We get our first Haoran magazine cover for 2020 with L’Officiel Hommes China’s January 2020 issue! This is Haoran’s second time on the cover of the magazine and he is now one GQ cover away from being on all five of the main men’s magazines twice.
As this is Haoran’s first magazine interview since wrapping up DC3, he talks extensively about what it was like being in Japan, about the upcoming Detective Chinatown 3, but also touches on a variety of other topics, including his thoughts on the difference between acting in film and dramas, his favorite films, his thoughts on that ever familiar “youth” label, and much more.
Also want to add – happy New Year everyone! Thank you for being part of this community and for your support, and looking forward to the new year ahead (including what’s in store for Haoran)!
(Original article posted 12.28.19)
When the interview is held, Detective Chinatown 3 has already wrapped up filming. When we bring up the filming process in Japan, Liu Haoran doesn’t once mention how difficult and tiring it was.
Though we all know the extensive amount of work involved for actors who have a main lead role in a film, this youth would rather share fun anecdotes from on set and from in between filming.
Because he finds happiness amidst the difficulty and exhaustion.
For the Liu Haoran who has been to Japan many times now, to find a fun place that he hasn’t been to before is actually quite difficult. This time, he happened to be in the right place just in time for Japan’s largest music festival – Fuji Rock. This was the first time Liu Haoran’s attended a music festival in Japan.
He had originally thought that taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo, on which you can see Mt. Fuji, wasn’t a very far distance. But on the very last day (in Niigata), he went to the music festival, which was deep in the mountains and required a six hour commute in total.
The time he spent at the festival was shorter than the time spent rushing on the road. But this rare last minute experience also allowed Liu Haoran to experience a different side of Japan.
Detective Chinatown 3, which was filmed in Japan, features a cast composed of many Japanese actors. We wondered how main lead LIu Haoran communicated with the Japanese actors, but before we even finished asking our question, he playfully answered.
“During filming, everyone used a mix of Chinese and English. You probably couldn’t have imagined, right? Because Satoshi Tsumabuki and Masami Nagasawa are both currently learning Chinese, and their English is pretty good too. So most of the time, we used English, and also studied each other’s languages. It was honestly a very fun experience, and allowed us to get into (our characters) faster on set as well.”
In Detective Chinatown 3, Zhang Zifeng’s Si Nuo is also making her return, and Shota Sometani, who was previously in Legend of the Demon Cat, also joins the cast. When we ask Liu Haoran on what it was like to work with two actors who he’s known since a long time ago, he laughs secretively, and says to please anticipate seeing it in theaters. But he did share that Shota Sometani will be playing a very interesting character.
Criminal cases, investigative deductions – these are topics that almost every guy will be interested in. After all, who hasn’t imagined themselves as a great detective or a superhero who saves the world in their childhood? For Qin Feng’s actor Liu Haoran, it’s a perfect hit.
Liu Haoran says that in his normal life, he is someone who loves to play games that require deductive reasoning. When he has breaks, he’ll read many mystery novels or true crime documentaries. When The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow (similar to the game Mafia) first became popular, he was obsessed with it.
And now, if he’s in Beijing and has no schedules, he’ll invite three to five good friends to play escape rooms. Because he loves it, his performance as Qin Feng is very convincing.
What’s interesting is, Liu Haoran has also been invited multiple times to guest on Who’s the Murderer. On the program, he has also impressed with his logic and deductive reasoning. If you were to say his very first appearance (“Mermaid’s Tears” in S1) only showed a tiny peek at his deductive skills, “Escape the Nameless Island” (in S4) allowed Liu Haoran to make a name for himself in one go.
His careful reasoning and attention to detail when searching for evidence is attractive. Who wouldn’t like a young man with both intelligence and good looks?
When asked about other participants that he’s worked with on the show, Liu Haoran says, “He Laoshi (He Jiong – laoshi is a respectful way to address a senior) is amazing. Not just his deductive skills, but because He Laoshi has been on every episode, he can see through every player and what they’re trying to do.”
“For me, because I’m simply just talking about motives and evidence, I often might walk into a hole. That’s when He Laoshi’s explanations are incredibly important to me.” When asked if he has any tips on cracking cases, he laughs, “On ‘Who’s the Murderer’, don’t think too much. And don’t vote for the same person as Sa Laoshi (Sa Beining).”
From the moment he debuted in Bejing Love Story, there hasn’t been a moment when he hasn’t been linked with the term “youthful aura”. Many viewers will say he’s the epitome of “youthful aura”.
He’s the class president in the white shirt you see from through the bookshelf at the library on a summer’s day; like the classmate who is happily exchanging high fives with his teammates on the noisy basketball court after making a cool three pointer.
In the interview, Liu Haoran readily accepts this evaluation. He doesn’t think that this “youthful aura” has restricted him in his roles or performances, “Because I currently am at this age.”
The Liu Haoran who is dressed in all white, and just rushed over for the photoshoot after getting off class at the Central Academy of Drama, walks the talk. He took a quick trip around the North Pole and explored snow-capped Alaska. He’s also seen the northern lights (aurora) in faraway Iceland. The youth’s journeys have added a touch of adventure (into his life).
Legend of the Demon Cat‘s passionate and enduring Bai Long, Nirvana In Fire 2‘s spirited young master Xiao Pingjing, With You‘s handsome and intelligent Yu Huai – they all left deep impressions with the audience.
But Liu Haoran laughs and says that the character that is most like himself was Beijing Love Story‘s Song Ge. He had just started acting then, and didn’t know how to act as someone else, so just performed as himself.
From Song Ge to the Detective Chinatown films’ detective Qin Feng, he has already experienced many roles. Liu Haoran has continued to explore his own acting path.
As he looks back on his previous roles, what he’s felt the most is that after receiving professional training, his ability to understand scripts and analyze characters have become stronger. Audiences can probably also see this through the Detective Chinatown film series. Liu Haoran’s Qin Feng is an incredibly important character, as he’s the link between a series of clues and foreshadowing.
From his debut through now, Liu Haoran has now been in many films and dramas, and among them, many have been big budget productions. In terms of the difference between acting in films versus dramas, he has his own thoughts.
As films are built for the big screen, the long shots and big screen will magnify every tiny detail. As an actor performs, their gazes, their expressions, can all be clearly seen by the audience, so the actor must be very controlled and suppressed (in their acting).
But on the smaller television screen, an actor must magnify their acting so that viewers can see it more clearly. As for the understanding of character relationships, there are also many differences between drama and film.
Since many characters will appear in the short duration of a film, there is more space in the interpretation of characters, so it’s dependent on the actors to use their own methods to make the character more three dimensional.
But in dramas, there is more time and space to establish a character. The difficulty lies in using the long duration of a drama to clearly portray character relationships, and to adjust your state in different scenes with different people.
An actor’s every minute, every second, is captured by the camera and remembered by the audience. So all of the time is about the end result. Towards acting, the 22 year old Liu Haoran has a mature attitude that doesn’t match his age: he has a very clear understanding of himself. He know his weaknesses, and is self-aware.
Nowadays, more and more actors are going behind the camera (directing/producing). The Liu Haoran who caught the eye of viewers with his short improv performance at the Golden Rooster Awards is also being anticipated by audiences*.
*T/N: Haoran was highly praised for this improv, as many netizens said that it showed he has a lot of creativity and thought into his acting, which is how the discussion about him being a director one day began.
When we reach this topic, in comparison to the enthusiasm he had earlier, he is suddenly cautious, because Detective Chinatown‘s Chen Sicheng is an actor turned director, so the Liu Haoran who’s worked with him many times knows better than anyone just how difficult it is.
Though Liu Haoran will also sometimes wonder, “Would I be able to go behind the camera?”, he sees everything clearly and knows well that there is no profession that’s just there in name, be it as an actor, director, scriptwriter. There is no profession that you can do well in easily.
So if you really want to pursue it, you at least need to take classes, to learn in the field from teachers, to learn how to use camerawork and actors to tell a story. None of this can be done overnight.
“Given that I haven’t even mastered being just an actor, I don’t really want to split my focus at this age. I want to act well first.” Liu Haoran candidly shares his inner thoughts, determination in his tone. It’s an undisguised youthful spirit, honest and serious, and there is a light in his eyes that shows his sincerity towards acting.
During the interview, Liu Haoran shows that’s he’s comfortable and free. He understands that acting as a profession has limited him in many ways, but has also given him the opportunity to experience a different kind of life.
We always say that youth is promising, and it’s because youth has both potential and thoughts; they know what they can do, what they want to do. Let the wind blow as the rain ours down and listen freely, it will still be innocent for a long time. This is the image of youth.
Q: So far, who is the actor you want to work with the most?
LHR: There are too many (to count). A lot of people ask me this question, but honestly, ask any student at the Central Academy of Drama. Everyone wants to work with Jiang Wen laoshi, Ziyi jie (Zhang Ziyi), Chen Daoming laoshi. Because they are legends at our school. Every teacher will tell us stories from their time. So it’s like a legacy at our school. If it’s possible, I also want to be a legend (laughs).
Q: What’s a recent film that you saw in theaters?
LHR: The Legend of 1900. I highly recommend everyone to go see the remastered version. Because watching films on a smaller screen means you will miss out on a lot of its beauty.
When I watched the opening in theaters, I almost cried. So I hope if there’s the opportunity, everyone can go to the theaters more often to see movies you like. Because missing out on seeing certain movies in theaters is really regretful.
Q: Do you have a particular genre in film that you like to watch?
LHR: Drama films and (Quentin) Tarantino films. I like films where I need to think and participate in. When I was in Japan, I watched Joker, and really liked it a lot. Because I’m Team DC, I could get many of the references and jokes made in the film.
Q: Recommend your favorite films.
LHR: Fight Club, Seven, The Dark Knight, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Boat That Rocked, The Silence of the Lambs. I like thrillers and films that bring something new.
Q: The song that you’ve been playing the most…
LHR: Lao Wang Band’s “I’m Still Young” (pulls out his phone as proof).*
*T/N: This is a popular song that originated from the Internet and is basically a youth anthem of sorts. Lyrics include: “I have lots of time/I don’t want to cry by myself without a way forward in the future/in this world, look for your future/you ask me where is the future/I’m still young, I’m still young”
Q: Something that you’re currently doing to challenge yourself…
LHR: Getting my helicopter pilot license. I’ve already passed the physical.
Q: Your relationship with fans is…?
LHR: Really thankful to everyone for their support. I hope that my relationship with fans can be like a double headed arrow (mutual like), where there’s a connection but also some distance (T/N: everyone can live their own lives while still keeping that bond). I think fans are like eyes that are watching me, and it’s a reminder that I’m someone who people are paying attention to, so I must be mindful.