“Jade Palace Lock Heart” or in short “Palace” has became one of the most popular drama TV series in China in the recent months.
A story of a modern day girl Luo Qing Chuan with a love of history who accidentally time traveled back in time to Emperor Kang Xi’s era of the Qing dynasty. She becomes embroiled in the princes’ struggle for the throne and is torn between her love for Yin Si, the eighth prince, and Yin Zhen, the fourth prince and future Emperor Yong Zheng. Caught in the crossfire of political intrigue, her wit and historical knowledge serves her well in her bid to stay alive as she begins to realize that true history is much darker and uglier than books portray.
The eighth prince, played by Feng Shaofeng therefore gained popularity and became now “the hottest actor of historical dramas”. The following is MOP People Weekly’s interview with Feng. (Translated by Jue)
Brief Introduction of Feng Shaofeng
Chinese name: Feng Shaofeng
English name: William Feng
Nickname: Feng Wei
Ethnic group: Han
Birthday: October 7th 1978
Profession: Screen actor
Graduation: Shanghai Theater Academy Chain
Entertainment Agency: Huayi Bros. Media Group
Representative works: “The Girl in Blue”, “Nvren Hua”, “Palace”
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, English
Favorite novel: The Date in Sydney
Pet: Alaskan malamute
Hobbies: Performance, travelling, singing, racing, reading, playing games, tennis, swimming, outdoor sports
Favorite job: Singer, actor
Favorite music: R&B
Favorite color: Black, white, blue
Ideal resort: Greece, France, Hawaii
Favorite drinking: Cola
Favorite movie: The Godfather I, II, III
Capacity for liquor: never drink so far
Singing work: Moon Flower
Advertisement: Chevrolet EPICA
Personality: Easygoing and modest
Mop People Weekly (M): You are now the hottest young actor, would you share your feelings with our friends?
Feng Shaofeng (F): Why is “Palace” so popular? I’m sure it’s owing to the combination of the wonderful script, talented director, diligent performers, excellent broadcasting platform and other factors. On the way to success, an actor needs not only opportunities, but also perseverance, which is the most important. Besides, he must keep moving in the right way. The role of The Eighth Prince just lets more audience to know and pay attention to Feng Shaofeng, which is just a beginning for me. I’ll be more careful and cautious when picking the script and role because I hope to challenge roles I’ve never played, but most importantly, I’ll choose the scripts and roles which can strike a chord. Only in this way can I effortlessly perform the role.
M: You were born in Shanghai and graduated from Shanghai Theater Academy Chain, so are there any places you feel proud to introduce to and recommend us?
F: The Bund and Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower are typical places of Shanghai.
M: You are not a new actor who created by sensation; on the contrary, you are an actor with quite a few works in the show business. In the early years, most times you stared as refined gentleman in the Historical Drama TV series. How do you feel about this kind of role?
F: In the early years, mostly, I played the wealthy son in tv series with a seriously historical theme. So I often think the way I perform is kind of stiff, and I always believe that an actor must set himself close to life. Even playing an ancient person, the actor must strike a chord with the modern audience in the end. Especially for “Palace”, it must move the modern people.
M: As for Palace which is currently extremely popular, the audiences have so much to ask you. For example, for the role of Yinsi which is quite different from the roles you played before, your performance is more than good, which makes people knowing little about you start to like you and people knowing you a lot start to discover you again. Would you share your understanding of the performance in this series?
F: Well, actually I’d experienced a very troublesome course. At first I couldn’t act as if I was Yinsi so I was extremely anxious and couldn’t fall asleep. However, Yang Mi comes from the modern time, so she has more room than me to interpret the role. Therefore I’d always managed to adjust myself to strike a balance between our performance. Later I figured out even if I wear what ancient people wore and say what they said, I could still be close to the life now. Why not learn to speak the lines in the way we modern people do? Moreover, the ancient people couldn’t be always speaking Classical Chinese, so it would be more fantastic and reasonable when I did it this way, which is also the reason why I put this role closer to real life.
M: There are many A-list actresses casting in Palace including the hot actress Yang Mi, Sonija Kwok, Maggie Siu and Leanne who have been famous for long time, have you learned a lot from them and who’s your favorite actress?
F: Yang Mi is a good friend of mine who’s very lively, straightforward and yet responsible. She is serious about the job and sincere to friends. When shooting scenes together, some wild ideas always popped into our minds which helped us to bring fresh inspiration to each other. It seemed we had a tacit understanding. And Leanne, I’ve been working together with her in 3 plays which are Yunniang, Diamond Giants and Palace, and we also had a mutual understanding.
M: If you had a chance to choose a role in Palace again, which one do you prefer and why?
F: I would still pick The Eighth Prince who has experienced a period of transformation. The reason why so many people are fond of him is that he is a person with multiple personalities. He could be lively, overbearing, affectionate and lovely, but calculating and cruel on the other hand. However he turns himself into a child when staying with Qiangchuan. He’s rich in personality. He has a masculine side, he would fight and even die for his beloved. Yet he also has an amiable side which is shown in the fair competition between him and Xiao Chun who’s a civilian. As we can see, he’s so vivid with merits and weaknesses, and we seem to see ourselves in him.
M: You must have made great efforts to interpret the role of Yinsi. Then what kind of role do you prefer, the complicated and even overbearing role or the simple and coward one?
F: Certainly I’ve played spooney man many times but in fact I want to star as a bad guy most who’s originally good and kind. He may do things which are regarded as evil and controversial by others, but he has a tender and kind heart indeed. I think this kind of man will be more vivid with clear characteristics, he’s not only true but also glamorous.
M: As we have asked so many questions about Palace at a stretch, let’s turn to another subject now. You have been a mature man in your thirties, you always leave us an impression that you are a simple and "lukewarm" man without shrewdness, is there a intimate female who gives you advice?
F: I have many close friends in show business and we’ll recommend each other if there’s a good script or a suitable role. For instance, I once recommended An Yixuan to the series Lock Qingqiu then we worked together in it, and after finishing Palace with Yang Mi, she recommended me to director Guo Baochang and we co-starred in Fifteen Strings of Coins Legend.
M: For your future life partner, what do you expect?
F: I like girl who is lively and easygoing, and as straightforward as me. If she’s really my cup of tea, I’ll do my utmost to win her heart.
M: The secret of staying popular in the show business is to be loved by everyone,. The most convincing representative is Andy Lau,while many other stars such as Jacky Cheung prefer to share their emotional worlds. So which way will you follow, the former or the latter?
F: Just let it be, see what happens later.
M: Since the two sequels to Palace has been confirmed, we’re sure there’s a bright future waiting for you and a great many corporations will invite you to take part in their advertisements and be their product spokesperson, so do the movie invitations of course. Then for your fans, would you say something to them from the bottom of your heart? And through your efforts, what kind of achievements will you have?
F: Palace is so popular among the audience, so I must be more cautious to choose the next roles and I hope to challenge the role I’ve never played, but most importantly, I’ll choose the scripts and role which can strike a chord with me. Only in this way can effortlessly act in the role.
M: TV series, movies and singing are inseparable from each other, we believe you must make great achievements in TV series. Then in the field of movie, what’s your next plan after making a guest appearance in If You Are the One II?
F: I’ve starred as Wit Chen Zilong in the film Liu Rushi last year, I hope it will come out this year. As for my plan, of course I hope to work with excellent directors.
M: In your brief introduction, you want to be a singer the most, then an actor, and singing is listed in your interests, activities and specialities. So it seems that releasing a single or an album will be on your schedule?
F: I really love singing, but now I must focus on acting. Of course I hope my agency will arrange a single or an album for me one day.
M: We won’t ask much about your family because some netizens tend to gossip about actors’ families. According to them, actors must have gained the roles by paying money if they are from a rich family, or through "connections" if they have no money. We just want to ask, the abuse always follows the great which you can’t avoid, and every actor and actress must stand those subjective assess and unwarranted criticism. So for this, do you feel confused especially when currently your career and popularity have stepped onto a new stage?
F: I don’t feel confused but surely those things put pressure on me. Since others have a higher expectation for me, so I must strive to learn more and be more low-key to get on with others, and more modest to accept criticism from others.
M: There’s no doubt your Qing Dynasty style look in Palace is quite successful, some netizens joked that "bald" are more suitable for your than short hair. How do you think the assessment that you are more suitable to play a man of Qing Dynasty than a modern man?
F: It was my first time to shave all my hair when shooting the scenes for Palace, and I also hesitated for some time. First, I turned my long hair into short, than took a butch haircut, finally shaved all my hair when I got to our group. I just wanted to be used to it step by step. I’m so glad that my look is so welcome. No matter how ugly and bald the roles looked, I’ll try them if needed.
M: The whole process of our growth makes up our whole life. How do you think the merits and weaknesses in your personality and your performance?
F: I am easygoing and straightforward in daily life. While in my performance, most time I starred in those series set in Republic of China and ancient time, so I hope to try some different roles. There are two kinds of plays, one is that you will read the script from beginning to end at a stretch, and the other is that a concept of how to interpret the role will hit you as soon as you read the role. If the script is good enough to give me fresh ideas and strong inspiration, I’ll pick the role.
M: You have been in show business as an actor for ten years but you never lose your refinement which is quite the opposite for the transformation of Yinsi in Palace. How do you keep your pure pursuit and love for performance?
F: I’ve been fond of acting since I was a child, so it’s important to maintain your enthusiasm for this job. I think the process of shooting scenes which always brings new challenges and fresh feelings helps me to build and experience different lives.
M: As a rule, in the end we’ll let our interviewers express their appreciation and gratitude to the people who always stand by their side. It’s by no means smooth along your way, just say some words to those you always want to thank?
F: Thanks you, all my fans who have been always supporting me from the time I was unknown till now. Your support is my strongest motive. I’ll keep moving and give you better works.
Feng on cover of Men’s Health, more from Sina