ARTS / TV
Actor expresses views on 'feminine' men and maintaining healthy relationships with fans
Tough guy
Published: Sep 12, 2021 06:18 PM
Promotional material for <em>Double Tap</em> Photo: Courtesy of Douban  Duan Yihong Photo: Li Hao/GT

Promotional material for Double Tap Photo: Courtesy of Douban

Promotional material for <em>Double Tap</em> Photo: Courtesy of Douban  Duan Yihong Photo: Li Hao/GT

Duan Yihong Photo: Li Hao/GT

Playing roles such as soldiers and policemen, Chinese actor Duan Yihong, 48, has always been seen as the symbol of a "tough guy" in China. His most recent role in the new TV drama Double Tap, which  debuted Thursday, is sure to only deepen this impression.

The series has been getting positive reviews from audiences, mostly for what reviewers are calling a "stunning" performance by Duan.

In an interview with the Global Times on Wednesday, Duan talked about the creative environment in the Chinese mainland TV industry and some recent hot issues, including the authority's ban on "feminine" men and how to maintain a healthy relationship with fans.

"If TV was filled with sissy images, I would be worried about the future of the nation as the trend would mislead children. It is horrible," Duan said, speaking about his mind.

The new show also marks the first time Duan has worked both in front of and behind the camera on a project. Duan noted that his experience working as a producer for the series has given him better insight into the difficulties involved in bringing something creative to the screen.

Something different

Double Tap's cast ignited Chinese netizens' excitement when they were announced, especially because of the participation of Duan.

"When I saw that Duan Yihong was one of the lead actors, I knew that the quality of the series would be stunning," one Sina Weibo user's comment represented many voices on social media.

Such compliments stem from Duan's successful roles, including Long Wenzhang in My Chief and My Regiment and Yu Guowei in The Looming Storm, the 2017 Chinese crime film that earned Duan a nomination for Best Actor at the 55th Golden Horse Awards and helped him win Best Actor at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Duan's poker face and refusal to react to a speech at the Golden Horse Awards in 2018 also won him a lot of applause from Chinese netizens as people on the stage were promoting "Taiwan independence." 

The 16-episode series, streaming on video platform Tencent Video, follows Beijing policeman Li Huiyan (Duan) as he investigates a kidnapping of a primary school student in a small town in Northeast China, where he meets Zhou You, played by Chinese actor Da Peng, and becomes involved in a feud spanning 30 years.

As both producer and lead actor for the series, Duan found himself facing a dilemma when it came to revisiting the kind of role that made him famous. 

He told the Global Times that he didn't want to create something similar to his previous works, even though they had been hits with audiences, and so he and his team sought to strike a balance between audiences preferences and artistic presentation while producing the series. 

Although he has played policemen several times throughout his career, Duan noted that each time he seeks to find the differences between these characters despite the fact that they are in the same profession.

"I look at the details of the different characters. Although they are all police, they have diverse educational backgrounds and family relationships. This can all be reflected in my performances," the actor noted.

To get close to the characters, he also tries to get inside their lives by experiencing them himself. 

"If your character is a soldier, you should experience military camp; and if you will play a role as a policeman, you should work with real police officers. It gives me a steady foundation."

Moving forward

The many popular characters he has portrayed over the years have earned Duan a label - tough guy. When asked what he thinks of this label, Duan said he does not reject it.

"This is a type of support and encouragement from audiences," he explained.

Working in an industry where fans can get very wrapped up in the lives of their idols, Duan emphasized, however, that he likes to keep a comfortable distance between himself and fans.

Although he does not often interact with fans on social media platforms, he noted that fans' comments on his TV dramas or films are still very important to him.

He explained that fan support and the preference of audiences act as a pressure or an energy that has continued motivating him to move forward all the time.  

"You feel you should not let them down," Duan explained.

"A performer's foundation is their works, not the support of fans though," he noted.

Chinese authorities introduced more strict regulations to the entertainment industry on September 2, banning individuals with records of illegal or immoral behavior and criticizing sky-high payments for stars and abnormal appreciation of effeminate men.

Duan, a tough man in the eyes of the public, said he supported the decision of the authorities.

He explained that it is clear that entertainers carry a heavy burden when it comes to influencing the public, especially the next generation, so they should act responsibly when it comes to their roles and works. 

"Currently, I am trying to find and cultivate more brilliant art creators and performers for the industry," Duan said, mentioned his own dreams for the industry.

Duan also called on the Chinese entertainment industry to provide more opportunities and space to independent artists who insist on making original creations. 

"They deserve the respect of others."
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