Huang Jue in The Wheat. [Global Times]
Popular TV star and Chinese mainland celebrity, known for his good looks and relationship with actress and director Xu Jinglei ("Letter from an Unknown Woman"), has stepped out of his comfort zone to reveal his true colors in "The Wheat."
Huang was not director He Ping's ("The Swordsman in Double Flag Town") first choice for the role of Xia, but upon completion of filming He said that he was more than pleased with Huang's performance. "'The Wheat' is likely to be a milestone in Huang's acting career," he said.
"I was not aware then (when casting) that Huang could play such a difficult role, misguided by his appearance and former performance," He added.
Beginning his acting career at 28, Huang has starred in six films and 16 TV series in seven years and is considered an "artistic actor" rather than a commercial star. Previous roles in art-house films "Baober in Love" (directed by Li Shaohong) and "Everlasting Regret"(directed by Stanley Kwan), won him recognition for his good looks, but it was not until this year's TV drama Love in a "Fallen City" did Huang begin to attract a solid fan base.
The Wheat premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival in June with Huang's performance attracting critical acclaim, it will open in Chinese cinema's today.
With the Changping War between the Qin and Zhao in the Warring States period (475-222 BC), "The Wheat" tells the story of two Qin soldiers fleeing from war and taking refuge in the small town of Zhao, where all of the adult men of the village have gone to war. To survive, the fugitives change their identities into Zhao soldiers who had won the battle against Qin.
Huang plays the part of fugitive Xia, who has been fighting on the battlefield since age 13. "This is very different part from my previous ones," Huang told the Global Times.
Huang is often cast in rich, upper class roles, while Xia is more of a farmer than a soldier. "To Xia, the harvest is more important than anything, victory of wars included. So he runs away when the wheat is ready."
Huang said that the "alternative" character was very interesting for him. "I enjoyed the script when I first read it," Huang said. He explained that most Chinese epic films focus on heroes and kings, while The Wheat set its sights on ordinary people, which "could be an innovation in China's film history."