Tang Wei: Ac­tress Straight­for­ward

China Pictorial (English) - - Fea­tures - Text by Yin Rong

Some have said that she is not es­pe­cially pretty, but has a cer­tain glam­our. “A girl like Tang Wei would not be pop­u­lar in the main­land of China,” Di­rec­tor Ang Lee once said. “She ap­plied for Act­ing Depart­ment of Cen­tral Academy of Drama three times but was re­jected be­cause she was not typ­i­cally good­look­ing. Fi­nally, she was ad­mit­ted to Di­rect­ing Depart­ment. She looks just like a his­tory teacher from long ago. This dis­po­si­tion is hardly found in Chi­nese young peo­ple. Even the ex­pres­sions when she talks are like a his­tory teacher from the past.”

Tang’s spe­cial charm could be rooted in her home­town and fam­ily. In 1979, Tang was born in Hangzhou, a city spoiled by na­ture and nur­tured by cul­ture. Her fa­ther is a painter and cal­lig­ra­pher. Her mother was an ac­tress. From young age, Tang stud­ied paint­ing and grad­u­ated from an art school in 1997. Be­cause she was not a typ­i­cal beauty in many peo­ple’s eyes, few peo­ple thought she could be­come an ac­tress.

How­ever, Tang be­came an ac­tress and even an ex­cel­lent one. Her work in Ang Lee’s Lust, Cau­tion won her global fame and the Best New Artist Award at Tai­wan’s Golden Horse Film Fes­ti­val. The me­dia in Hong Kong praised her per­for­mance with the word “stun­ning.” “If Ang Lee scores a 99.9, Tang, as a new­comer, gets full marks,” said Hong Kong ac­tor Chow Yun-fat.

Tang played Wang Ji­azhi in Lust, Cau­tion, a col­lege girl dur­ing the Repub­lic of China (1912-1949) pe­riod, and the sub­ject of The Golden Era, a bi­o­graph­i­cal film about Xiao Hong, a fa­mous fe­male writer of the same era, two roles for which she seemed a nat­u­ral fit. In Wu Xia, she played a ragged ru­ral woman, and as a money-wor­ship­ping ex­pec­tant mother in Find­ing Mr. Right, she changed many fans’ view on her: Tang can do more than just lit­er­ary fig­ures. Tang has not worked much, only ap­pear­ing in one or two movies a year, but she still wins awards one after an­other. “If I am mod­est and hon­est, my ca­reer as an ac­tress can last longer,” she says.

Lust, Cau­tion’s story is mostly set in Hong Kong in 1938 and in Shanghai in 1942, when the lat­ter was oc­cu­pied by the Ja­panese army and ruled by a pup­pet govern­ment. It de­picts a group of Chi­nese univer­sity stu­dents who plot to as­sas­si­nate a high-rank­ing of­fi­cial (played by Tony Le­ung) of the pup­pet govern­ment us­ing an at­trac­tive young woman to lure him into a trap. After the film was re­leased, its graphic and vi­o­lent sex scenes caused Tang to be black­listed. Dis­ap­pear­ing from pub­lic sight, Tang headed to Lon­don Academy of Mu­sic and Dra­matic Art to study, where her English be­came even more flu­ent. In Late Au­tumn, a Korean art­house film di­rected by Tae-yong Kim, al­most all of Tang’s lines were in English, even a part she im­pro­vised. In en­ter­tain­ment cir­cles, Tang still keeps a low-pro­file: She never opened so­cial me­dia ac­counts, isn’t seen in pub­lic with dates, doesn’t re­tain a pub­li­cist and rarely re­ceives in­ter­views. She spends most of her free time read­ing and at­tend­ing the the­ater.

Her nat­u­ral and straight­for­ward at­ti­tude has drawn many fans and won the me­dia’s fa­vor. Me­dia out­lets in Hong Kong and Tai­wan like her be­cause she is not ag­gres­sive with them. Re­porters of the Chi­nese main­land like her be­cause her per­fect bal­ance of tra­di­tional dis­po­si­tion and de­meanor shaped by her over­seas stud­ies, a blend hardly found in con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese ac­tresses. Korean di­rec­tor Tae-yong Kim was also en­am­ored, and they mar­ried in July 2014.

Tang grad­u­ally reached some spe­cial sta­tus: She nei­ther tries to please any­one nor show­boats. She is per­pet­u­ally nat­u­ral and aloof.

Su Shi, a renowned poet of the North­ern Song Dy­nasty (9601127), com­pared West Lake to Xi Shi, one of the most beau­ti­ful women in China’s his­tory, and ex­claimed: “No mat­ter heavy makeup or light, she is el­e­gant.” The same could be said of Tang Wei.

Tang Wei in a still from Find­ing Mr. Right 2. CFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.