Aside from Liu Haoran’s August 2018 interview with Men’s Uno, he also had short features in Men’s Uno Young (he was the cover star for August 2018) and in the September 2018 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Because these were not released electronically, I didn’t realize that they existed until I saw some HQ scans from C-fans. Both are relatively short, but are rather nice pieces, which is why we wanted to share them.
The Harper’s Bazaar one may sound like it’s written by a fan, but promise it’s not, ha – in case you couldn’t tell from the interviews that we’ve posted so far (all from major magazines), the media really, really loves him.
(Men’s Uno Young! – August 2018 issue: Boy Island)
The Liu Haoran that exists in the eye of the public is someone who has a maturity level and reliability that surpasses his age, but according to himself, there really isn’t anything different about him in comparison to same-aged peers. Sure, he’s tone-deaf, isn’t very coordinated, and has a weird sense of humor.
He likes to watch livestreams and has raised snakes, spiders, and other unusual pets. He’s incredibly daring, and yet he will never watch a horror film on his own. And he admits, he’s extremely hardheaded in that when he makes a decision, he won’t look back. When he plays games, he won’t quit until he’s passed the level – he will walk to the very end.
But those who know him will say with certainty that he’s someone who stands out from the crowd. He’s incredibly intelligent, and is very self-disciplined. When he needs to, he can force himself to accomplish tasks. When Chen Kaige thought he was a little too chubby, Liu Haoran used a very short amount of time to lose 20 kg.
Because the role of Qin Feng required him to stutter, he spent a month’s time quietly practicing his speech, and spoke very little in order to relate to the character more. After completing a scene where he was required to hang from a wire, the production team discovered that he lost a whole layer of skin on his body, but he didn’t make a single peep during filming and was always smiling. But his self-discipline is very subtle, so it gives the impression that everything just comes easily for him. As his classmates say, he can “lightly complete tasks beautifully”.
This is a youth who is so studious that it’s a bit scary. You can’t find even a tiny bit of impatience or impetuousness in Liu Haoran. He has a system in place, where the surrounding environment won’t affect him. Before and after his gao kao (college entrance exams), Liu Haoran was in Thailand, filming for Detective Chinatown. After the production team wrapped up for the day, they would go out to eat and tour, but Liu Haoran would stay behind at the hotel room and bury his head in his books. He only took three days off (for the test), and was off to the airport as soon as he was done so that he could return to filming.
Even though he was in this situation, he still exceeded the minimum gao kao score (required by the Central Academy of Drama) by more than 100 points, and entered the school ranked first in both gao kao and yi kao scores. When Detective Chinatown 2 came out and the whole nation was chasing Qin Feng, he passed on promotions and hid away in Xiangyang to film. It was only until the hype had passed that he emerged again.
So, in the eyes of Liu Haoran’s mentor, boss, and friend Chen Si Cheng, Liu Hao Ran is someone who can really become highly successful. He might be young, but he gets the big picture. Others may say that he’s been extremely lucky, but as he says himself, the wind that surrounds him isn’t there because he stood around and waited for it to arrive. It’s because he worked hard to prepare himself, so when he started moving, the wind would naturally rise.
This youth who rides his bike in the wind hopes that in the future, he can be molded and shaped by all that he encounters. Ultimately, he hopes to become a gust of wind himself. “I hope to integrate into the different fates of the world, and become a gust of wind in someone else’s life.”
Q: When you are living the mundane life on set, what brings you joy?
A: I’m currently reading a Japanese manga, called Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen).
Q: Do you ever do cosplay?
A: Nope. I’ve never even been to an anime convention. I just enjoy it in my personal time at home.
Q: Since you like anime, would you ever consider appearing in a drama or film adaptation of one?
A: Adapting a manga into a live action work is even more difficult than adapting big IP novels. Because novels are written, there’s more room for imagination, whereas you actually have pictures for manga, and a lot of them are action ones at that. What humans can do, manga characters can do as well; but manga characters can also do a lot of things that we can’t do in real life. So I’d be pretty cautious about manga adaptations.
Q: You really enjoy playing video games, right? Would you be interested in a film similar to “Ready Player One”?
A: I actually don’t play that many video games, but I do have an interesting story about “Ready Player One”. Two or three years ago, when “Ready Player One” was casting overseas, I actually submitted a resume. My company also had me record a short introduction video in English. Of course, there was no callback. When I went to see the film, it felt familiar, and that’s when I remembered that piece of history.
Q: You’ve started living on your own at a very young age, so you’re probably very independent and capable. What are some life skills that you’ve picked up?
A: I still have just one word to say: lazy. I’m the type who can do anything but never wants to do anything. Life skills? Does being an expert in instant noodles count? I make really, really good instant noodles. Because I use a microwave first, and sometimes I add some cheese. I have various methods to make it tastier.
Q: My impression is that you’re good with kids. Are you close to your niece?
A: She really likes it when my sister brings her over to my home, but I think she’s more interested in the swimming pool downstairs than me.
Q: I see that you always post unedited photos, and you’re often unshaven in them. Is it because you think it looks more manly?
A: Haha, not really. It’s still because I’m lazy. I’ll let you in on a secret. If my selfie looks normal, maybe even a little handsome, it means I was forced to take it (on site) by my company. But if they tell me, “You should post a new selfie,” – that’s when you get the unedited photos.
Q: In “The Eye of the Storm”, you described Xiao Pingjing as someone who was “forced to grow up”. Do you feel that way about yourself as well?
A: No, because what others have experienced in their youth I have probably experienced as well. I’ve lived in a communal environment, and have played as much as anyone. Even though I started acting when I was 16, I’ve been protected extremely well. I’ve never done anything that I don’t want to do, nor have I ever been forced to say anything that I don’t want to say. I’ve been allowed to grow up very naturally.
(Harper’s Bazaar – September 2018 issue: Half of Paris)
When we meet Liu Haoran again, it’s here in Paris, where it’s already summer, though there’s still a light, cool breeze.
The twenty year old youth, who has a little ponytail now, basks in the warm, comforting sunlight. His head is bowed, and it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. When he hears our approach, he raises his head, and aims a tiger toothed smile in our direction. In that second, it’s like everyone here could hear their heart skip a beat.
Wherever he stands, it’s like there’s a youth filter on him. And his youth spreads, and blends in with the warm sunlight and flowery scent of Paris.
We walk with him through the morning sunshine in Paris til sunset, to the streets where there is nobody else, just a flock of pigeons. Though we are working, it becomes a source of joy. The Liu Haoran in front of us has the youth and enthusiasm of a twenty year old, but also possesses a maturity and a determination that surpasses most people his age. There are times when you’ll keep exclaiming yourself, “It’s so good to be 20 years old.” There will also be times when you forget that the him who was born in October 1997 is only 20.
We are a little afraid to ask him how long it’s been since he’s been able to leisurely stroll about with a camera in hand. How long has it been since he’s been able to explore the streets and alleys of a city? How long has it been since he’s been able to sit comfortably in a cafe? Or gotten to play with a cat that he’s met on the road?
In his debut at age 17, Liu Haoran played the bicycle riding youth Song Ge, where he won the hearts of women everything. It wasn’t that he was exceptionally handsome, but that one smile made you feel that this is what youth is all about. Later, in the movie Detective Chinatown, he was still green, but pulled off a successful performance on the big screen as another type of youth: a genius who was naive, cute but sly.
As you’re watching, you wonder, the Qin Feng in Chen Sicheng’s story has to be him, right? You can’t think of anyone who’d be able to replace him. That year, he became the young man in the spotlight at multiple award shows, and won many newcomer awards.
Later, in the drama adaptation of Ba Yue Chang An’s famous IP With You, he gave us the best Yu Huai: from the innocence of youth to the weariness of an adult. He wasn’t just Geng Geng’s Yu Huai. He was the Yu Huai that we all dream about as a youth, the person that we all have fond memories about in our hearts.
Last year, he continued to grow at an incredible speed. His drama – one that was nominated at China’s Drama Oscars – the Magnolia Awards’ Nirvana in Fire 2: The Wind Blows in Changlin – made many people exclaim that only Xiao Pingjing could carry on the spirit of Changlin, and that he lived up to the memories of Mei Changsu, Xiao Jingyan, and the other heroes that came before him. In film, he was The Founding of An Army’s knife-wielding, passionate little General Su Yu and The Legend of the Demon Cat‘s obssessive, vengeful youth Bai Long.
The steadily improving Liu Hao Ran also perfectly portrayed the lovable genius Qin Feng in Detective Chinatown 2, which became the third highest grossing film in Chinese box office history earlier this year. Thus, he has synonymous with the phrase “young xi gu” (T/N: xi gu = skilled actor, so in this context it’s basically praising him for being one of the best actors for his age). He really makes you believe that we shouldn’t judge people by age – whether someone can act has nothing to do with age.
He has spent much of this year filming the drama adaptation of the well known series Novoland: Eagle Flag. What’s impressive is that from the day that this drama was announced, there’s been more excitement than worry from the general public. He plays a young hero who wields a knife and has light in his heart.
Even though a thousand book fans may each have their own interpretation of Lv Gui Chen, having Liu Haoran portray this role makes you anticipate it more. He has both youthful enthusiasm and jianghu pride (T/N: meaning a more mature foundation). He’s heroic but not greasy. This isn’t the advantage of a post-95er – it’s Liu Hao Ran’s ability.
He’s not yet 21, but he’s already leading important dramas and films. He’s eye catching and is in the spotlight. But Liu Hao Ran says, his biggest wish is to take a good vacation. Even if it’s only for a couple of days, he wants to be able to travel normally, and leisurely stroll around, and peacefully enjoy the city, to really see Paris.
Though he’s been to Paris a couple of times now, and has passed the main tourist sites, the most he can say about it is, “I’ve had a filming session here before.” So he has a small regret: he’s taken a lot of photos, but there isn’t one that looks like a regular tourist shot.
“I’ve been here many times now, but I’ve only see about fifty percent of Paris.”
But as Liu Haoran says this, he’s also clearer than anyone else: what he wants to do at each stage of his life, what he needs to let go of, and what he needs to accomplish. (T/N: If you want to have a life where you can travel at your leisure, and be able to afford the time to travel, you have to first work hard and secure your place in the industry). His growth is the perfect example of “someone else’s child”. (T/N: Meaning he’s accomplished all areas – the person that your parents would always compare you to.)
He’s very level-headed, works hard, mature, and youthful. Liu Haoran has fought with himself many times for many years. So during the process of growing up, he’ll continue to better himself.
If you were to say that Liu Hao Ran’s hard work and professional demeanor leaves you both impressed and a little bittersweet, then his sweet youthful air and caring side will also leave you feeling both warm and a little sad.
Under the sunlight, in the face of the hurried shoot, he’s so exhausted that he has trouble even speaking. But when you give him an ice cream, he’ll light up and slowly you can see his energy returning. The Liu Haoran who loves sweets is like Paris – he’s sweet from the inside out.
More importantly, this 20 year old boy who will laugh and show his tiger tooth simply because he’s given an ice cream is also incredibly kind, like the boy next door, or a boy who shared a desk with you back in the day.
Hard working, warm, sweet, gentle – Liu Haoran is what we think the ideal youth would be like. In Beijing Love Story, he rode his bike through the streets and the forest. Today, he takes a picture of a cat who is wandering around in the streets, with a soft smile on his face and completely focused on the task at hand. He makes you excited about the future, and you will think that even the hot summer sun feels a little softer.
Even more importantly, he’ll make you feel that in a world where there’s a lot of darkness, there’s still some light, and that the world can be good, to the point where you want to reach out and give him a hug.
Youth can’t keep secrets, just like the city of Paris. From early morning to sunset, you can see the beauty and warmth all around you. Liu Hao Ran is like this as well. The places that he’s been to, the scenery that he’s seen – it all becomes more beautiful in his eyes. Even if he’s only seen fifty percent of Paris, he’ll treasure all the memories he’s had.