Although she has little experience with comedy, Gao Yuanyuan is glad to have chemistry with her co-star Huang Haibo. Image: Celestial Movies
Dressed in a lovely white gown and carrying a bouquet of flowers, Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, 34, looks every bit the radiant bride. Except that the man beside her is not her dashing beau, Taiwanese-Canadian actor Mark Chao, 29.
Instead, it is top Chinese actor Huang Haibo, 37, who completes the picture of wedded bliss – for the 50-episode television drama, We Get Married. It is currently airing on Celestial Movies from Mondays to Fridays at 11pm.
Gao plays Yang Tao, a woman wary of love after getting cheated once, while Huang plays Guo Ran, a man terrified of getting married.
Unlike most actresses of her generation, Gao did not graduate from drama school.
Instead, she was spotted on the street in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping district and was first cast in commercials.
She made her film debut as a schoolboy’s object of affection in Zhang Yang’s well-received drama Spicy Love Soup (1997) and has gone on to work steadily on both the big and small screens.
Some of her best-known works include martial arts series The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber (2003), critically acclaimed film Shanghai Dreams (2005) and the historical war drama City Of Life And Death (2009).
1. What were the challenges of making We Get Married?
I felt at first that the script had a lot of comedy elements in it. Although I haven’t had that much experience with comedy and didn’t have the confidence I could do it very well, I was still willing to take it on as a challenge. The fact that I hadn’t done a TV series in six years also made this a challenge.
2. Are there similarities that you share with Yang Tao?
I think I’m quite similar to her when it comes to views on love and our value systems. She might think that although I’m well qualified, I don’t need to look for someone who is compatible from an economic standpoint.
In the series, she keeps saying: “Don’t talk to me about conditions.”
What she’s more concerned with is something more qualitative, whether the other person makes her feel secure and whether he’s dependable.
3. What was it like working with Huang Haibo?
After thoroughly absorbing the script, we would follow our gut and do a little improvisation on set sometimes. I’ve never worked with a male actor for such a long time before and to have this kind of chemistry with Haibo, this is something one can only dream of. He’s an actor who’s on the same frequency as me.
4. Is marriage something that you and Mark Chao have discussed?
At the moment, my parents are not giving me pressure in this regard. I really enjoy the time I have living with my parents because I know that I will get married at some point. So, in this limited time, I hope to spend more time with them. Marriage is something that will happen when the time is right, there’s no need to be so anxious about it.
5. Given that your education background is not in drama, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Because I was not trained in performance, it was tougher for me to grasp acting from the start.
Nobody tells you what you should do, so all my knowledge had to be accumulated from my experiences. But, in a way, it’s also an advantage.
Without the restrictions of a formulaic approach, perhaps I get to be more free and natural in my acting.
6. Johnnie To is a director you have worked with several times, in films such as Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (2011), Romancing In Thin Air (2012) and the upcoming Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2. What is it like working with him?
He’s a director I respect very much and I look upon him as a father. He’s very fond of me and treats me like a daughter. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was my very first foray into comedy. And that comic sense you see from me was all due to his coaching.
7. You have been doing more romances in recent years. Is that a deliberate choice?
I don’t think I would reject anything out of hand. Though I have to say that I’m not too keen on action flicks because I just don’t think I’m cut out to be an action heroine who does fight scenes.
At present, I want to do the things I’m good at well. If you talk about challenges, it doesn’t mean that a role which has great contrasts would be harder to play. And you don’t necessarily have to play a character who’s very different from yourself in order to be successful.
Only when I’ve accumulated enough experience will I want to try things that are more distant from me. I’m happy to take things slow, I’m past the stage where I’m in a rush to prove myself.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
Actors should let their works speak for themselves. So I definitely hope to give audiences works and roles that will stay in their hearts.
We Get Married is showing on Celestial Movies (StarHub TV Channel 868 and SingTel mio TV Channel 585) from Mondays to Fridays at 11pm.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on April 14, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.