Hello, it’s liuhaoran_intl’s admin!
(Warning: this starts out as much more of a personal post – admin just had lots of feels today, so feel free to skip to the second part of this – which will be a collection of Haoran’s quotes from the translations I’ve done through the years.)
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m still here, and will be for hopefully as long as time allows. I know I haven’t subbed much through the second half of 2020 through now, but it’s not that I’ve lost interest, far from it, but like many, 2020 was a source of anxiety and lots of different overwhelming feelings for me as well. At first, I thought it would be the year where I subbed and/or wrote more than ever, because I’ve been working from home since mid March 2020, but it turns out being home doesn’t necessarily mean that time is freed up more or that there’s less pressure.
Most of the time in 2020, I just wanted to curl up and sleep, to not think about anything. Why? I don’t even quite know. I’ve been very fortunate in that I still have my job, a lovely house that I bought right before COVID hit, and good health. But still, I felt like I was drowning in anxiety constantly (and quite honestly, still am). And I’m sure many felt the same in 2020.
So here we are in 2021 (already more than two months in!), and hopefully it will be a much better one than the last.
Today is Valentine’s Day, and for Haoran fans, it’s significant in that it’s also his 7th debut anniversary.
In 2014, he made his debut in Beijing Love Story after being open casted for the role at age 15, and even though he disappeared for about a year after that to focus on finishing high school + prepping for the yikao and gaokao (college entrance exams), it’s still his debut, and Song Ge is still one of his most important roles, because without it, there would be no Qin Feng, and the actor we know. There are some who think Haoran got the role of Qin Feng because he was signed with Chen Sicheng, but it was in fact the other way around. Song Ge was essentially an audition, for CSC to observe if Haoran could potentially handle the role despite being a complete rookie, and he proved himself.
For me, it also marks my third year of being an active fan.
At this time in 2018, I was coming off binging Nirvana In Fire 2 and completely drowning in Haoran + Pingjing feels, and that was what really converted me into a more dedicated fan. And just a couple days later, as Chinese New Year in 2018 was February 16, Detective Chinatown 2 came out and Haoran’s career really took off in a different way.
But if I were to count strictly, I’ve probably been a fan since 2015, because of It Takes A Real Man, and to this day, the image of the 17 year old whose eyes shone brightly with enthusiasm remains firmly planted in my mind.
There are a lot of achievements Haoran has accumulated in these seven years. Representative roles and works, and multiple ones at that. A best actor nomination at a major film award. Becoming the youngest actor to reach the 10 billion RMB club in box office gross (now 15 billion RMB). Endorsements, magazines, collaborations, performances. Things that he probably didn’t even dare to think about back when he was in his teens.
Part of my intentions when I first started this website was to chronicle his growth and journey, both in terms of career, and as a person, and I feel like sometimes I get too caught up on the career aspects and forget a very, very important part of why I will probably always be a Haoran fan (aside from the fact that I honestly and truly connect so well to his acting style) is because he really is one of the most grounded young actors I’ve ever seen, and his outlook on life, on his career, is a constant reminder for me to push forward as well.
Haoran has always said that he hopes his relationship with fans can be a long term friendship, one where we accompany each other from a distance as we grow up together. Though I’m a quite a bit older than him, it really has felt that way, both having watched him for six years, and looking back at the changes in myself and my own life. So here’s to many more years of this “friendship”, and may we all continue to grow and thrive.
It’s been seven years, and while he’s matured and changed in some ways, there are other aspects where he still very much remains the same person, despite the success he’s experienced, despite the fact that he shot to stardom so quickly. And now that I have years of interview translations to work off of, I can finally put together this: a journey with Haoran through the years, via his quotes.
Q: How do you want people to see you?
LHR: As a young man who just turned 18. I’m not really used to be called a little fresh meat ( a generic term used for young male artists). Whenever someone mentions meat, I feel like they’re going to cut me (laughs).
Q: From your debut in Beijing Love Story through now, you’ve earned a lot of attention. Will that give you pressure?
LHR: Yes, because my social skills are pretty average. I don’t have a lot of friends, but those that I am friends with are very close ones. I don’t really know how to make friends with strangers, so I’m not very used to interacting with fans yet. I’ll get nervous. A lot of friends say I lack the idol awareness. When I go out, I’ll just put on a pair of leisure pants. I don’t really know how to take selfies either, and my Weibo doesn’t really have selfies either. I post a little more now, because I’ve been shooting more magazines.
Q: What type of actor do you hope to be in the future?
LHR: One that can play different types of roles, to keep acting, to not be restricted by outside appearance. I want to try different types of roles.
Q: Have you thought about becoming a director one day?
LHR: I haven’t thought that far. I think you just need to keep walking, and it will eventually make sense. I just want to do the things in front of me well right now. Who knows what will happen in the future.
— Bazaar Men China , December 2015 issue (his first magazine cover)
“I will be honest, I have turned down many schedules, including some filming projects, because of school. Out of all the acting schools, the Central Academy of Drama is the strictest. Brother Sicheng has thrown me in there because he doesn’t want me to be impetuous. He wants me to focus and spend some time seriously building up some skills. My most important identity right now is that of a student. For the next few decades, maybe even for the rest of my life, I will be an actor, but after these next few years, I will no longer have the opportunity to enjoy my college life.”
“Every time I finish filming a project, I force myself to adjust my state of mind and return to my identity as a student. When I’m filming, it’s like I’m the main role, and everyone will take care of me. There is no night and day when it comes to work, and the only rest I get is at the hotel. But when I return to school, I’m a student, so I’ll go to class, do my homework, and adjust to the routine life of school.”
“If my classmate gets a role as the owner of a small noodle stand, he can seek out an owner (of a noodle stand) and say, ‘let me work at your stand, I’ll pay for the experience.’ I no longer have the chance to have this kind of experience. In addition, one of the best parts of college life are the times that you spend out of class. Everyone can go travel together, participate in clubs. But that kind of life is getting further away from me.”
“If you have good projects and performances, you will be regarded more highly, and there will be less attention paid to your personal life. Because you’ve already attained fame earlier than others, you must protect your personal life and space, or else the the scrutiny will just grow over time. This may also negatively affect your life, sensitivity, and state of mind.”
— The Paper, June 2016
2017 (The Eye of the Storm)
“I consider myself to be a very lucky person. In high school, I successfully participated in my very first film. When I hadn’t even completed my gao kao yet, I received opportunities and attention that other actors only obtain after putting in a lot more time and effort. At not yet twenty, I have the team of my dreams, and I have been able to take on many great roles.
But I know that I am someone who is being pushed forward and not necessarily by my own power. Though everyone around me feels like I’m about to take off, I’m always a bit unsettled and feel like I’m not quite as grounded as I would like to be. I know that I am far from the moment when I will spread my wings and fly. Everything that I have now is because I have been blessed by the winds of opportunity – fate, and the help of many, many people, have been the ones who have gotten me here.
I am very grateful for these winds, because they have allowed me to walk faster than I had thought I could. But at the same time, even though the direction that I’m being pushed in is the direction where all of my dreams lie, I still cannot help but feel apprehensive about it.
I have to constantly remind myself, instead of continuing to run forward as guided by the wind, I have to be able to use my own strength to stop myself at times. I have to learn to use my weight, so that my feet can remain grounded, and so that I can avoid being blown into the cliffs.”
“The few years that I’ve been in the industry, I have never thought that I was different from others, nor have I thought about where I want to go. Up until now, I’ve just wanted to invest myself fully in the script at hand, to do my best in portraying a role, to give my all in the tasks that I have at hand. To steadily walk every step. Where I can go in the future, where I can’t go – there’s not a lot of point in thinking about that now.
It’s like how in the beginning, I was blown away by a sudden gust of wind to a present that I’ve never thought about. To the me that has a bit more control now, I still can’t predict what direction my future path will take me.
If a person does their best and smoothly walk with fate, that’s a good thing. After being blown onto this racetrack, I hope that I won’t always be blown along by these winds.
Where I go in the future, I hope that I can decide that on my own.”
“When you face a good opportunity, it’s actually quite hard to make decisions. The belief that I always cling on to is that if you miss out on a good role, then there will definitely be a better one awaiting you. Even though the tempo in this circle is very fast, if you don’t take a role, naturally, there are many people who are waiting for it. Everyone’s working state is always like this: the minute you finish one project, another comes knocking.
But I hope I can slow things down a bit more. I don’t want to walk too fast, nor do I want to be in a hurry.
It’s not because I have a great feeling of security, or that I lack a sense of urgency, but it’s because naturally, I’m enveloped in insecurity. I don’t believe that something I’ve attained means it was meant for me, nor do I believe that having a great goal now means I can achieve it. I only believe that in taking every step steadily, to do what I can at hand.
I hope that I don’t take an empty step, that even if I walk a little slower, I make the most of every decision that I make, to do well with every performance. That’s how you ensure that you have something real and solid in your hand.”
— The Eye of the Storm, 2017
Q: Do you think the current environment and opportunities are good for young actors?
A: I think it’s both good and bad. The good part is that there are a lot more opportunities than before. So if you want to be an actor, if you want to start filming, there are many projects and many roles that are out there.
But along with that comes impatience and being impetuous. Because there are too many opportunities that it’s easy to take everything for granted. Before, when there weren’t as many opportunities, many actors were after the same roles, and would give it their all to ensure they portray the role well.
But now, it’s like…if I don’t film this, I have other projects I can take. If I’m not filming movies, I have dramas. If I’m not filming (TV) dramas, there are projects for online platforms as well. They are all options. So people will think, whether I work hard or not, I’ll still be able to eat.
And naturally, everyone stops putting in as much blood, sweat, and tears as our seniors may have in the past. So I think that calls for an adjustment of mindset.
— iFeng, January 2018
Interviewer: Since your debut, you’ve had a lot of great opportunities, especially recently. Your film and television projects are all considered to be among the best, like The Legend of the Demon Cat and Nirvana in Fire 2. And Detective Chinatown 2 is due to come out over Chinese New Year’s. Are these the “winds of opportunity” that you mentioned in your book?
LHR: I hope that I can be able to hold my ground when I’m being blown by the wind. This is how society works – when there are a lot of opportunities, you will encounter high speed winds, and you will be pushed to walk faster and faster. But then the problem comes – it’s so easy to fall when you walk too fast. Teacher Ge You* once said, don’t take large steps – it’ll be easier to trip. Since everyone can walk in the wind, the next step for us to learn is how to stay grounded. I’m not someone who is running as fast as the wind pushes me – I want to stand amidst the wind and give myself time to think. I’m not in a hurry.
The truth is, a lot of young actors want to be able to walk steadily, but the wind that they have to deal with doesn’t blow that way, and thus they have no choice. Everyone always says, if you don’t film anything, you will be quickly replaced by newcomers, so you have no choice but to take whatever project is offered to you. I really don’t like this – you use up an actor, throw him away, and then bring a new one in.
Interviewer: A lot of actors will take on lower quality projects for various reasons, such as high pay, potential to be a topic of discussion, to attract fans – how have you been able to avoid that?
LHR: You have to quietly think things through and understand that how far you want to go in this industry is decided by which path you choose to take. Right now, I’m not trying to jump over a cliff – I’m taking it step by step and just trying to grow as an actor. Never put actors on a pedestal – no one will be able to pull off every single role, especially young actors. We don’t have that much acting experience, or you could even say we don’t have that much natural talent. If we are able to be guided by good production teams, good directors, and good scripts, we can maximize our skills. If we don’t have those resources, how do we proceed? It’ll just consume our energy.
— Men’s Uno, January 2018
“Once you set your sights too high, it’s easy to make mistakes. The easiest way to go about it is just don’t think that far. Right now, just focus on how to become a better actor. To me, every role that I take on is in preparation for the next one. Almost all the directors that I’ve worked with casted me because they watched my previous performances and decided, hey, that actor seems pretty reliable. That’s how I’ve gotten the new opportunities. You have to believe in the abilities that help you earn a living.”
“I like feeling a little uneasy. Actors don’t really need to have a sense of happiness, because this industry provides so many reasons for you to feel happy. You will be recognized by a lot of people while doing something that you love. You can travel around the world, and be the center of attention. You can wear the latest fashion…but when you have too much happiness, your thoughts, values, and your sensitivity towards social cues will gradually change. At that point, you will discover that your life feels rather meaningless. Even acting will just be a way of going through the motions – you’ll lose the enthusiasm for performance.”
“Good projects and roles require a certain amount of neuroticism – stubbornness, sensitivity, etc. When you exhibit a more layered personality, you will have a greater ability to touch people. If you are trying to pursue happiness everyday, it’s like boiling a frog in lukewarm water – you’ll slowly lose the state of mind that you need to have as an actor.”
— Bazaar Men, January 2018
LHR: The entertainment industry in the past may have operated by the rule “you have to get famous while you’re still young”, but I believe that whether it’s early or late doesn’t really matter. What’s important is “fast” or “slow”*. My view of acting as a career is still based on what I saw when I was a kid – when people respected performance.
ELLE: Do you worry? For example, do you worry about the fact that you’re famous at such a young age? How do you deal with the worries?
You would start from being an extra, or supporting roles, and slowly climb your way up, and slowly be remembered. You earn your way step by step, and only then you’d have the chance to take a lead role.
From my debut in 2015 (T/N: he said before he doesn’t really count 2014 because he went back to school for a year after Beijing Love Story), to when I’ve really been recognized by everyone, it hasn’t been even three years. Suddenly, everything is coming all at once – the things that I can tolerate, and the things that I can’t.
It’s like as soon as I wrap up filming for one project, I’m expected to start filming for the next one. There’s no time to wait. I’m very self aware, and I’m terrified that I can’t handle the responsibility*. Recently, I’ve been trying to do one thing, which is to go a little slower, to walk a little slower.
So my worry is, the speed at which I grow won’t be as fast as everyone expects. People’s expectations towards an actor is that if they have one good project, the next one should be even better. You’re not allowed to take a step back. I’m trying to walk steadily, and am only 21 this year. While I may have made a good decision this time, and I’m aware of how much energy I’ve exerted, how much work I’ve put in, I also worry on whether my next step will still be good.
— ELLE China, 2018
COSMO: What made you decide that you no longer wanted to “fast forward” (your career/life)?
LHR: I think there is a set lifespan for actors. It doesn’t have anything to do with your age though. Of course, you could choose to continue acting, but the actor in you may already be dead. I personally believe that you won’t be able to revive that, and you’ll no longer be able to improve or grow, which is why I call it death. The lifespan of an actor has to do with how much they’re using up of themselves. The less you use up, the longer you can “live”.
My impression of acting as a profession still remains at the deep awe and respect that I had as a kid, but the tempo these days is way too fast. I am already walking slower than most. When I was little, I believed that you had the choice to spend time filming steadily, and then go for one or two years of not filming. To me, that would be normal. But it’s different now.
— Cosmopolitan China, October 2018
The Paper: Before, you used to recommend the actors that you liked, like Huang Bo, and said you wanted to be an actor like them. These last few years, you’ve grown up. Have your thoughts on this industry and your goals changed?
LHR: I want to be myself. I think now, I won’t really want to say who I want to be like. I do my own things, and I’ll continue filming my own projects, because I know I can never become someone else.
The Paper: When did your way of thinking change?
LHR: Probably as I’ve accumulated filming experience. I can’t remember an exact point in time. but I slowly began to understand. Every actor is different. As you work with more and more actors, and see more things, you’ll know that every actor is unique. Every actor has their individual way of performing, things they’re good at.
You can never be like someone else, just like how two actors’ portrayal of the same role will be completely different. You’re the one who’s acting, who’s thinking. It’s not quite possible to start imitating someone else at any time, and you won’t be able to do it.
— The Paper, September 2018
“Everyone wants to choose between what’s right and wrong, but you might not have any idea which is which. So you’ll spend a lot of time trying to choose, and in the end, you’re just choosing between what’s difficult and what’s easy. So I feel like for anyone, there is really no clear way to predict whether a decision is right or wrong. Only when you start walking down that road will you know. And maybe if other people take this path, it’s right for them, but it’s not right for you. So I feel like for young people, they need to walk, not think too much.”
— NetEase, October 2020
“Many aspects of an actor’s career is decided by time. For example, getting into a character, and then coming out of it. Or things that I didn’t understand as a freshman. I might not have spent a lot of time trying to study it more, but suddenly understand it in these last coupe of years. This is what life experience brings to actors. Of course, natural talent is very important for an actor, but you have to experience the passing of time, experience life – all the joy, sadness, things that accidentally occur. Emotional fluctuations are where actors can find growth. Talent decides how much much you can absorb after experiencing these things.”
— ELLE, (released) December 2020
iFeng: What made you decide to join the China Coal Mine Art Troup?
LHR: My acting path is fairly traditional. When I was in middle school, my major was called singing, dance, and performance. Basically, our main focus, aside from singing and dancing, was performance. We already started line delivery classes then, to get an early start and establish a foundation. And I think to me, I felt like that’s how an actor should be, to get into a great college, to join a good art troupe upon graduation, and then slowly progress in your career. Not just in film and TV, but in stage plays as well, to have your own works. So at that age, the seniors that I respected all chose that path, and that influenced me.
iFeng: People say for an actor, talent is more important, and others say hard work matters more. What do you think?
LHR：I think both talent and hard work are important. But talent isn’t something we can decide. Hard work is. So my view is, in the majority of cases, under the precondition that we’re not at the level yet to really battle out talent, just being able to enter the industry means you have talent. The difference in talent levels, sometimes, isn’t great to a point where it can’t be overcome by hard work. So (in that scenario), I think hard work matters more.
— iFeng, February 2021