The Eye of the Storm: Chapter Four – Scene

This chapter takes us out of the chronological account of Haoran’s life that we’ve had thus far and focuses on some other topics, like friendships and first loves. He talks about his trip in Japan and feeling inspired by Kiko Mizuhara, about Give Me Five and the friends that he met through the variety show, and about an absolutely fantastic instance with the paparazzi.


Chapter Four – Scene

Friends are the warm breeze that we have by our side. We’ll discover the effect that we can have on others, and can also find traces of their influence in ourselves. Love and like is an important part of that. What kind of person you are decides what kind of person you will meet.

Relying on Telepathy to Keep In Touch With People

I am not very good at maintaining long term friendships with people. Even though when we meet, I can talk very happily with you, I have a difficult time sustaining that on a regular basis. I’m not very used to using the apps on my phone to stay in touch with people. If I could choose, I would rather not use these methods – I like meeting people in person instead.

Also, I really dislike typing. When my friends send me messages, I’ll reply to them in my brain, but forget to actually reply. A couple of days later, I’ll stumble upon the message again and realize I never actually replied, and I’ll hurriedly send out a response.

But just because you’re not good at maintaining a long term social life doesn’t mean I’m an introverted person. Or to be a little more specific, I think I have characteristics of both an introverted and an extroverted person. I don’t express everything that I’m feeling, but I’m not quite introverted either – in my personal life, I’m actually quite talkative.

These may sound like contradictory traits, but they can exist in harmony. I can have a great time with people in celebration over something, but I can also be by myself for four or five days and not see anyone during that time. Just like how everyone needs friends, but also needs to be able to be alone at times.

The Most Important Friendships

I feel that I have a lot of friends, but when I think about it a little bit more deeply, the people that I can call out to eat and have a conversation that doesn’t feel awkward is actually few in number. To me, friendship is when you don’t need to be careful around them, and vice versa. You don’t have to think about what to talk about, and you don’t have to purposefully arrange a specific activity. Simply put, even if you’re just sitting together playing on your phones, it doesn’t feel awkward.

There are always time when I don’t want to stay home all day and want to hang out with others. I’m a bit uneasy around people that I don’t know, and when I eat with them I feel like I have to engage in small talk to be polite. But friends are different. Sometimes we can can arrange to meet up with just a call, and catch up on what’s going with our lives. But we can also talk about nothing. No matter what we do, we are at ease and it’s comfortable.

It’s actually quite easy to make friends within the entertainment industry, though this is also dependent on your personality. If you are someone who is outgoing, it’s very easy to get to know others, especially with those around your age, because there’s so much you can talk about and a lot of opportunities to meet. When there’s a bunch of us together, it’s a great atmosphere.

Two People’s Japan

Last year, Da Pang and I went to Japan together. I had some free time then, and actually had some work in Japan later on, so I wanted to go traveling. But I’m also quite lazy, so I posted a message in my WeChat friend circle and asked, “Does anyone want to go to Japan with me?” When you post things like that, only friends who know you very well will reply, and Da Pang replied, “Let’s go together.” which is fantastic!

Da Pang is one of those people who is very social, and we always joke that he’s a social butterfly, hahaha. He likes to have fun but is also very detailed, so I left the planning up to him. And he very quickly arranged for our visas, our hotels, and our itinerary. He even made a chart and listed out places that would be fun to visit, where the food was good, etc. I realized what a treasure he was and thought we should set off as soon as we could! So the two of us headed off to Japan.

We were in Japan for more than ten days, and went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, etc., because my company had asked a friend in Japan to prepare a car for us, so we decided to travel all over. It’s rare to be able to travel without my mask and hat. Even if you sing loudly, no one will care, because no one knows who you are. So it was a lot of fun.

When you go out with friends, patience is key. Between Da Pang and I, I feel like he probably had to really exercise his patience with me, hahaha. Even though I was the one who wanted to travel, when I actually got there, I just wanted to lie there. Even when the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful, I just wanted to stay in the hotel.

Da Pang didn’t want to though – he doesn’t like to stay inside, and is of the belief that you should get your money’s worth when you go somewhere. But we also didn’t want to do things independently – partly because there was only one car. If one person went out, the other person would have no way of catching up. But also we didn’t want to be lonely. Even if it was just us two guys, we wanted to be able to do things together.

When Da Pang lost his patience, he would say, “You came all the way here to sightsee! If you’re just going to lie there all day why don’t you just do it at home?!” But I just whined back, “But traveling is really exhauting too! We came here to relax – that doesn’t mean going out every day. Vacation should be comfortable!” I think at the time Da Pang probably really wanted to smack me.


On that trip to Japan, brother Xiaoming (Huang Xiaoming) and sister Baby (Angelababy) also happened to be there, so we grabbed a meal together. Kiko Mizuhara came as well (T/N: she’s really close friends with Angelababy). I knew she is very famous in Japan, but was very surprised to discover that after we finished dinner and were preparing to take the car to head back, she very naturally went to a bike that she had parked on the side of the restaurant – she had ridden her bike there.

And she happily put on her earphones and rode home while listening to her music. I remember thinking, “Wow, how cool!” I never would have thought that she would maintain her sense of freedom like this.

I felt inspired by the simple and normal way she lived her life, and I began to successfully destroy the barriers that I had set for myself. Who said that actors had to sit in their vans all day?

When I returned to Beijing, I got my own bike. A couple of days ago when I had a magazine shoot, I rode my bike to the studio. When members of my team saw me arrive, they had an expression that said, “You won!” hahaha, and they said that they had never seen a male actor who cared so little about his image and so determined to get tan.

My bicycle doesn’t have a lock on it. So every time I go out to eat, I’ll call in advance and ask if I can park my bike there. It’s a bike made out of bamboo, so it’s very light and you can lift it with just one hand. It’s very comfortable to ride, but it also can’t stand up on its own – you have to lean it against sometime, or lie it down horizontally.

Beijing is a city that is perfect for riding your bike. My home is near Sanlitun, so I often need to ride through there. Many times when I’m stopped at a red traffic light, I’m surrounded by people. This city may be crowded, but it’s very independent, so no one will be looking around to see who you are. So I’ve never been recognized.

Of course, my bicycle riding also created some fun stories.

There was one night when I was having dinner with a friend and her family member*. After we were done with the dinner, they left first in their car, and I was going to ride home on my bike. From the start, I thought that there was a strange car parked in front of the restaurant. You could see a red light in the car. At first, I thought that maybe someone was smoking, but realized the color wasn’t right, so I took note of it.  

T/N: He’s talking about Ouyang Nana and her mother here. This “incident” took place in June 2017 – you can actually find the Sina Entertainment article here with a really cute gif of Nana and her mother waving goodbye to Haoran. No, we don’t ship them – we just adore their friendship. And yes, this is the only mention he makes of Nana in the entire book.

After my friend’s car left, the car that was waiting outside the restaurant also headed out. I grabbed my bike and started riding, and just happened to be stopped at the same red light as the mysterious car. So I decided to peek inside, and was startled to discover that in the passenger seat sat a man with a video camera – and a really tiny one at that. These days, it’s rare to see see people with video cameras, right? So I just kept looking at him.

At first he didn’t see me, as he had his head bowed down to look at what he was recording on his camera. But in that moment, the driver of the car saw me, and was so surprised he immediately hit his buddy on the arm. The cameraman’s eyes met mine – I think we probably stared at each other for about ten seconds straight.

The expression that he had on his face…it was fantastic. The atmosphere was quite awkward, but it’s understandable. The brother probably had years of experience in following people, but he probably had never been so close (distance-wise) to someone who he was supposed to be following, hahaha.

When the light turned green, I pedaled off and left. I really love giving people these type of surprises.

The pictures (of the dinner) ended up making the headlines as a “scandal” being exposed. I really wanted to selfishly tell the brother (the paparazzi) that eating a meal with a friend is much too mundane to be a news story. The story about how we stared at each other for ten seconds is so much more interesting.

Although I think it’s funny, it’s also a bit bittersweet. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to live a life where I can freely ride my bike everywhere.

I often remind myself, no matter how far I go in this industry, I must live a normal life. When I’m acting, I’m portraying someone else’s life – they will have dramatic falls and rises, and maybe they live glamorously, but once I leave the actor behind, I need to keep in mind I’m just an ordinary person. I hope that I can have my own time and space, to have my own hobbies, to be able to be lazy or go nuts. And to be able to ride my bike to meet up with my friends. It’s important (for me) to remember that I’m just like everyone else.

Chun Xia

I met Chun Xia once soon after she won her award (back in 2016). One day after an event, Dong Zijian and I agreed to grab a meal together, and she was there as well. I knew Dong Zijian pretty well, and he was on good terms with her as they had worked on a project together.

We didn’t talk much, as we were focused on eating, drinking, and just quietly enjoying each other’s company. Chun Xia didn’t speak very much either, so I believed she was an introverted girl, and she was under the impression that I was a cold guy.

Later, we met each other again at an event. She was very chatty and full of enthusiasm. I was very curious, so I suddenly asked her, “Chun Xia, you’re different from who I thought you were. The last time I saw you, I felt you were very quiet.”

She replied, “Yes, that day when I met you, I also thought, why is this boy trying to act cool and expresionless? But today I saw you and Zhang Ruoyun were talking nonstop..” We kept talking afterwards, and realized we had misunderstood one another. Both of us love to talk with those who we know well.

We were attending a banquet then, so the guys were all wearing tuxes, and the girls wore evening gowns. But she wore an outfit that was like a sleeping robe, and her hair was in big curls, like the style of Hong Kong women back in the 70s and 80s. Later on the Internet, people said she wasn’t formal enough. But that day, as she brushed her hair out of her face due to the huge gusts of winds, I felt that this girl was quite cool.

Reality Show

“Give Me Five” (the 2017 variety show he did) was like a vacation for all of us, and was a present that the powers above gave us, an opportunity for us to have an excuse to have fun and just play every once in a while. But the biggest gain from this show was the good friends (I made).

This industry is so small that those of us who are around the same age all knew of each other to some degree before the program. We’ve met at other variety shows before, or watched each other’s projects before. Before recording Give Me Five, I had already met Xiao Dong (Dong Zijian) and Xiao Kai (Wang Junkai) several times, so after we came together for the program, we quickly became quite familiar with one another.

Recording the program was just about having fun, because there honestly was no script. The production team also didn’t communicate with us before a recording, because they hoped that we would be able to put our most sincere selves in front of the camera. So they would let us know of the time and place, but wouldn’t tell us the schedule. But we were usually quite excited, and we’d wonder, “What kind of fun would we have today?”

Normally, we were all busy with work, filming, events, so it was rare for us to have an opportunity to get together, especially at the various national amusement parks and scenic locations. It really was a lot of fun. Every time we had a recording, we all treasured the opportunity.

In comparison, It Takes A Real Man was really going into military training. Ah seriously, it was exhausting, and there was no script, and you had to listen to your commanding officer. Whatever he wanted you to do, you had to do it. But as tiring as it was, we got used to it, and I did enjoy the program. Because my father was in the military, that show also helped me achieve a childhood dream of being in the military.

When It Takes A Real Man was planning Season 2, the production team did talk to me. At the time, the plans were to experience life in the Navy (my dream was to join the Air Force), but because I was filming then, I really couldn’t make the time. So I thought, I’ll just wait til they go to the Air Force! But when Season 2 officially started filming, I discovered that they had switched to the Air Force…my heart was full of regrets!

Dong Zijian

Xiao Dong is one of those really lazy and laidback people. He’s also so smart that it’s scary, but he really is so lazy. So he usually likes to come up with ideas, but doesn’t like to execute the idea himself. I’m lazy too, but I’m also extremely competitive, so I can suppress my laziness.

Xiao Dong is usually very amusing. He has an infectious personality, and really knows how to help control the atmosphere. When we were recording the program together, he also had unbelievable luck. If you were on the same team as him, your luck would be absurdly good. Conversely, if you were on the same team as Zhang Yishan, you would have terrible luck. It was very strange.

Wang Junkai

When we first started recording the program, I had thought that Xiao Kai would be the one who would struggle the most in letting go. My impression of him has always been someone who’s a very good child, but who would’ve thought, he was actually the person who was able to let go the most, and really knew how to have fun.

We all underwent changes from the beginning of the program to the end, but Xiao Kai had the biggest transformation. It could be because for all of us, it was hard to find time for us to hang out with people our age. So there was a relaxed friendship between us guys, and it was infectious.

Sometimes we didn’t try as hard, but other times we gave it all. And Xiao Kai slowly began to show that aside from being well mannered, he’s also very interesting, playful, and competitive. He always surprised us with a new side of himself.

Zhang Yishan

Before, when I watched “Yu Zui” (Zhang Yishan’s drama), I always thought Yishan was like his character in the drama – cool and mischievous. But after interacting with him for a while, I realized that was good acting by him. Yishan has this natural spirit of righteousness. No matter what we were doing, he had this infectious enthusiasm.

When we recorded the first episode of Give Me Five, we didn’t know each other all that well then. There was a game where we had to find the cloth that matched our assigned color and then hang it using a long bamboo pole. We were shown the technique by experts first, and then we were on our own.

When I had found my second piece of cloth and was on the way to hang my third, Yishan was still trying to hang his first one. Many times that day, I saw his impatience, and I thought that he’d ask someone for help and work with them to hang it, but he quietly persisted on his own. He tried different angles, and slowly became more and more familiar with the technique.

Yishan has this spirit that surrounds him, a youth that will never give up.

Darren Wang (Wang Dalu)

Dalu is a very interesting friend. He’s a fantastic person, and really knows how to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. He’s also very intelligent, but it’s not the type of intelligence that you can see right away.

The Taiwanese people I know are all very interesting. Maybe it’s because their background is different from ours, but they’re more outgoing, and have more transparent personalities. They’re also very good at expressing themselves, but you won’t think it’s odd.

They don’t follow strict rules, nor are they rude. Meanwhile for us, we often abide by the rules too much, because if we don’t, we might come across as rude. But they can break that structure, and do it in a way where they can still cheerfully accomplish the tasks needed.

One time we were in Macau filming for Give Me Five. Dong Zijian, Wang Dalu, and I were assigned to the same team, and the program asked us to find a way to go somewhere very far. We were only given 50 yuan, so getting a taxi was out of the question. So we were left with either walking or taking the bus.

But Wang Dalu walked into a store and very naturally had a great conversation with the store employee, and afterwards, the employee was more than happy to give us a ride to our destination.

I remember thinking then, why can’t I think out of the box like that? My fear then was; if I directly asked someone to give us a ride, would it make me look too rude or strange? But he won’t think that way. He very naturally just did it, and the whole time it was a very relaxed atmosphere. The person that we asked the favor from was also very happy, and we were able to successfully accomplish our goal.

He has this natural way of making you feel very close to him. His personality is so interesting, and so comfortable to be around. But we are sometimes too polite, and it actually makes us look a little distant at times.

When do you realize you have a crush on a girl?

I’m not at the age yet to talk about marriage, but I sometimes look forward to having a romantic relationship. What I want is to “be able to outrightly express my truest self to someone else my age”, and not necessarily what others often say about being together all the time: eating together, talking together, hanging out everyday. Because for us, that’s pretty much impossible.

The time I feel like being in a relationship is when I’m feeling particularly tired, when work gets too challenging. I want to be able to call someone or have a video chat.

Of course, when my company or the production team members ask me, “Are you tired?”, I will never admit to it. “Do you need to rest?” I will always reply, “Nope!” Because this is my job, my responsibility, so for me to show any negative emotions feels embarrassing.

It’s the same to my family. My parents are getting older, so there are some things I don’t dare to tell them anymore (Honestly, I already am someone who speaks quite openly with my family, but there are some emotions that are better kept to myself).

Same for friends. You can’t constantly burden your friends, and call them up with both big and little things.

So I might need someone who can listen to how I really feel about something, who can see the side of me that I try to hide the most from others. For me, she doesn’t need to do anything in particular. If she can just listen to me, that’ll be enough.

So when do I discover that I like someone? Probably the moment when I develop some curiosity about a girl. She might be someone who doesn’t talk a lot, and is quiet, but you can’t help but try to guess what she’s thinking. So when I really want to learn more about her…that’s probably the beginning of a crush.

First Love

When I was in elementary school, there was a girl I liked, but “like” at that time meant that when the two of us were called upon to answer questions by the teacher, the rest of the class will giggle. There was no confession, because I was a coward. We didn’t even secretly hold hands during class.

High school was when I felt I could truly say whether I liked someone or not, but compared to my friends, I was already quite late.

At performing arts schools, it seems easier for feelings to develop. Because we grew up learning dance, we aren’t as self conscious about genders. Guys will wear leggings to dance, which some may think is embarrassing, but we’re long used to it.

There is no thought that “Oh, he’s a guy, I’m a girl, so I should stand a bit further away from him.” And we were also a boarding school, so being in relationships started quite early for my classmates. I have classmates who have already been in happy relationships for six to seven years now.

With You’s Yu Huai is quite similar to me. He was naturally gifted in math and science, but it was also enhanced by his hard work. He was unwilling to give up, and it was his competitive spirit that kept him going. He had a lot of burdens on his shoulders, but would never admit to it.

But the me in real life probably can’t even reach the levels of “like” that Yu Huai did. He completely arranged his life around that girl, and planned her into his future, how they’d go to college together, work, marriage, kids… he even had their kids’ names thought out.

If I was given a chance to act in this drama again, I think I can do a better job in the latter half. The me then had no way of understanding Yu Huai’s dedication, and the deep feelings he had.

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