Monk in history was settled.
To be honest, the fact that Kris Wu does not know of <Sailor Moon> surprised SE Weekly greatly, as this Japanese anime character is a legend amongst 80s and 90s kids. Could Kris Wu really be an exception?! And so our test begins: <Dragon Ball>, <Yu Yu Hakusho>, <One Piece>, <Naruto>… And his answer for all was: Never watched. Well it’s good that the exception has an exception, at least Kris Wu has watched <Slam Dunk> anime. Because of this passionate sports series, Kris Wu started to like basketball.
Then comes the question, as a youth who does not watch anime, what does he do in his spare time for his wellbeing? Read Chicken Soup For the Soul books and inspirational guides. Upon hearing this, SE Weekly even forgot what the next question was supposed to be. Oh, that’s right, why so? Kris Wu confessed, “When I was young, I was a kid who didn’t have much self confidence.” In his youth, Kris Wu went back and forth countries with his mother, China and abroad, and transferring schools was a common occurrence, just as he had begun to get familiar with classmates, he would have to leave again, and thus his self esteem was lowered. “For example during lunchtime, everyone else would gather in cliques, but I would be alone.” For Kris Wu, this process repeated many times. After some time, Kris Wu wondered if it was really his own self who was unable to get along with others. The period of adolescence is a sensitive time in life, yet Kris Wu’s life was so turbulent. Fortunately this youth found his own remedy, as a teenager, Kris Wu became an loyal reader of Chicken Soup, philosophical books, inspirational guides, embarking on the long road of self-help reading…
Chicken Soup books? Are they really useful? “(They’re) useful!” Kris Wu immediately turned into the Chicken Soup prince. However his experience with the right way of using Chicken Soup was, “It would only be useful (in shaping your values) when you are like a blank sheet of paper, without fixed values on life.” Of course, Kris Wu confessed, that even though Chicken Soup was good, not every bowl had to be used, but instead the theories had to be put into practice.
After finding his remedy of Chicken Soup, Kris Wu finally found a way he could socialise – that was to play basketball. Because it was a team sport, on court teamwork was required to play a good game, and off court it was easy to put one’s arm around another’s shoulders (bond with each other) and become bros. “Basketball let me gain back a huge amount of self-confidence,” Kris Wu confessed. After entering the entertainment industry, Kris Wu became so incredibly busy that it was hard to even play basketball once a month. However the basketball friends he made during that time are still his good friends till this day.
Today this youth has become a man, 25 year old Kris Wu. He has long stopped reading Chicken Soup but who knows, perhaps in a few years, he can write his own <Complete Guide to being an Idol> book.
Did you watch any movies directed by Guan Hu and Feng Xiaogang before acting in Mr Six?
I have a better understanding of Feng Xiaogang’s movies, <The Dream Factory> and <Assembly>. I’ve watched more of his more recent movies. As for Director Guan Hu, I have only had a slight understanding of him before, I know he is an extremely talented director.
Feng Xiaogang is the Lao Pao Er of the film industry, how did you feel when you first acted with him?
When I first saw him I didn’t dare to make eye contact with him, at that time I thought, “I have to shoot with him, my character still has to confront him” and I was very nervous. Also in addition to that, for the scene between Feng Xiaogang and I, we had to make eye contact for quite a prolonged period of time. Director Guan Hu told me, eye contact was very important during those scenes between men, if something was a little off, the feel would not be there and the scene would not be filmed right.
It was a good thing I was acting with Director Feng, when you look at him you will feel that Liu Ye is standing right there, it’s very easy to get into character too. However, it is as soon as the director yells CUT, that I would not dare to make eye contact with Mentor Xiaogang again.
On set, did Feng Xiaogang guide you (like a senior guides a junior)?
Yes, we practiced lines together, and he would remind me to say certain lines in a certain manner. As for acting, Feng Xiaogang gave me immense help.
From an idol romance film like <Somewhere Only We Know> to <Mr Six> and <Journey to the West: Demon Chapter>, you seem to have taken the initiative to widen your acting path.
Actually I hope to try out different kinds of roles, I’m really afraid of limiting myself to a certain type [of role]. Firstly it’s because I would not have any inspiration if I keep acting in the same genre of films, and secondly I’m worried that my acting choices will be more and more limited, and there would be no breakthrough, which is what I feel that actors fear the most. Hence, I feel that looking at it in the long run, it is really necessary to try out different types of roles.
Was this your own thinking or was it a decision with your team?
Actually it’s mainly my idea(s), I am more strong-minded, I know clearly the direction I want to go in life and my goals. Actually before filming my first movie I had already thought about it, I can’t just film only idol type (movies), I can’t just rely on my appearance to make a living. Firstly, this in itself will not be able to last long term, and secondly I feel we shouldn’t only look at one’s appearance, but their inner qualities are extremely important. If you always let me act the role of a wealthy second generation youth, I won’t know how to act someone who’s tall, rich handsome.
But, these two years, everyone has been talking about you and other same-generation idol actors using the term “little fresh meat”, what do you think of this title?
Honestly speaking I do not really take a liking to the term “little fresh meat”. Recently, seniors around me including Feng Xiaogang feel that using the term “Little Fresh Meat” would seem to be kind of a waste. But no matter how others say it, you cannot completely refute others’ comments [about you]. Of course, I prefer the title Feng Xiaogang gave me, “Xiao Ye”, because this description is very solid, one’s looks need not always be brought up [as a focal point] because everyone has different tastes in appearance, some may like radishes and some may like green vegetables, the only thing you can leave behind is your works.
This time you’re acting in <Journey to the West: Demon Chapter>, and you have also guest starred in <Mermaid>. For you to act in comedies is really far from your cold and aloof image in the past.
Stephen Chow is my idol, working with Stephen Chow this time has greatly increased my passion for comedies. His comedies are different from many other comedies in this day. The comedies now are just to make you have a laugh, being silly for the sake of being silly. I feel that Stephen Chow’s films still have his own emotions in them, even having some sad elements to them as well. This is what I look up to him for the most.
How was it like working with Stephen Chow in <Journey to the West: Demon Chapter>?
Stephen Chow is the producer, he doesn’t spend a lot of time visiting the set. However I saw Tsui Hark every day, at first I was very nervous, later on I realized that he would be very strict towards the staff and crew but not once did he get angry with the actors. With actors he was always like “You can try this out, let’s do another take”, he was a director which gave actors room to develop their own acting.
These two years, with your high popularity, surely there must be a large number of directors or investors who have approached you, asking you to act [in their productions], and some of these would definitely be merely making use of your popularity. What do you think of it?
Actually there are such movies. But as I have mentioned previously, I would try to take up different types of films, to reduce the amount [of acting in films of a similar genre]. Why is this so? Fans would not want to see you act the same thing every time, if you act the same role it will merely just be using up their (money). If you act something different, first don’t say if it is good or not, at the very least they would say “This time I’ll be able to see a different Wu Yi Fan when I make a trip to the cinema, the movie ticket is worth it.” Right now the Chinese film industry is developing very well, there are many films which are like fast food, made very quickly and starring some hot young idol(s). Of course, these types of movies cannot all be criticized on the whole, there are some good ones too. But in my opinion I would prefer taking the time to shoot and producing a good piece of work, this way will it be possible for one to have a breakthrough. By doing such, I feel that I may not be able to completely prevent, but at least for the most, greatly decrease the possibility of wasting fans’ resources.
Kris Wu Yi Fan and Rourou
I had really wanted to get a dog at that time, but I didn’t know which breed to get. At first I wanted a Husky or German Shepard, but I feel that in this situation [with my schedule] I wouldn’t have much time to walk the dog. These breeds require much exercise, otherwise it would not be healthy for them. Finally I decided on a toy poodle, because not much time would be required to walk it, any free time at home would be enough to play with it.
I have a good relationship with Rourou, it’s just that I don’t see it often. Rourou is really like a child, so [taking care of it] brings out my fatherly love, every day I would coach it, right now it has learnt several moves, it’s rather smart and obedient.
Trans © wu_yi_fan