Archive for the Shawn Dou (Dou Xiao) Category
For 23-year-old Dou Xiao, overnight success is not just a cliché. Debuting in Zhang Yimou’s saccharine – but chaste – romance Love Under the Hawthorne Tree (2010), Dou opened the 2011 CCTV Spring Festival Gala with a song-and-dance routine featuring co-star Zhou Dongyu and is now on the verge of Hollywood recognition in the upcoming war epic Nanjing Heroes alongside Christian Bale and director Zhang.
But this rising star in the Chinese film industry hasn’t changed much from the shy young man that first appeared in Hawthorne’s press conference last year.
Promoting latest film The Seal of Love recently in Beijing, he sat down with the Global Times to talk about Zhang and his plans for success and the future.
Zhang would always be his guidance even if Dou co-operated with other directors in the future, the actor affirmed. “Zhang led me into the world of film and acting, when I was still an ignorant boy. There’s a Chinese saying that best describes my feelings for him: ‘He who teaches me for a day would be my lifetime counselor’.”
He recalled their first meeting at audition: Dou wore shoulder-length dyed blond hair and a racing jacket. “I’m still amazed at my luck that, with that look, Zhang picked me for the role of an innocent young man in the 1970s.”
Confidentiality agreements prevent him from revealing details of Nanjing Heroes. Dou would only say that he had finished his part and it was quite a challenge, both physically and mentally, to play a Chinese soldier during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45). He lost over 10 kilograms shooting Hawthorne but was required to regain both weight and a strong physique for the role of a soldier, spending months in the gym before shooting this spring.
From stills revealed earlier, Dou is covered from head to toe in mud revealing only his signature white teeth. “The mud was actually made of black sesame paste, syrup and paint, which is very convincing as a visual effect but takes ages to wash off,” Dou smiled.
Having grown up in Canada, Dou was less familiar with the film’s background than the average Chinese-educated man, though he insisted he has been learning Chinese history since. He thanked Zhang for tutoring him in every scene, analyzing how to create the role with that background. “I was really impressed how profound his knowledge and understanding of the history was.”
His only regret is not meeting Bale. The two missed each other by shooting their parts at different times. “He [Bale] and Jonny Depp are two of my favorite Hollywood actors. They are able to manage success in both commercial blockbusters and artistic films, which is a direction I would like myself to go in the future.”
CPC leader in an artistic film
For now, Dou will stick to “artistic” films a little bit longer, with his latest work seeing him play Qu Qiubai, one of the early leaders of Communist Party of China (CPC) in the nationalistic The Seal of Love. Critics have praised a portrayal of Qu the leader as gentle, pure and charming.
But Dou admitted that he never thought himself as being able to play a CPC leader and took the role for having enjoyed the previous works of director Huo Qijian. “[Huo] introduced Qu to me in details, not focusing on his contributions of political life, but him being romantic, educated and talented while persistent in his dreams.” Dou was then interested in the character, started reading of material about Qu and the period.
To have young actors play CPC former leaders and heroes is a win-win situation, according to Dou. “We young actors can learn more about history, and when young audiences see their favorite young actors play such heroic roles, they will be attracted to watch and learn more.”
Source: Global Times