Liu Ye grows up on screen

Source:Global Times Published: 2009-5-6 22:59:24

By Qiao Yi

Actor Liu Ye.

Known originally for his boyish looks and gentle onscreen persona, actor Liu Ye’s most recent films City of Life and Death and Iron Man are proof that the actor is growing into more mature and darker roles.

Now 31, Liu first burst onto the screen at the young age of 20, as a young postman in the film Postmen, a performance which garnered him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at China’s Golden Rooster Awards in 1999. The actor then turned in another acclaimed performance as a mild-mannered homosexual in the film Lan Yu in 2000, before winning the Golden Rooster he narrowly missed before, when he clinched the award for Best Actor for his role in 2004’s The Foliage.

Liu continued to win many awards for his work and, in 2005, successfully made the jump to Hollywood, with the US release of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

But Liu was afraid that he was on the verge of becoming a one-dimensional actor, known only for his good looks and sympathetic onscreen personality.

“I want to be a professional, not just a face on a fashion magazine,” Liu said.

In 2007, Liu started to search out more complex and darker roles, beginning with the John Woo-produced Blood Brothers, in which he took on the role of a gangster in the rough-and-tumble of 1930’s Shanghai.

“The character is very different from my other roles. I play a gangster in the triads, who is very tough and aggressive. Blood Brothers offered me an opportunity to change my image,” he said.

Liu continued the darker trend with his next project, The Underdog Knight, where he played a retired and mentally ill soldier.

But Liu’s brooding onscreen presence truly came into full view with the nearly simultaneous release last week of Lu Chuan’s powerful film about the Nanjing massacre, City of Life and Death, and Yin Li’s Iron Man. The leading man in both films, Liu plays a brave soldier in Lu’s war epic and a bronzed oil worker in Yin’s film about those who struggled to develop China’s oil industry in the Taklamakan desert in West China.

To better get in touch with his character, Liu even braved the desert to see first hand how the oil workers live.

“I have talked to the real workers there, some who have been living there for 17 years. Nobody knows them, but they are so vital to our country’s development. No family, no entertainment, and just the desert. They have done an amazing job and I am really moved. I feel very proud that I could play the role,” he said.

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