Xia Yu was born in Qingdao, Shandong Province in 1976 and was first discovered by director Jiang Wen 18 years later.
His performance In the Heat of the Sun (1994) rocketed him to international stardom after he won the Venice Film Festival Best Actor award. He became the youngest actor in the festival's history to win the award, and he went on to win Best Actor awards at the Singapore International Film Festival and Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards.
The Law of Romance (2003) won him a Golden Rooster Award and Waiting Alone (2005) earned him Best Actor at the 12th Chinese Student Film Festival Awards.
In 1995, Xia was accepted into the Central Academy of Drama. After completing his studies, he remained an active force in Chinese cinema as well as television. He may not be the most prolific of actors, but every one of his films has been a box office winner.
'I am very certain about what I do or say': An Interview to Xia Yu
China Daily (CD): Do you and your character Han Dong have anything in common?
Xia Yu (Xia): Briefly speaking, Han is a hesitant man. I am a totally different person. I would not spend a long time making a decision. Usually I am very certain about what I do or say.
CD: Acting in a play is very different from a movie or TV. What is the major difference? You have also mostly worked in movies and TV since you graduated from the Central Academy of Drama in 1999. Now you are collaborating with Meng Jinghui who is known for his experimental style in theater. This is a challenging move for you.
Xia: Meng says I am a very rational actor. I think it has something to do with my experience in movies. When shooting a movie, we do not act from the first scene to the last, so before I start a film, I should read the role pretty well and naturally act the role as one person in different scenes.
It's totally not the case in theater. In theater, today's acting would be very different from yesterday, especially working with director Meng who has different ideas on the roles, the story every day.
Most actors in the play have worked with him so they are familiar with his style and adapt to his approach easily. They are at ease, like playing a game. But for me, it is the first time and a big challenge. I did not do well in the first few days but gradually I got used to it. And I am confident about Meng's talent and experience and I believe I will give a wonderful performance under his direction.
CD: Why did you want to act in theater?
Xia: I did not think too much about "why"? I played in only three small theater works when I was in the Central Academy of Drama. I used to feel closer to movies than theater perhaps because the reason that I became an actor was I played In the Heat of the Sun and this brought me many awards when I was in high school.
In the last eight years I have played many movies and TV serial and feel somehow tired of TV serials. I feel the way that I work in a TV serial has limited my imagination and creation. It seems you have played a game for too long time and looking forward to a new one. But it does not mean I would not play TV serial any longer and also I want to say I still love to play movie most.
To me, the theater acting is a fresh experience and a challenge and I believe it will benefit me a lot in my future career. Director Meng is the major reason I agreed to this work. The first play I watched was Meng's The Balcony and I watched it four times. I was impressed and wished I could work with Meng one day.
(China Daily April 4, 2007)