Marie Claire – Be True Be You

Haoran gets his seventh (I think) magazine cover of the year with Marie Claire China! This one pretty much came out of nowhere and was a hot topic of discussion on both the big forums and on Weibo, primarily due to the unique and experimental nature of the shoot as Haoran is known for his clean and sunshiny image.

The Marie Claire team explained that since the theme was about breakthroughs and future possibilities, they wanted to try something daring for Haoran, a style that he’s never tried before. And as we know from his previous interviews, he’s always wanting to show us a new side of himself, which he definitely did this time!

Not only has he unlocked his third women’s big 5 cover, he’s also the first male celeb to grace the cover of Marie Claire China this year and is just the fifth in the last two and a half years. And in a surprising twist*, Tod’s is the brand that pushed for this cover. This is the first solo magazine cover that they’ve gotten for Haoran since he was named the ambassador of their footwear collection back in March.

*The reason why it’s surprising: as a brand, you’ve got to spend a LOT of money to get a Big 5 cover (this is actually the main way magazines make money – not actual sales). Usually brands like Chanel, Dior, LV, etc. are the ones who win the bidding wars (update: the other two MC covers for Jing Tian and Tang Yan this month were sponsored by Dior and Chloe, respectively). Tod’s went all out this time for Haoran (and of course for promoting themselves).

Before we get into the interview, wanted to share translations of two Weibo posts in regards to Haoran – one from the journalist who conducted this interview, and one from Mix Wei, who is one of China’s most famous fashion stylists and is essentially the chief fashion editor at Marie Claire China (not sure what his official title is, actually, but he oversees all cover shoots).

“I was the one who conducted the interview for this cover shoot. We talked for almost an hour, and I was able to see Liu Haoran’s great wisdom and steadfastness amidst his easygoing and sincere nature. It’s very attractive. After the interview, Haoran showed me a selfie that he said he really wanted to share but couldn’t. The day of the interview was such a wonderful day.”

Xavier杰斯君 (journalist)

“When we were picking the theme of the photoshoot, we had everyone (on or team) give labels to Liu Haoran. The answers were basically all “good student”, and “sunshiny boy”. The theme of this issue is “Future Shapers”, to create what you want to. That’s why we decided to give this leopard print, smoky eye makeup, high heeled look for Liu Haoran – to show that nothing is impossible for the future of 95’ers, 00’ers. Really like this ‘familiar surprise'”.

 — Mix Wei (fashion stylist)

(Marie Claire China – June 2019 issue)

The Liu Haoran who has been in the industry for five years now still carries that treasured youthful air. But when he gets serious, he becomes likes a tiger or leopard, and his gaze becomes so sharp it pierces your heart. This time, he graces the cover of Marie Claire China, June 2019 issue, and shows the many sides of his maturity. Every side (we see) is still him, and yet not.

The Liu Haoran who has been in the industry for five years now still carries that treasured youthful air. But when he gets serious, he becomes likes a tiger or leopard, and his gaze becomes so sharp it pierces your heart. This time, he graces the cover of Marie Claire China, June 2019 issue, and shows the many sides of his maturity. Every side (we see) is still him, and yet not.

About ten minutes before we officially begin, a tall, thin boy walks towards the dressing room, his clean face behind rimless glasses. Even in those few seconds, bystanders can feel the light radiating from him, and can see the steadfastness in his youthful appearance.

This boy has always been like this. His light shines like a (pure) child’s – it’s warm but sharp, relaxed but determined, because he knows where he is going.

In the five years since he debuted, he’s always had the image of a sunshiny young man, his gaze clear and his smile full of simple joy.

There is a question on Zhihu that asks, “What do you think of Liu Haoran?” The answer that has the most upvotes is, “He possesses everything beautiful about being 18.”*

* If you’re interested, we translated more of the answers to this question here

But this time for his Marie Claire cover, he shows us a new tougher, wilder side.

We were fortunate enough to see the evolution up close. The him with purposely exaggerated smoky makeup is pensive and deep in thought in front of the camera. Every side that he shows is still him, yet not. But this is the him that we love, simultaneously cool and cute.

Liu Haoran explains that his acting career thus far is due to opportunity, “It’s true that luck has been on my side for me to be where I am today.”

Or perhaps this path was fated to be for him from the beginning. His determination and decision making has been proven to be correct as he’s encountered the right production teams and projects, time and time again.

For this youth, while these opportunities may seem quite enviable to others, it’s also simultaneously brought him more pressure and challenges. He has to continuously adjust his mindset to ensure that he is maximizing (performance in) his work opportunities. This has been the greatest motivation for him as he grows up.

“When you’ve received a great script, and are working with a great director and production team, you’ll feel a lot of pressure. These blessings are also essentially a double-edged sword, and they hang over your head.”

These kind of opportunities are quite rare, but Liu Haoran is very aware of the fact that as a young actor, he must work even harder to let these “blessings” become something spectacular.

“Under these circumstances, you are even more unwilling to let the final project be a letdown. I remember when I was in class, our teacher would often tell us, “You all must work very hard, because when you get on the stage, the bigger the stage, the brighter the light. Conversely, if you haven’t done your part well, the bigger the stage, the more face you’ll lose (be humiliated).'”

As an actor, you must do everything in your power to remain in great condition (both mentally and physically) through the filming process. That includes a certain freedom with your emotions, as you must be able to adjust to the different changes in mood and emotion of your character.

For actors Liu Haoran’s age, it’s comparatively easier to express anger, but if it’s a more nuanced emotion that includes despair and tears, he needs more time to figure it out.

“I remember when filming Nirvana In Fire 2, there was a time on set when I needed to cry almost every day. Initially, I’d use wine and sad music to try and get myself emotional, but overtime those feelings turned to fatigue. But I think I found some techniques when it comes to ‘crying’. Now when there’s crying scene, I can cry on cue, but this a process. For actors, what’s most important is still to be able to express real emotions (in your performance).”

In regards to his future as an actor, Liu Haoran hopes that he can become an actor with 1,000 different faces, and that he can take on many different types of roles. When he says this, his eyes shine with enthusiasm, like a child who has seen the world through a kaleidoscope for the first time.

“I don’t view acting as an iron rice bowl*. It’s like fashion events – you have to maintain that curiosity and enjoyment. If one day I’m no longer deriving joy from acting, I will lessen my work in this area and look for something new.”

*T/N: There was a period of time in Chinese history when people would be assigned jobs by the government, which meant they didn’t have to worry about unemployment, but it also meant, among other things, that they would never be able to change careers as they were usually positions that you held until retirement. So what Haoran means here is not that he doesn’t view acting as a long term thing, but rather that he doesn’t feel that he has to be permanently assigned to it. There’s room for changes and growth.

After a period of tightly packed schedules, Liu Haoran will take some time off, mostly to just rest, hang out with friends, and play games. He will basically return to the life that someone his age should have to relax. (T/N: They’re saying in general, not that he’s about to rest again.)

The freedom to make his own choices allows Haoran to minimize his time spent in the sight of the public, and it also means that every time he does appear, you’ll feel pleasantly surprised.

Since he was a child, Liu Haoran has been someone who is decisive and knows his own mind. This is deeply connected to the way he’s been brought up by his family.

“My parents didn’t really raise me the traditional way. I often explain it as ‘allowed to grow up naturally, with occasional maintenance’. They will let me make my own decisions and do things my own way, but every once in a while, they will have a deep chat with me, and will offer their encouragement and advice.”

Aside from being “allowed to grow up naturally, with occasional maintenance” by his family, being on his own in Beijing since he was 11 meant that Liu Haoran learned to be independent very quickly.

In the years since he entered the entertainment industry, when it comes to facing the media, directors, scripts, Liu Haoran still wants to share his true thoughts, and make his own decisions.

What he was taught as a student also serve as an alarm bell for Haoran as he moves forward, and periodically, it will go off. When faced with the pressures and difficulties that no one knows about, he has to deal with it himself. Only then can he overcome it.

This process is a bit like going through a dark, lonely tunnel. No one can take your place or take on your burdens. In order to break through, to see the rainbow after the rain, you have to experience the pain first.

Whether he’s in his “actor” occupation, or outside of work, he’s full of a boyish air. The “boy” used here is unrelated to age – it’s more of a spirit. It’s like a spring that continues to provide water; it’s a symbol of life.

He is full of curiosity towards everything, and anticipates the unknown. Anything that perks his interest, he wants to try and experience.

“The first time I saw myself on the big screen, it felt like when you record yourself speaking and then go back to listen to it. It’s both foreign and familiar – a very interesting feeling. When I’m at home, I’ll pick a few important scenes, or ones that I prepared a lot for, to review. Compared to when I first filmed the scene, the time between wrapping up filming and the project airing, I’ll be able to detach myself more. So when I watch, I’m able to gain new insights.” This is very important to him.

Aside from his professional occupation as an actor, he is also the brand spokesperson for several fashion brands. For Haoran, his views on fashion are tied closely to his thoughts on acting.

“Fashion and acting are actually interconnected. Because fashion is about experimenting with different looks, how you can use your body and styling to express yourself. The reason why I often go to fashion events is also because I think it’s very interesting and fun. Not only do they allow you to try new looks, you can also see friends who you normally might not have the chance to see, and catch up with them.”

At the same time, “simplicity” is very important to Liu Haoran.

“For example, when I attend photoshoots or commercial shoots, I normally wear a button-up shirt on, because it’s easy to take off and won’t mess up my makeup and hair. But when I’m filming for a project, when I wake up in the morning, I’m most concerned about staying warm. This is why I love long coats. It also makes it easy for me to change to my costume when I arrive on set. When you wear layers (T/N: he means an outfit with visible layers, not just a coat over a shirt and pants), it looks nice, but it makes changing (into other outfits) more difficult.”

There is a difference between “convenient”, “casual”, and “simple, and he chooses to say “simple” after careful consideration.

This is a type of honesty. In this day and age, how many people are truly honest and sincere to others?

MC: How was Africa different from what you had imagined it to be like?

LHR: Maybe it’s because where we went was actually a place that’s quite popular with tourists and is open to them, but I had thought it would be difficult to find a place to shower. In actuality, we were able to shower every day, or every other day.

MC: Do you feel like you learned something new about elephants on the Africa trip?

LHR: In that region, the locals have spent many years to try and find a way to harmoniously co-exist with the elephants and other wildlife, and we were very fortunate to be able to see the elephants up close.

MC: What are the three must-have items when you travel?

LHR: Camera, phone, eye drops.

MC: Out of all the superheroes in the DC and Marvel universes, who would you want to travel with?

LHR: Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen – he can do anything.

MC: How did you feel when you got to fly a plane?

LHR: It kind of felt like playing a video game (in terms of the controls). The biggest obstacles are really more internal.

MC: Name an animal that describes you when you dance.

LHR: An angry rhino, hehehe.

With his face makeup-free, and dressed in a white t-shirt, he’s still that refreshing, warm youth, but at least this time (through the photoshoot), we got to see a different side of him. Someone unyielding, who seeks freedom.

Behind the scenes photos

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