CONSENSUS OF ONE
Taiwanese actor Wang Ta Lu made it as an actor with more than just his good looks. He’s not your typical leading man, to say the least, as his mischievous side still needs a little getting used to. However, that could very well give him an edge over his r
Everyone knows what a celebrity is. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the so- named individual is driven to acquire fame at all costs. In fact, some who have earned such a label are hard workers who are introverts when the cameras aren’t flashing and the spotlight is turned off. What is meant by the term is a person whose appearance, behaviour, accomplishments, and public persona mark them out to be a magnetic presence through sheer charisma. “I love performing as a child,” recalls Wang Ta Lu. He isn’t the blatant social climber and partying young punk who could be a handful for his managers and handlers. “It gives me great pleasure to be able to delight and entertain an audience. I feel extremely happy and lucky to be given the opportunity to be an actor.”
There is nothing more exasperating to an actor than being compared to another actor. It’s like a backhanded compliment, isn’t it? Here we are, carefully avoiding pigeon- holing this promising Taiwanese artiste for fear that our estimation falls short of what he is capable of, and there he is prattling away about why it doesn’t matter anyway. “I feel a rush of adrenaline when I hear the applause of those who appreciate the effort I’ve put into a role,” he says. “It helps me to overcome the inertia of taking on the next project or assignment.”
One way of sorting out the problem is to compare his swagger to athletes such as Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan. Yes, Wang has the same bad boy vibe of a baller who struts and flexes with glee. It’s also no coincidence that his Instagram account is a study in facial expressions interjected by a tribute to the recently retired NBA legend, Kobe Bryant. Wang still plays basketball in his downtime. He goes by Darren Wang, but we’ll stick to Ta Lu that he explains isn’t a stage name. “That’s my real name!” he asserts in jest.
It is great fun listening to Wang introduce his younger self to you. “I was blessed to have acting and commercial gigs at an early age,” the 25-year- old would say. “Unfortunately, I didn’t take them seriously and was reprimanded by a director who said I was a diamond in the rough, but my lack of work ethic was such a waste of talent. It was the wakeup call I needed.” It’s also heartening to learn that he has decided to take a chill pill and not let his eagerness push him into the “flame- out” category, as commercially successful as he is now as an up-and- coming commodity with acting roles in hit movies such as Our Times and Design 7 Love.
Evidently, Wang isn’t the alcohol-addled, live- hard-and- die-young River Phoenix type. We’re biased, of course, because we believe a young Robert Downey Jr. falling off the edge unleashed his immense talent, making his portrayal of the flawed Tony Stark that much more compelling and relatable. However, that isn’t the prescription we’ll be doling out to this promising young man. “I just need to rein it in a tad,” he concurs.
“My ability to focus during crunch time helps,” he adds. “At the end of it all, I need to settle down and work hard. I’m happy with where I am now, and such is life that we always learn from our mistakes. Only fools repeat them. For example, as a child, I was reminded by a teacher that even a white lie is dangerous. That’s something that I carry with me. To be honest and sincere in terms of how I carry myself and it also translates into an honesty when I’m portraying a character.”
And so, he readily admits that he doesn’t mind following the similar path that Joseph Chang, best known for his role in Eternal Summer, took to his success. That would be a fairly tried-and-true career arc, but he takes us on a quick detour and decides that a gig with legendary Hong Kong funny man Stephen Chow is the mad, bad and awesome punch line that he wants on his resume as well. “The packaging does not matter,” he says, assured of his hierarchy in the pyramid as a promising star. “What’s more important is our compass in life. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down in life. You just got to get back up.”
However, before you march away deriding his flawless features for getting in the way of his funny bone, he clarifies that it is mischievous characters such as Sun Wukong (the Monkey King) and Wei Xiaobao in The Deer and the Cauldron that he would like to reinvigorate with his own brand of brash cheekiness. “There are way too many takes on these two iconic characters,” he acknowledges. “Yet, I would love to try my hand at giving them my own flair and wit. I’m committed to reinventing myself and prepared when there is an opportunity to take on a challenging role. I want to play complex characters that are suave, arrogant, bumbling, and ironically humorous all the same.”
Easier said than done, but we’re certain that Wang is well on his way to becoming the versatile actor he wishes to be. After going through the different stages of a budding artiste, he also realises that sometimes, a smirk and a raised eyebrow is all it takes to weather the hard times in his career. “Everyone has his or her niche,” he concludes. “We play to our strength and make that incremental progress with the end goal in sight. I’m living my dream and it gives me motivation to move forward. All I have to do is work hard, work hard, and work hard.”