As the “premier” of Gallen’s Great Navigation draws near, let us warm up with an old but interesting article on his most recent drama – Lady Wang in Exile – where Gallen shared his thoughts and feelings both on Lady and on filming in Mainland China.
News article from Sina. English translation by Carmen Yip.
When I (the writer) was trying to get through with Gallen Lo, who was taking a short rest in HK, the other side of the receiver passes through some noisy background music from a pub, but it couldn’t envelop the happiness and lightness as observed in Gallen’s voice. Late December, he shall be returning to Hengdian for the TV series Lady Wang in Exile, and he is only taking a short period of rest in HK. When asked about his development in the mainland, he revealed that he had a taste of youth again.
Reporter: You are recently busy filming Lady Wang, the character of Wang Zhao Jun had been painted with different meanings all these years. From a historical view, how would you see this character?
Gallen: I think that Wang is a peaceful ambassador, and it brought the Xiongnus peace, and let the civilians live a harmonious life. HK is different from the mainland, the kids in mainland received more traditional history educations than those in HK; and because of many historical reasons, HK do not place great emphasis on this, so my historical knowledge is not even passable (laughs). As for the historical background of this series, I only got to know of it after some research. But I do admire Wang for her courage, it’s really awesome for someone to travel such a great distance to do something for the country.
Reporter: What do you think of the character Hu Han Xie, which you shall be playing? What kind of a character would you like to portray?
Gallen: I have filmed not many ancient series, and had never acted as a Xiongnu. The general impression of the Xiongnus are rougher than normal people, but the Hu Han Xie I am playing this time may be a bit different. Director Leng Shan had requested for the character to be not too rough, and have a literacy sense, have certain cultivation, and had experienced the hard times in life; it shall be a mature image.
Reporter: As a Hongkonger, and not knowing too much about the relevant historical background, do you think you will still be able to play the character well?
Gallen: The Hu Han Xie I am playing have very nice costume design and outlook, and it could solidly presents the character.
Picture is courtesy of designer xian, collected from Gallen Baidu Board
Gallen: (laughs) Of course not, but I have done some research on the relevant part, and until now I feel I still have the confidence to do it. Moreover, I had always been acting along the literacy trail, so I think it should not be a problem!
Reporter: After acting in so many series, like Cold Blood Warm Heart (CBWH) and At the Threshold of an Era (ATE), which are all popular among audiences; as an artiste, do you have any works which you are especially satisfied with?
Gallen: The one I am acting in recently, I’m quite satisfied with this, but as an artiste, I always hope the best will be the next series, so perhaps when I look back at this series a few years later, I may think that I could have actually fared better on it.
Reporter: What are you most satisfied with the series?
Gallen: Many, like great director, artistes, and it’s an enjoyable journey while shooting this series. For example I am playing brother to Tao Lu, and there are a lot of sparks there. When we were filming in Mongolia, we often sits on the grassland and chat; the longer we got along, the better our relationships get during filming. Within 10 years there won’t be a second pair of brothers as real as us. (laughs)
Reporter: Been acting for 18 years, when did you first have the feeling of being famous?
Gallen: In HK it should be CBWH, whereas in the mainland it was ATE, after the CCTV broadcasted it. What seems to be interesting is that, before that I have been filming in HK for 10 years, acting as good guys had never got me anywhere, in 1996 I was shooting CBWH, and acts as an extreme villain, and it actually gained me fame.
Reporter: How did TVB choose you to take that role? How does TVB normally assign roles to artistes?
Gallen: It’s all arranged by the company. Occasionally there will be some cameo appearances. At that time I was always acting as the good guy in HK, perhaps they wanted a new flavor for the audience! (laughs) Actually it’s easier to play the villain, you needs to have many considerations playing the good guy, you can’t have a quality in him which doesn’t feel too good; but it shall be all right when playing a villain, the expressions and feelings can be a bit more exaggerated.
Reporter: Do you worry it would spoil your image in the hearts of audiences acting as the villain?
Gallen: (laughs) I never thought about this problem. It (the role) actually presented a challenge – to let the audience know that Gallen Lo can do more than acting as the good guy, and that I can actually plays a villain equally well. I like this kind of challenges anyway.
Reporter: You have been taking those steady and mature roles, and there was a time when you were known as the ‘Auntie killer’.
Gallen: Perhaps it’s because I am the big brother at home, and I do have a mature outlook, so the directors would think these roles suit me more.
Reporter: Now that you are often filming in the mainland, do you think it is harder to gain fame in the mainland or in HK?
Gallen: Regardless of whether the filming is in the mainland or HK, it depends on an artiste’s hard work and cultivation, when it’s time the fame will come. Or it may be easier to have a moment of fame than to retain it. Certainly there needs to be a good script and a good production team, and this depends on chance… Perhaps there is greater competition in HK.
Reporter: You motto in life is “think more for others“, will there be any loss of chances which should be deservingly yours as a result of this?
Gallen: Basically, I don’t think so. When I lose some, I get some others. I am very satisfied with my present situation, and I think I just need to do my job well.
Reporter: Now you’re very busy with work, do you feel guilty having less time for your family?
Gallen: This is an inevitable issue, I now have a very good chance, and I can’t abandon that, my family is also very supportive!
Reporter: You have cooperated with so many people in the circle, and there must be quite a few you do appreciate, can you talk about them?
Gallen: Are you talking about directors? I do appreciate the present director for Lady Wang, he works very hard, has the cultivation, and has strict requests for us artistes. For example Rain Li and I are only to speak Mandarin, and if we happen to speak Cantonese we would have to give a treat.
Reporter: Besides Leng Shan, who are the other directors you appreciate more?
Gallen: Many, like Zhang Yimou, Jiang Wen, I do hope I have the chance to cooperate with them, because they are directors with (great) ideas.
Reporter: What about artistes?
Gallen: Tang Guo Qiang is my idol, but it’s a pity we don’t have any scenes together in the series. I hope to cooperate with him in the future. It was said that he was ranked the 9th in the nest calligraphers of China, it’s impressive. I like calligraphy very much too, and would write them on newspapers when I was little, but they’re definitely not as good as Tang’s (laughs).
Reporter: You might be thinking of developing towards the movie industry, and you have mostly been filming TV serials so far. Will there be any difficulties for the change?
Gallen: Universe is currently managing all the contacts for me, I can act in series, and I can act in movies. I think that no matter it is the movie or the series, it’s still acting to the artiste, I feel there is not much difference between them, and they shouldn’t be discussed separately. And this time when we are filming the series, the feelings are almost the same as in filming a movie.
Reporter: Why are you focusing on developing in the mainland?
Gallen: I feel it’s quite enjoyable filming in the mainland. Firstly, the director gives you greater space, although his demands are higher, but the director will spend more time communicating with you. Last time we had a sunset scene for 3 running days, and the director is very serious about it, and this is an impossible thing in HK. Secondly, HK shooting are very rush, a 20-episode modern series will take 2 months plus to complete, and even if it’s ancient it will take only three months plus, in the mainland it shall take more than 5 months.
Reporter: Won’t you feel that mainland series are too draggy?
Gallen: No, I think this kind of serious attitude is very good, only that will produce a good work, and I especially want to cooperate with CCTV now. (laughs)
Reporter: Which type of films would you like to cooperate with CCTV?
Gallen: Historical dramas. I think CCTV has a very good historical cultivation, unlike HK. For certain historical reasons there seems to be things lacking, and we often can’t get the right feeling here in HK.
Gallen’s historical dramas with CCTV now include Great Navigation, depicting the voyages of “Chinese Columbus” Zheng He (Cheng Ho) during Ming and China’s Moon on Hu’s Land, depicting the turmoil in Northern Wei. Both are scheduled to be aired on CCTV this year, with Great Navigation on golden time slot this coming summer.
Best of lucks to Gallen on his future “voyages”!
More: Check out Gallen’s CCTV interview 08/16/2006 – English translation made available by Jaynestars
::: mimosa :::