Director's Blog
Geng Le: The most handsome, intelligent actor you’ve never heard of
April 23rd, 2012

Here in the US, the only Chinese actors most of us can name off the tops of our heads are Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and maybe Andy Lau.  But there’s another guy you should know, because he’s a rising star in China and one of the most handsome, intelligent actors I’ve ever met: GENG LE.

In SHANGHAI CALLING, Geng Le plays a Shanghai journalist called upon to help Sam (DANIEL HENNEY).  This was a key role, so we needed to cast a well-known actor who was completely bilingual and, most importantly, unafraid to play a character I wrote as being “nondescript, someone you would never notice in a crowd.”

Geng Le is anything but nondescript.  Just look at him:

ZOMG he’s so handsome!

The truth is, Geng Le almost always gets cast in movies as a dashing, single man.  He also does a lot of print work as a model.

Now here is how Geng Le decided to look in our movie:

He’s practically in disguise.  It takes a lot of confidence for an actor known for his good looks to intentionally obscure those looks for a movie role.  The best part: everything about Geng Le’s appearance in SHANGHAI CALLING — from the haircut to the glasses to that pen and notepad in his shirt pocket — was his idea.

But the biggest contribution that Geng Le made to the movie was one that nobody will ever see.  I did at least twenty rewrites on SHANGHAI CALLING, largely to satisfy the notes of our Chinese partners.  Early on, the biggest problem the Chinese had was with the journalist character.  They just didn’t get him, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why.  Geng Le had problems with him, too — so he met me at a Beijing café, where we spent two hours discussing the role and the fundamental differences between Chinese and American movie heroes.  That conversation led me to completely overhaul every scene involving the journalist character… which, in turn, led to securing our co-production partner and getting the movie made.


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