Wallace Huo – There is a Yang Guo living inside him
December 24, 2015
Wallace Huo is in fact very handsome. He has sharp facial features, deep eyes, his forehead is filled with profundity and mystery.
Although no advanced news had been released, many fans came to the ceremony of China Newsweek’s “2015 China Influential” event after learning the news from other sources. They looked enthusiastic. Wallace Huo seems getting used to that scene. He smiled slightly among the crowd with a good manner. He didn’t act too warm. He didn’t try to please his fans and yet he neither didn’t ignore them indifferently.
He doesn’t have a Weibo account. He doesn’t participate in Wechat. He uses mobile to contact people, not the internet. He doesn’t even watch his own shows. He doesn’t understand why people put in so much emotions to the imaginary dramas.
Acting is Hide and Seek
In 2015 Wallace swept the TV screen. Other than the re-airing of his older shows, his ancient fantasy drama “The Journey of Flower” and modern psychological suspense drama “Love Me If You Dare” once again hit the viewership chat.
Especially “The Journey of Flower”, which is wrapped with a fantasy theme about a tragic and forbidden love story, is unstoppable getting the attention of the audience. It seems to become the national drama of 2015. Even during the morning and evening peak hours in the MTR, numerous people who are under the pressure of work and life, watched the screen of their small phones. Wallace is wearing a white gown, elegantly playing the cool and lonely male lead.
From the original novel, there is a paragraph describing the master this way: “Slightly frown eyebrow, cool and indifferent; gentle like thin wind; solitary, cold and outstanding, long hair like waterfall; eyes like falling stars; his gesture moments can make the land seem pale; his elegant style can make people crazy watching him.” Although such a description seems to be fundamental to any popular online novel, on the screen Wallace stands such an exaggerate description. After the heat of “The Journey of Flower” Wallace has tried to clear himself from his character: “Bai Zihua doesn’t resemble me. He is an immortal. I’m an ordinary person.”
During the interview with China Newsweek, Wallace emphasized his ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’ characteristics. “I’m a down-to-earth person.” “It’s work that makes me seem extraordinary. I’m actually very ordinary.”, he told China Newsweek. Contrary to his fairy tale characters, Wallace doesn’t think high of himself during daily life. The reason he seems secretive is because he doesn’t follow the trend. He doesn’t know the internet language. He doesn’t know the difference between CP and IP. He doesn’t want the meaning of ‘warm man’. He doesn’t understand why the audience likes to see him being tortured. During the Weibo chat for “The Journey of Flower” he casually and lovely answered a fan-raised question: “What do you like about Bai Zihua?” with “White”. He loves his acting career. But he doesn’t do any ‘add-ons’ required to be an idol. He generally and unknowingly breaks any image or aura of an idol being imposed on him.
“My life would be pale if I weren’t an actor. I’ve been to many places and have seen many people. I’ve even suffered a lot.”, Wallace told China Newsweek. Although in love with his career, Wallace has maintained a certain distance and sober. “I can’t understand not being able to split between acting and real life. This is only a job. Don’t bring your character with you to real life. I own my life. My characters are fixed by the scripts. Bringing something fixed to your own real life isn’t worth.”
Wallace likes to describe his acting as ‘hide and seek’. “Sometimes you can see my real heart in my plays, it’s just that you don’t know.” He joked slyly. “Sometimes I use my characters to say something from my heart. There are complains and scoffs. But the audience thinks those are from my characters. This is like hide and seek. It always leaves room for imagination.” Wallace explained to China Newsweek.
“Should I come to this place?”
In Wuxia novels we often see this: an insignificant young man, resort on talent, effort and a bit of opportunity, finally reaches the throne and becomes a master in the martial art world. But the young man doesn’t want to live that life. In his heart, though the hut is small, the fields and frog are somethings what he misses the most. To some extent this is like Wallace’s life track.
He has never wanted to be a star. But he became an an undoubted idol during a period of the sound of many voices. He loved singing when he was a student. Because of a chance to sing the theme song if he was picked to play the lead role, he went to apply for the role. By chance he has become an actor.
He doesn’t process what an idol more or less has: an ‘acting’ character. He is introvert and once very shy. When he was at first in the showbiz he was afraid of the camera. He didn’t know how to work and where to place his fingers. He has accumulated his experience gradually, under the harsh criticism and revile of the directors. For a long time he didn’t put acting as a long time career, but just a job needed to be done.
Like many people, Wallace liked Wuxia novels when he was a young man. Although he has played many Wuxia characters there is only one character that he feels with a sense of identity – it’s Yang Guo.
Yang Guo is a loner. Wallace looks about the same on screen. Yang Guo doesn’t have a perfect family and because of such it leaves a trace of scars. Wallace once felt a sense of humility because his parent breakup. Yang Guo most of the time is silent. Wallace is also someone who doesn’t like to explain and advertise himself. In addition, when they’re surrounded by a crowd they still feel a sense of loneliness --- after these comparisons, Yang Guo is closer to Wallace Huo’s heart than the Bai Zihua and Linghu Chong he has played.
“I like to soak myself in the story of “The Return of the Condor Heroes”. Yang Guo’s defiance loneliness and independence more or less are something Wallace once has experienced before.” Wallace told China Newsweek. “My schoolmates said I look cold. Because I didn’t like talking I seemed not approachable.” Later on after joining the showbiz, “Because I was raised up in an ordinary family I didn’t know anyone in this business. For a long time I felt I don’t fit in. Many times when I stood under the spotlights I thought should I come to this place?”
After a long period of time between feeling lost and fitting in, Wallace still feels he shares some characteristics of Yang Guo even though he has determined acting is his goal. Wallace’s attitude toward life is both ‘optimistic and pessimistic’. He hates crowds and likes to be alone. He likes to give himself room even when he is most busy. Wallace has little expectations from other things and people. He even has a sense of ‘negative’ value as generally processed by old style people: It’s normal if people treat me badly; if they treat me nicely I need to do extra to thank them.
He never watches his own shows. He also doesn’t feel his face makes him appearing as a star. “I am in fact non confident. There are so many good artists and I think its because I’m lucky that people knows me.” Whenever a show is out, he takes the comments easy. “If people thinks the show is good I’m happy. If they think the show is so so I won’t feel lost because I think that’s normal.”
Hong Kong novelist Lin Yanni once wrote an essay titled “Miss a lifetime After Seeing Yang Guo”. In fact, based on factual analysis the different ladies appearing in “The Return of Condor Heroes” who are more or less related to Yang Guo to certain extent ‘love him but can’t get him’; somehow reveal the sadness of all the fans in the world.
Based on numbers, Wallace must have more fans than Yang Guo. In whatever events he turns up a vast number of fans show up. Some internet pals also post on social media, “Every time when I read an ancient love novel I have Wallace as the male lead.” But no matter it’s Yang Guo or Wallace Huo, they hope to have respectful audience, rather than admirers.
“When I left Taiwan for Mainland China because I hoped to be a real actor, I had to sacrifice my appearance to be an actor. I don’t mind to look ugly. I don’t need to be a mega star. I only hope I have some respectful audience who can see my hard work.”, Wallace told China Newsweek. In the early years Wallace made friends with some fans. “I hope they’ll tell me what I have done wrong in my plays and parts they find funny….” But in recent years the interaction is getting less and less. “I think it’s because the technology is too advanced. They lift their phones and shoot me when they see me.” He seems helpless when he speaks about this.
Used to be slow
Although as an actor in the 21st century, you can still often find that Wallace still processes the old style of those old Shaw Brothers and TVB actors. They’re referred as ‘liquorice actors’ meaning they are important but yet can’t be the leads. They support, reconcile and guide the plays. They have excellent acting skill but they don’t steal the shows. They leave deep impressions to the audience with just a line or a gesture.
As a male lead in most TV plays, Wallace however has that ‘liquorice actor’ characteristic. He is devoted, professional, never late and 120% enthusiastic about his work. Before turning up for any event, he prepares his matching clothes and shoes. He is gentle and friendly, but doesn’t try to look lovely. He mingles with fans. In other words, deep in his heart, he treats acting as a technical work, he stays a distance from the showbiz.
Because of the above characteristics Wallace is being called by his partners and fans as the ‘old veteran’. He doesn’t understand this nickname which is full of reverence and compliments. But somehow he admits he is ‘old style’. He isn’t keen on popular digital products and communications. He even resists using them. “I call when I want to talk. I can’t chat on Wechat.” He insists on not opening a weibo account. When the producers ask him to open one, he thinks: “In the old days there was no weibo, weren’t the shows promoted?”
He thinks he is someone who doesn’t like to share his life. The vast self promotions on Weibo is something new that he can’t understand. “I will always find that there is nothing to share of my real life. To me it’s about 3 meals a day.” Then he lovely adds: “Sometimes maybe two or four meals.”
“Everything used to be slow in the old days, cars, horses, posts.” Wallace opts for those old days, such as the song “Used to be Slow” by Mu Xin.
Many years ago Wallace started to love vintages. Even now he still likes singers such as Luo Dayou, Jonathan Lee, Sarah Chen, Jacky Cheung and Sandy Lam. “I used to think the melodies are nice. But now I know what the songs are about.”
He never watches his own plays. But he likes to watch old movies during spare time. He likes the “Rouge” most, directed by Stanley Kwan and led by Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung. It is about a story of a bumpy ride which turns the vast sea to a vast land. “The love in the old days is so strong. I’ve watched many times and still feel touching.” In his era Wallace has gained popularity and success. But he tries to keep a slight distance from it. “Everyone has the right to choose whatever life he wants to live. Time will move ahead, but I don’t need to follow it slavishly.”
Sometimes he mocks himself: “Generation goes by quickly. I can’t follow it.” In fact, he resists on some principle. “I’m an actor. My job is to play my characters well. I don’t know how to promote myself. I learn that you don’t do something you don’t know. It’s no good if you force yourself.” “I wouldn’t know what to say if I opened a weibo account. Do you want me to say how good I am? I really can’t say it.”
“I want to act a little guy.”
Some years ago Wallace participated in an ancient drama calls “Strange Hero Yi Zi Mei”. The biggest gain from that drama isn’t about his character, but because he got to know his admired idol Hong Kong actor Liu Kaichi.
To many people Liu Kaichi isn’t a name they can remember right away. But when they see his face, and if they have seen TVB shows, they will know him. Graduated from TVB’s 8th artist training class, he has participated in many plays, some even have disappeared. In his era when Chow Yunfat and Kent Tong became famous stars, Liu Kaichi still played a small role in many dramas with his excellent acting skill.
Wallace admires him greatly. To him Liu Kaichi completely demonstrates all the elements of a good artist or actor: Excellent acting skill, a villain, never show off, doesn’t participate in gossip, and no bad rumors. In other words, he is an actor, not a star.
One day at the filming set, Wallace shared the same car with Liu Kaichi. The young Wallace couldn’t wait to consult the elder: “Can you tell me. What should I do to be like you?” Liu Kaichi replied faintly, that even sounded like perfunctory. “You don’t need to learn acting. All you need to do is to be a good person. “I was totally confused.” Wallace remembers now after that, with a question mark in his head, he started to observe Liu Kaichi. Wallace discovered that he is simple. A simple person.” Also everyday he demonstrated to me how to be a good person”. Liu Kaichi came and went silently with a backpack. He didn’t participate in discussions. He never complaint. He didn’t participate in gossips. Other than work he listened to the songs recorded by his kid.
“Anyone can act as long as someone wants to cultivate you. But to be a good person is something not all people can do.” Wallace concludes. He doesn’t think this career which seems bright and dazzling is amazing. The real amaze is when you can still insist on being yourself and not following the wave in this chaotic condition. Since entering the showbiz in 2002, in more than 10 years Wallace has played many roles but he doesn’t really want to be like any of his characters. “Actually I want to play something resembling real life such as a bottle neck at work, troubles at some encounters and trivial problems. I don’t want to play a high ended person or role which is trying to transmit positive energy.”
When being asked to describe his ideal character and story, Wallace said: “My story has a little guy. He is ordinary but works hard to climb the ladder. Finally he gains his own piece of sky.” Wallace slowly says that out. “You know that piece of sky doesn’t have to be big, but it can feed yourself, support your family and that’s enough. This is the kind of story I find meaningful.” Wallace suddenly laughs, with a lively tone, he adds: “That’s actually my own story.”
在接受《中国新闻周刊》的采访时，霍建华也多次强调着自己“普通”与“平凡”的特质，“我是一个很接地气的人。”“是工作让你变得看起来不平凡，其实我很普通。”霍建华对《中国新闻周刊》说。 与他所演绎的那些带有强烈童话特质的男主角所不同的是，生活中的霍建华绝不高高在上，他所具备的一点点神秘感，完全是因为他不追赶潮流，也不懂流行的网络语言。 他不知道CP和IP有什么分别，不知道暖男的定义是什么，不懂为何观众喜欢看自己在剧中被“虐”。而在《花千骨》的微访谈中，被问及欣赏白子画哪一点时，他以“事不关己”的态度给了一个“呆萌”的答案：白。 他热爱演员的职业，却坚持不接受任何“偶像”所附加给自己的一切，甚至，常常喜欢无意识地打破任何“偶像”有关的幻象或者光环。
霍建华喜欢把演戏比喻成“躲猫猫”。 “其实有时候，你会在作品里看到我的真心，只不过你们不知道而已。”他有点狡黠地开着玩笑。 “有时候我也会借着角色，说一些我想说的话出来，有抱怨，也有调侃，但观众会以为那是角色说的。这样的感觉很像捉迷藏，永远有一点神秘感和想象的空间。”霍建华对《中国新闻周刊》这样形容。
在武侠小说中，我们常常能看到这样的桥段，某个出身低微的少年，却能够凭借天赋、努力、机缘以及一点点的好运气，最终走上宝座，成为笑傲江湖的一代宗师。 但少年却并不想要这样的日子，在他的心目中，茅檐低小、田野蛙鸣才是真正值得怀念的人生。 某种程度上，这仿佛也是霍建华的人生轨
杨过很孤傲，电视影像中的霍建华看起来仿佛也是那样； 杨过小时候没有拥有过完美的家庭，并因此在心里留下暗暗的伤痕，霍建华也曾经一度因为父母离异而产生自卑感； 杨过在大部分时间都很沉默，霍建华也不是一个喜欢解释与标榜自己的人； 并且，他们在面对人群和热闹时，始终都有一种如影随形的孤寂感伴随左右——这样类比起来，杨过仿佛比霍建华演绎过的白子画与令狐冲更接近他本人的内心。
在经历过很长一段时间的迷惘与适应之后，早已经确定了自己演员目标的霍建华也仍然保持着与杨过相类似的某些性格。 霍建华的处世态度，更像是一种“乐观的悲观主义”。 讨厌热闹，喜欢独处，即便在最忙碌的时候，也要给自己保留一点心灵空间。 霍建华对人对事的期待值非常低，他甚至带有一点那种老派人常常具备的“消极”价值观：世人待我差是正常，待我好才需要我额外去感恩。
由于这些特质，霍建华甚至被一些合作伙伴与粉丝称为“演艺圈的老干部”。他并不理解这个充满了敬畏与恭维的外号，但也或多或少承认，自己确实有点“老派”。 他从不热衷任何流行的电子产品与通信工具，甚至有点“抗拒”使用，“有事情我更习惯打电话，没办法对着手机微信一直说下去。” 他坚持不开微博，并且会在制片方建议开设一个进行宣传时，在心里默默反问：那以前没有微博的时候，新戏难道就不宣传了吗？
某一次，在剧组，霍建华碰巧与廖启智乘坐同一辆车，于是，年轻人迫不及待地抓住机会问前辈：“可不可以告诉我，我究竟应该怎样做，才能和你一样？” 廖启智的回答非常淡，甚至听起来有点“敷衍”地“老生常谈”：你不用学演戏，把人做好就可以了。 “当时我就蒙了。”今天的霍建华回忆说，但在接下来的工作时间，心里带着问号的他一直在默默地观察着廖启智，霍建华发现“他是一个好简单，好简单的人”，并且“他每天都有不同的示范给我看，怎样做一个人”。廖启智背着双肩包，静悄悄地出入剧组，不参与聊天，不参与抱怨，不参与八卦，除了工作，就是静静听随身听里面自己小孩录的歌。
“其实演戏任何人都可以演，只要有人挖掘你、栽培你；但做一个好人，却不是任何人都能够做到。”今天的霍建华“总结”道。 他并不认为这个看起来光鲜又耀眼的职业有什么了不起，真正了不起的是“在一个混乱的环境里，如何不随波逐流，真正坚持做自己”。 从2002年出道至今，十几年间，霍建华已经演绎了大大小小数十个角色，但并不认为那其中有自己真正想要演绎的人物。 “其实我想演一些很生活的东西，工作上的瓶颈，遭遇的烦恼，琐琐屑屑的问题，我不想刻意去扮什么高大上，刻意传达什么正能量。”霍建华对《中国新闻周刊》说。