A Low-Profile Wallace Huo
There are certain people in this world who exude an intriguing temperament by nature, the more uncertaint they become, the more people want to explore out of curiosity. Wallace Huo is obviously such a special person. You can only look from a distance with the temptation to get more. Particularly stars are being over consumed in this kaleidoscopic show biz. Some people try to maintain their popularity by revealing themselves in all possible occasions every now and then, exposing themselves in entertainment shows, having great fun along the way, and gradually getting lost in their own words. But Wallace Huo is wide awake and he can see things thoroughly. He is a ‘geek’ in the eyes of other people; someone not belonging to the show biz. But using his own way of surviving, he has created a brilliant path, which is different from others. Even in an age where micro-blog has become a universal tool, he remains as a kind of person living in the ‘mountain top cave’ which is hard to be understood by other people. He lives a comfortable and free life as compared with others and let his characters speak for himself. He lives a life as he wishes switching freely from being a star, an actor and a common person naturally without any difficulties, showing his multifaceted nature inadvertently. He uses magic to play a legend, uses the real state of mind to play Wallace Huo, and uses the simplest way to regress to living a normal life. So Wallace’s charm comes from being hard to understand. You don’t need to understand him, just quietly appreciate the characters he portrayed. Such as what he said: “I’ve never treated myself being an entertainment person. Every project is work to me and I’ll try my best to execute it. When I am not filming I’m a normal and common person.”
Role: Being a star
Being himself in the ornate stage
The classic “Zhong Xiaogang” in At Dolphin Bay must be mentioned when Wallace Huo is mentioned. Now looking back, Wallace Huo is still grateful. He said “If there were no Zhong Xiaogang, there would be no present Wallace Huo. Zhong Xiaogang demanded a strong presence to me as a newcomer, I was under a lot of pressure. I prepared myself a pair of sunglasses, which was actually used to cover up my lack of confidence, but turned out to be a special feature (for the role). I remember there was a scene about a press event and I needed to speak many lines on my own. Because of that scene I especially spent money to attend classes. I learned from a drama teacher and the results were better than I’d expected. I spent many hours on that scene and I still can say those lines nowadays. They are in my heart.” I was sceptical, after all it has been a very long time and so I asked him to say a few lines. It turned out that Wallace said a whole segment of lines out loud without the need to stop and skip any words.
Wallace Huo at that time was considered lucky. As a newcomer he filmed 5 idol dramas in one year, this was about receiving good treatments and being popular which were most envy by other people. But he didn’t seem to like himself during that period. He said: “I had too many scripts on hand and I was unable to digest them. I could only arrive at the filming sites and did what the directors told me to do. I don’t like this feeling of being out of control of the characters I portray. But in retrospective, it is ok for a newcomer to experience that state. It allowed me to understand the situations of the filming environment.” To a youngster who was suddenly packed in a glamorous world, it is easy to be self-expanded under the temptation of the neon lights. But Wallace Hou at that time maintained an unusually conscious mind. He decided abruptly giving up the idol path being built for him by other people and finally chose to come to China to explore a new path.
Changing to a new environment is certainly hard to adjust. Wallace Huo gave up the popularity he had built up in Taiwan and started all over as a newcomer. He believes this is a good thing to him. Both mentality and knowledge have been uplifted, he feels more at ease in doing things different than before.
Role: Being an actor
Uses acting magic to conquer the world
His first drama in China was “Tian Xia Di Yi”, an ancient drama. Wallace said: “Guihai Yidao was easy to master. I definitely couldn’t manage if I portrayed Roger Kwok or Li Yapeng’s roles. Relatively I played a role with fewer lines and with sincere emotions. To a newcomer it was relatively easy, because of the fewer lines. I think this role was particularly well written. I met Zhong Xiaogang in Taiwan and met Guihai Yidao in Mainland China, two roles I’m particularly grateful. I remember when I was filming Tain Xia Di Yi, Li Yapeng’s leg was injured so some fighting scenes were giving to me instead. One time I couldn’t continue after filming halfway. The director let me off to have an intravenous drip. I came back to continue filming after sleeping for 1 to 2 hours. It was suffering but I don’t regret. Without those experiences there would be no me in present days.”
Being an actor is a bitter errand. A tired body is just an aspect. If a role with abuse emotion is encountered, it is often double tortured. Wallace has a famous quote “being an actor is looking for abuse”. I asked him his interpretation of this quote. Wallace’s reply: “Filming is really torturing and abusing to people. And acting as a male lead for a Wuxia drama is even harder. In addition to maintaining a physical state, psychologically one must also have a good state of mind to face the people and bring up the morale of the entire crew. It is painful as well as enjoyable. Although being abused, that being abused brings happiness. This is quite contradictory. Nowadays after finishing a project I don’t think any more (of it) and go back to my own life. I stopped contacting the crew for a short while. For example, after finishing Swordsman, I stayed at home 3 days, 3 nights without talking. It’s fine after thinking through. But before I used to put myself in abnormal situations. Because I was new and inexperienced and put my own emotions into it. Like when I filmed for “Love at First Fight” I was in a frantic state. I was being overly excited even after the wrap up. I couldn’t stop my emotions. Another example is Tain Xia Di Yi. One day 10 scenes about Guihai Yidao becoming insane were arranged, after filming my hands were shaking after coming back to my room. I couldn’t retrieve from that state. And so later on I called my family and let them talk to me for a while and brought me back to reality.”
Without the treason of “exploring the world” in those days and remaining obediently acting as an idol -as designed by other people-, Wallace might have disappeared nowadays. Because of his long-term vision, as well as insightful into his career, his acting career can go a long way. He isn’t someone being crazily chased by fans but is a real competent actor using his life to create the characters. “Stars certainly must have charisma, with a very prominent personality to attract people. Actors only need to interpret his roles well with their own thinking. I don’t enjoy being a star. Don’t like noisy environment as well as l don’t process a charisma and personality to attract many people. I’m not someone who gets high by going up the stage. I’m more suitable for being an actor.” Wallace’s remarks have profiling himself thoroughly. The most unusual thing about him is being able to keep his head cool whether bestowed with favour or subjected to humiliation and attend to his own moral uplift. Not everyone can do that.
In a sense, actors and magicians are basically the same: using certain skills to appeal to the audiences to watch the occurrence of a miracle: profound, charming and mysterious. They appear friendly within certain distance yet it’s hard to see through their hearts. Wallace Huo is constantly performing ‘magic’ to give us surprises. His effortless handling skills presented us with magical characters, ever changing abruptly and unpredictably. You can never guess his breakthrough in the next second. It’s the so call one minute on-stage = ten years of efforts spent off-stage. We watch Wallace’s continuous wonderful acting on the small screen, but we can’t see the efforts he spent behind the scene. “Xin Ming Shi Ye” director Yuan Xiaoman once commented that Wallace likes to watch videos at home when not filming. Wallace said: “I liked to do research previously. I didn’t talk on the field. But now I talk more and have learnt how to relax. Trying not to be interweaved with something. Previously even with a mistake I made on acting, I couldn’t sleep at night. But now this is not happening. I don’t want to regret. I don’t want to hurt myself for being an actor. This is something I avoid. Now I’m more relieved and chat on the sets.”
Magicians require constant thinking. Self-confidence is built by projects after projects. Actors are the same. Wallace said he saw hope in a drama “Emerald on the Roof”. He said: “this drama made me become active. I could create some new plots. This was important to me. I suddenly knew how to act.”
Wallace’s many roles made people feeling devastated, who would have known the depressed prince could be so crazy when playing comedy. “Love at First Fight” Li Yashou’s totally new appearance was a big surprise to most people. Subsequently in the “Trouble of Insects” chapter in “Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei” his comedy cells were shown at their extreme. “At the beginning I really disliked this Trouble of Insects chapter. I didn’t know how to portray it when I received the script. Later on I watched a few scenes of Li Bo as played by Xiao Ben. His acting was exaggerated. A brainwave hit me. Why not playing along with him. A chapter I didn’t like at first turned out to be a chapter I liked the most. I remember the script just called him Mr Yun (cloud) without a full name. When I saw Xiao Ben I thought I should introduce myself. I said my last name is Yun (cloud), as Fu (floating) in Fu Yun (floating cloud). I purposely said it inaccurately (translator note: should be cloud as in floating cloud.) Later on I gave him a full name of Yun Shui Piao (cloud water flutter). Comedy is a lot of fun.” Wallace laughed excitedly.
After trying out a role with hardships in Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei, he later on challenged a completely different role with smoked makeup in Xin Ming Shi Ye. Wallace Huo has always been one who dares to try on different styles. I asked whether, because he is too handsome, what causes a distress to him, therefore, he particularly likes to have a break through. Wallace smiled and said: “l want to give the audiences a fresh image. Johnny Depp bought accessories for his characters. I’m learning from him. I believe style is important. Sometimes I could no longer do any new tricks from acting. But when a new style was out, a fresh idea also clicked in. The style in Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei gave me lots of help. Originally I didn’t know how to do it but after the role design was out, the idea clicked in.” Chatting until now, I suddenly remembered the ‘rumour’ about him paying out of his pockets to hire his own stylists for Xin Ming Shi Ye. So I verified this with him. Wallace said: “I hired stylists I trusted most to let them design for me. For instance, they designed the pirate costumes. The Reason for this is because I wanted to guarantee the success of this character and this series. If I wanted really delicate style, the crew couldn't afford it. I also don’t want the crew to spend extra money for me. So normally I make an agreement with them before accepting a series that I will take care of the design and don’t need them to bear the cost. The style will also be consistent with the theme of the series. I particularly believe that the style for an ancient drama is important. When the audiences watch a drama I believe a sense of reality is important, which attracts them to finish watching.” I could not resist asking: “ After spending so much money on styling, is there much left to earn?” Laughed out loud by Wallace: “Not necessary, my paycheck isn’t that low! For instance, the earring I bought for Xin Ming Shi Ye is cheap, only Rmb50 a pair.” From this he appears like someone who takes responsibility of the quality. I’m curious about his principle accepting a series. Wallace said: “Some projects are willing to spend money to engage me only because they want to use my name. I wont’ accept these projects. My standard of accepting a project is based on their needs of me. From my acting career there was one project I felt they didn’t really need me. I was at the wrong place. After that project I questioned myself. If they need me to accomplish something, I will certainly join in. For instance, When Tang Ren sincerely looked for me to join “Chinese Paladin 3”, they believed I was suitable for that role, which made me believed they needed me. Although I couldn’t understand the misty plots, I accepted it. At that time I didn’t even know how to portray Xu Zhangqing. Although up until these days I still don’t get a grip of the scripts, but I tried my very best during the filming process.” Wallace said with a smile.
Wallace recently accepted “Swordsman”. People wondered why he accepted this series. Wallace gave a simple answer that it was mainly because of “Linghu Chong”. He then explained in details: “Every male actor should like this character. I wanted to take a challenge. Also in my previous dramas they were all about me in love with a woman. But Swordsman is different. People around him were impressed because of Linghu Chong’s charms. I felt this was quite good. Why did I have to feel sorry myself for loving someone in every film I made? In this version of Linghu Chong his changes in the course are quite apparent. Everybody believes that Linghu Chong should be carefree and bohemian. I believe this is correct. But I divided Linghu Chong into sections. In the first half I acted like that. But after his master betrayed him plus his martial mother and martial sister left him, I believed he could no longer be positive. He couldn’t be bearish about these things. I didn’t want to play God. I believe Linghu Chong is a tragic figure. He should feel sad when he is sad. He has moments of hesitation.”
Of course, the most surprising is not about him taking on Swordsman, but his challenge of taking on the role of feminine toy boy Yang Lian Ting. Wallace said: “This adaptation has changed Yang Lian Ting. The change was made cleverly. He had the same face of Linghu Chong, which was why Dong Feng Bu Bai used him as a toy boy. But Dong Feng Bu Bai didn’t really get used to him because after all he was only a substitute. Yang Lian Ting is a complicated person. Really shrewd. But his screen time is short. I believe the audiences will have fun watching him. The original make-up for Yang Lian Ting was not so much. I asked the make-up stylist to make him a demon look with eyeliner and eye shadow. Gave a feeling of neutral sex. I quite enjoyed the process. Certainly some people may find such a change is too much. I agree as well. But from the angle of an actor this is enjoyable. I applied two ways in acting. Yang Lian Ting is a villain in this drama. It’s a good thing that (I) could apply different acting in a same drama.
Role: Being a common person
Using low profile to break loose of bondage
During a period in which only high-profile can make one standing out, every day new things happened making people dumbfounded. But once not filming, you can never find a trace of Wallace Huo. While other people still receive the pleasure of being glory after stepping down from the stages, he can break loose of the bondage being imposed on him for being an actor. Being obscured yet happily for being carefree. You will feel the distance between him and the show biz. You can rarely see him in major events. His fans often have to learn to remain calm. While the stars of other fan groups hold promotions after promotions, they freely follow their idol experiencing some moments of quietness. Such as what I saw before at one event, other fans were yelling their lungs out to support for their idols, Wallace’s fans were standing together watching and supporting him quietly. So as to speak, sometimes the glory on the surface is fragile bubble, but eternal force is well kept at heart. Certain kind of stars attract certain kind of fans. If one can endure deep loneliness, one can bear the glowing radiance. Apparently Wallace has been labeled as low-profile. Whenever his name is mentioned, the first description that comes to mind is this one. But Wallace said he doesn’t really try to be low-profile. He said: “I only want to maintain my work-life balance as much as possible. I don’t like to talk too much in front of the people. I only want the audiences to know I’m an actor. They can’t see me anywhere else but can see me on TV or theatre. I hope I can enjoy things that normal people do when I am not filming. I can live a normal life. At work, I’m Wallace Huo. I can show myself to you all. I can act whatever you like me to act. But privately I hope not to get too much attention.”
With Wallace’s remarks, I could not help thinking of an interview with Hu Ge not long ago. He said Director Zhang Li told him to minimize going to events so that the audiences can’t see the life he lives in in order to maintain a fresh image of being an actor. Isn’t this status what Wallace has maintained all along? But Wallace said: “I’m not that great, I’m only lazy.” He smiled and continued: “I was acting when I was at work. I don’t want to force myself to say some social words in real life. I want to stay true to myself. Of course, for some meaningful activities I will still attend. I am quite picky about this. Director Li meant only use the characters to speak out, I’m not up to that yet. But if I can do that in the future that’ll be great. This is what I’m trying to achieve. Such as Chen Daoming and Wang Zhiwen, I will make reference to them. Their philosophy is correct, putting acting at first.
Capricorn is cold at the outside but warm at the inside. Being in the show biz for so many years, Wallace Huo became acquainted with a lot of friends. The most interesting thing from his friends’ comments about him is he can remember what they like to eat. So every time they dine out he was responsible to make orders. So I asked him whether he is an observant (careful, considerate) person in real life? Wallace denied: “I am actually quite careless. I was responsible for making orders because they were too embarrassed to order.” Wallace laughed jokingly, then answered seriously: “But when filming I am observant. I will take care of the crew because they work hard. Privately I’m not that careful with friends and family relatively, after all they are staying in air-conditioned rooms. Sometimes when we film ancient dramas, some lady cast didn’t know whether they were needed (on that day). If none, I would ask them to go home to rest. In this area I’m sensitive. Some young artistes don’t know. I’m a big brother. Especially for ladies, I need to take care of them.” Although he has many friends, Wallace revealed he also prefers to be alone. He said: “Because of my work. I used to like being in big crowds. But I lived with a big group at work. There were lots of noises in the process. When encountered with directors who like to shout, it’s so noisy as in a food market. There is no need to speak so loud. Why roaring? People don’t understand if speaking normally? I especially don’t like these situations, but can’t escape. As such, I like to live a quiet life. It’s the best for being alone.”
Wallace has set up a studio lately. I said Capricorns are good at planning, but he modestly said: “I don’t have planning at all. I just do thing when it’s appropriate to do. My colleagues make the plans. They only need to tell me what they’ve done. I believe life cannot be planed. Like the studio, it is only more constructive in the recent two-year. I hope to have a studio, with colleagues coming in. Previously we were only me and my manager, two persons. There were many things we couldn't do due to limited manpower. Now I hope to have more professional people who can help me. This is better for me. I don’t need to sign with a company to live up with their expectations. Likewise, other companies may not dare to sign me. If they do something against my will, I will give them bad face. It is more secure to own a studio. Some other people already told me my emotions are shown on my face. l said I’m an emotional person. I think so. Sometimes I was talking happily but the next moment I didn’t want to talk at all. It could be due to some situations at the site, which made me upset. Back to the studio, everything is still in the refining process. We have plans. Once a plan is fixed we will let you all know. Also there's a thought of producing my own TV series. Because sometimes when filming for other people’s series, there are things that can’t be controlled.” At the end of the interview, I asked him what merit has he still kept at present days as compared to when he was a newcomer. After a deep thought, Wallace replied: “My state of mind. Not because I’m now a male lead I have changed my attitudes. I actually treasure it more and want to do more. When filming Swordsman, one day it was 40 degree Celsius. Sunny day. That day we filmed a big group. I was the first one standing under the sun waiting for the cast. I forced myself to do that. This is about attitudes. Because I portrayed Linghu Chong and everyone was looking up at me. I must lead by example.” So as to speak, from beginning to present, from Taiwan to Mainland China filming sets, he still has remained as the familiar Wallace Huo. He is the same old him, he has never changed.
TV Series: As compared between the current Wallace Huo and Zhong Xiaogang, who is more handsome?
Wallace: Zhong Xiaogang is more handsome on the face, but Wallace Huo is more handsome at heart (laughs).
TV Series: What is the most ideal happiness?
Wallace: I accept a play when I want to accept it. I don’t need to look at other people faces when I refuse (laughs).
TV Series: What do you fear most?
Wallace: I am afraid of getting old (laughs).
TV Series: What is your biggest merit?
Wallace: I’m easy going. Not forcing anything. (disadvantages?) Too many disadvantages (big laughs).
TV Series: If you meet the robot cat and you can ask for one thing from it, what is it?
Wallace: l want to have Jingxiang, Daxiong’s girlfriend (translator note: doraemon character. The robot cat belongs to Daxiong, which knows magic and can fulfill Daxiong’s wishes). I don’t know why I came up with this answer (laughs).
TV Series: What challenging role do you want to take at the moment?
Wallace: I still haven’t encountered a villain role. I believe I play a villain better than a good guy (big laughs).
TV Series: What kind of roles you definitely won’t take?
Wallace: One that requires dancing. I don’t know anything about dancing. I will go mad for taking up such a role (big laughs).
TV Series: What you must not miss?
Wallace: Music. I listen to music when I get up in the morning. I listen to music on the way to the filming sites. I also listen to music when I don’t need to film. Music calms me down. Can take me to another world.
TV Series: Is singing still your dream?
Wallace: Not a dream presently. It’s an interest (instead). If there is a suitable song in a drama I will still sing it.
TV Series: What romance in TV series you yearn the most?
Wallace: All too dramatic. I hope I have a normal love life. A simple one.
I still profoundly remember my first interview with Hua ge because of Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei. On December 31, 2010, 7pmish in the evening, our phones were connected. The reason why it is so memorable, other than it was New Year’s Eve, is that it was the most successful phone interview I ever had. Frankly speaking, I was quite nervous prior to the interview because more than once my media colleagues told me Hua ge didn’t talk much. So before the interview I prepared an agenda with questions more than double as compared to my other agendas. But after the phone was connected it was only to find out I was wrong. He was actually quite talkative. Besides, during the entire interview his cheerful laughter rendered joyfully, which was quite suitable for the New Year’s Eve atmosphere. I had a feeling that chatting with him could make my troubles disappear.
For this studio shoot interview Hua ge arrived 20 minutes earlier than the agreed time. Because he still hadn’t eaten at noon, an ordinary lunchbox was bought from the convenience store downstairs. Although there were staff at the studio, he handled things himself. After arriving at the studio, he started to eat while putting on make-up. Spotting our colleagues he asked with enthusiastic: “Have you had lunch yet?” Before everyone could reply, he suddenly interjected: “Can’t help if you haven’t eaten as I only have one lunchbox.” Hua ge’s cold humor amused the people at the studio and everyone laughed.
Wallace Huo was cooperative during the shooting. He didn’t refuse being bundled up as part of our plan. Although it was hard he was dedicated. The entire interview also fell into my expectations. It was still the same talkative with a laughter like spring breeze. Worth mentioning, this time he treated the studio shooting as if a character in a drama. He spent money to hire his own stylists. Our colleagues couldn’t help but sigh: “It's so domineering!” (translator note: in this context it means someone has a strong presence as the original Chinese word Baqi 霸气 (domineering) isn't necessary a negative word).