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The career path of George Hu has been a serendipitous one:  The native New Yorker was talent scouted whilst on a family visit to Taiwan, despite being unable to fluently speak Mandarin, or Taiwanese.  That didnít stop Hu from becoming one of Taiwanís most popular television and film actors. 

In Director Huang Chao-liangís semi-biographical opus, HAN DAN, Hu seethes volcanically as the good boy bullied into going bad.  Hu sat for an exclusive chat with LMD about the movieís combustible mix of internalised rage and firecrackers.

Dig it!

 

HAN DAN

George Wu

 

The Lady Miz Diva: How did the role of Lin {Zheng-Kun} come to you?

George Hu:  Well, we {Director Huang Chao-liang} worked together {SUMMER FEVER}, so he had the image of me playing this role.  He was just trying to connect my own personality to this character.  Thereís two main leads in this film; and theyíre each a shadow of him.  They are both sides of him, my character is his good side gone bad.  The other character is the bully becoming the good guy.

So, he would give me one word in Chinese, which translated means ďhide,Ē or ďburied.Ē  I didnít understand until I started looking at the characterís background story and the script, and it felt like I knew what he meant afterward.  Because there are areas where, if, for a regular person -- for instance, like me -- if you would come across a conflict, sometimes you would explode.  Sometimes you would react towards the person that gives you these negative comments, or negative behavior toward you; but Director wanted his character, Lin -- heís burying all those emotions, and it got me sick.  It got me sick to the point where we were filming, and I was like, ďWhy?  Why?Ē. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  This film has enough character development for four different movies.  Your Lin is the quintessential ďgood boy,Ē  Yet, throughout the duration of this film, his emotional arc is like a roller coaster.  How did you work with Director Huang Chao-liang, to keep a steady line through so much upheaval?

GH:  Before filming, we were reading the script probably three or four times, back and forth, back and forth.  So, in every scene would talk about, ĎWhat do you think this character would do?í  In his mind, Director has his own story, and I would have my own story; and we would just try to meet in the middle.  He wouldnít go too overboard in saying, ĎI want this,í or ĎI want that.í  He would be more lenient.  So, when we found our point, it would be easier to film this character.

There were times when we would go off the roller coaster; I would go straight sometimes, and he would say, ďNo, no, no, you gotta take it back in.  You have to wait for this moment to explodeĒ.  So, that was why when I exploded, it felt so good.  I finally exploded, because there were all these emotions buried deep within this character.

 

LMD:  Knowing that so much of the film is based on the life and personality of Director Huang, was he open to your interpretation and suggestions about a character that was essentially himself?

GH:  He was definitely open to my suggestions, and I was definitely open to his.  Plus, because this character is based on his self-memory, as well, I would definitely have to listen to his side of the story and mesh it with my side of the story to make it more reasonable for me to be comfortable acting this character as a role.  So, at first it was a little bit {tricky}, but then afterwards, it was like, ĎYou know what?  It does make sense, because heís been through it.í  He says itís been through it, so Iím not going to question that.  {Laughs}

 

LMD:  There is not a lot of dialog in this film, and we have to sort of study your characterís face to understand what heís thinking.  In that climactic scene, before Lin finally does explode, you can see the moment when his heart breaks watching the girl he loves with his trash rival, and then the bottled up fury when the rival taunts him.  In that moment you keep waiting for him to haul off and rip the guy to pieces, but he never does.

GH:  This character, I would say, can backstab a person, if he wanted to.  He doesnít want any confrontation up front; he wants confrontation in the back.  In that moment when he just wants to punish that bully, he didnít want to really kill him.  He just wanted to punish him.  Lin wanted him to deal with the pain that he dealt with, that he had to go through.  So, he pretty much lights it up on fire, but he didnít think that that situation would happen.  He didnít think it all through.

 

LMD:  You mentioned how you were becoming physically sick of having to internalise so much of Linís emotions.  Were you able to leave Lin on the set at the end of the day?

GH:  I thought when it was the huge wrap -- when we were done with the film -- that I was leaving him, already.  Back when we were filming the first film together, that got to me after two years.  Looking at the trailer, I broke down.  I thought I was over it, because it was two years after that film, why am I being upset and really blue when watching this trailer?  So, Iím not totally over it.  So, I reminded myself not to get too deep with this new character. 

Luckily, it was only a month, because after wrapping filming, I was doing some photo shoots and commercials, and I was looking in the mirror and seeing something wrong.  There was really something wrong with me. {Laughs} It was definitely not me. {Laughs}  Itís something like possession, but itís not.  I have to learn to get rid of all this. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Tell us about filming the firecracker ritual.  Please tell me it was all CGI?

GH:  Okay, it was definitely CGI, but we had to make it more realistic.  We were still on the podium being carried around, and they would light the firecrackers from about three yards away.  I mean, itís kind of far, but not too far, because firecrackers, they donít have eyes; meaning when you light them up, they can shoot up anywhere.  So, you still have a little bit hitting your skin, but it wasnít anything too severe, but the feeling actually helped my character.

 

LMD: Iím curious about what motivates Lin to not only take responsibility for A-yi {Ming-yi}ís rehabilitation, but to keep him nearby and really bring him into his life and business?  At first it seems clear itís guilt over the fireworks incident, but then there is bonding that occurs between the pair of them.  Talk about the arc of their relationship.

GH:  In my version, I would say itís because he didnít have that many friends back then.  Even though A-yi was his childhood bully, Lin found his other side.  He see this other side, where, if we were best friends, A-yi would do anything for me:  We would protect each other, he would protect me, I would protect him, and itís sort of like a brotherhood to him.  He saw this in him. 

But, when Lin calms down, and just thinks back -- because he canít let go of the past, he thinks back a lot -- he thinks, if you didnít bully me, I wouldnít be the way I am right now.  Itís because of you that Iím me, and itís because of me that youíre you.  So, he canít forget the past, and once he thinks about it, itís to the point where heís hiding all the secrets behind him, and keeping them away from A-yi until he found out.

 

LMD:  That relationship is just plain weirdÖ

GH:  Itís weird, yes.  Itís like, either itís betrayal, or brotherhood.  Itís like a mix between those two.

 

LMD:  So, how did you and the other actor, Cheng Jen-Shuo work together to build that strange bond?  Did you spend time together off the set, or extra rehearsals?

GH:  Not really.  I mean, before shooting, we got the chance to meet with each other, and there was a spark that went off every time weíd meet each other.  It was like, ĎThis is weird, but itís nice,í because weíd known each other for a long time, but we started work not too long ago, and we were buddy-buddies off set all the time.

For the brotherhood part, it was easy to act.  We would always kid around.  When it got intense, that was when we would really give it 110%.

 

LMD:  As HAN DAN is based off Director Huangís real-life experiences, were there particular memories he shared with you from his real life to help you develop your character?

GH:  Throughout his childhood, everybody was also looking up towards him.  Out of his siblings, everybody was looking at him, saying, ĎYou have a bright future. I can tell you have a bright future.Ē  But at the same time, when he would go to school and deal with being bullied, he said to himself that he didnít want to be the one protecting the bullies, so, he had that mentality to fight back.  So, thatís the part where the other side of his character comes in. 

Plus heís from Taitung, which is the ceremonial area; it gives him an aspect of writing the script for four years.  So, he gave me a lot of inferences from back in the day, where he wanted to fight back, but if he fought back, it would affect his familyís name.  He told me things like that. 

In the end, I understood what he was saying about this character where you cannot do anything at all.  You will have your chance, just not the way the other character behaves towards fighting back.  Lin fights back smartly.

 

LMD:  Your career is fascinating: You hadnít intended at all to become an actor, or singer, or any kind of famous anything, yet here you are.  Are you pretty much settled on professional life in Taiwan, or are you interested or pursuing acting roles here in the US?

GH:  Iíve always been interested.  After landing my first steps in the entertainment business, I was always like, my first language is English, and if I can use that to my advantage, I would actually try to land a role over here.  Iíve been trying, and so far, I guess itís lost in translation, I dunno. 

Iím based in Asia right now, so if I were to land a role over here, in my point of view, I would have to move back here.  There are collaborations with Asia and America, where there are Asian films being filmed in America.  I havenít had that chance to be a part of that kind of role.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

June 30th, 2019

 

Click Here for our Exclusive Interview with HAN DAN Director Huang Chao-liang.

 

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