THIS THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE “Ji Xiao Bing: Honorable Imperial Cat’s Unexpected Popularity”, GO HERE FOR THE VIETNAMESE TRANSLATION. / ĐÂY LÀ BẢN DỊCH TIẾNG ANH CỦA BÀI PHỎNG VẤN ĐẶC BIỆT, NẾU MUỐN ĐỌC BẢN TIẾNG VIỆT THÌ HÃY NHẤN VÀO ĐÂY.
Article Title: Exclusive Interview – Ji Xiao Bing: Honorable Imperial Cat’s Unexpected Popularity
In regards to view counts, surrounded by costume dramas that were airing during the summer vacation period, this figure, perhaps, could be referred to as “negligible.” Yet within two months, a web series having “zero publicity”, depended on their solid quality, gained praises from the public as being a “conscience drama.”
Yet this type of “word of mouth” favorable criticism was mostly due to the outstanding performances of the two male leads.
Among which were the “original” fans who admitted that “the character that was closest to the novel” was Ji Xiao Bing’s role, Doctor of Psychology, Zhan Yao.
As a result, in the past two months, the actor Ji Xiao Bing’s popularity rose suddenly and sharply.
Countless of “SCI girls” who have been following the drama daily and cheering it on are known as “Cat Addicts.” Yet afterward, there were a lot of them entering the pit, which the majority were nicknamed, “Ice Cream.” [Translator’s Note: This is a pun on Ji Xiao Bing’s name because they’re using the word “ice (冰)” to connect his name to “ice cream (冰淇淋).”]
So, in the past two months, to Ji Xiao Bing–who had entered the industry eight years ago, it had consisted of a lot of surprises and changes.
After the airing of SCI ended, Ji Xiao Bing accepted an exclusive interview from a journalist of the Qingjiang Evening News. Being popular and not being popular, perseverance and transformation, fight thoughts and the future, let’s listen to “Zhao Miao”, himself, to see what he has to say.
The Male Lead That The Director “Collected”, “Zhan Yao and I are very similar”
Director Shi Lei, upon Ji Xiao Bing’s accepting the exclusive interview, had nothing but words of praise for him.
All in all, Ji Xiao Bing was the most suitable candidate after having narrowed down among several hundreds of actors and having looked at several thousands of actor’s profiles. He was also the last actor to be chosen within the production.
“The director’s praise was quite good.” In regards to the director’s high praises, Ji Xiao Bing’s response was quite modest. However, he was also quite grateful to the director’s “good eyes”: “In fact, I think that the director’s vision is quite unique. I also feel that this role is similar to me.” (smile/laugh)
And yet reality proved that, regardless of the director’s insight or Ji Xiao Bing’s self-recognition, all are very accurate.
Ultimately, the “Zhao Yao” appearing in front of everyone currently was that of refined, calm, wise and farsighted, along with the interactions with Bai Yu Tong, which were very natural–with traces of arrogant and cuteness. And so, all of these were very accurate to the original characters, lively and still reserved the “essence of the original.”
SCI was Ji Xiao Bing’s first leading role in a TV series. He took into account everyone’s recognition, owing to his similar personalities with Zhan Yao, along with the director’s guidance.
The reason was that he had to jumped right into filming although he hadn’t finished reading the script. Yet he wasn’t afraid of not being able to effectively portray the role.
Yet talking about worry, he still had some. “Because he had a lot of cases to analyze, confrontation scenes with criminals, and required of quick thinking nature. There were scenes where he had a lot of lines to deliver. The workload was huge. Those moments were quite worrisome. He wanted to do his best to deliver those lines, and to act even better.”
This was Ji Xiao Bing’s first time acting in a role possessing such a high IQ. So much so that this role “departed from normal people’s category”: “Actually, from the start, it was a little hard for me to adapt.”
About two weeks after the start of filming, the majority of the scenes consisted of analyzing the cases at the police department.
“At that time, I thought my performance would be even better if I had included more details.” As a result, he added in a little more motions and emotions, in order to achieve the character Zhan Yao, Hong Kong’s best psychological doctor, always calm, possessing wisdom and farsightedness.
There was one time that Zhan Yao had to stand on a lift for a scene, confronting a murderer. That scene was the one that left the deepest impression on everyone, Zhan Yao’s “aura fully revealed” scene, even the behind-the-scenes showed the enthusiastic discussions.
That “high energy”, confrontation scene–both intense and brilliant, also took Ji Xiao Bing the longest time to prepare for it (comparing to all the scenes in the series), leaving a deep impression on him.
The day before filming, he used the whole day to recite the script, considering how to act out that part.
Acting Is Enjoyment, Always “Dissatisfied” With Self
Not finishing with its airing, SCI has brought upon popularity and influence, surpassing by far Ji Xiao Bing’s own expectations.
What was even more “unexpected” were the tens of thousands of additional “Ice Cream” on a daily basis. They regretted not knowing Ji Xiao Bing earlier. Generally, these were the feelings of the new fans because of SCI.
The one who just started to “investigate” felt that Ji Xiao Bing is just like a “hidden treasure kind of guy.”
Knowing (about) Ji Xiao Bing isn’t difficult. Born in Jiangsu, compared to acting, he actually preferred calligraphy, drawing, playing musical instruments–these types of arts. “I would use a small musical calculator to play a simple nursery rhyme.”
When he was little, his dreams and goals were to acquire high achievements in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Now thinking back, one has to thank Ji Xiao Bing’s mother, who has a passion for entertainment arts. She felt that her son possessed artistic abilities hence guiding him into studying acting.
Ji Xiao Bing graduated from Beijing Film Academy (北京电影学院) in 2005 with an undergraduate degree in acting. His classmates included Yang Mi, Yuan Shan Shan, Jiao Jun Yan, etc.
In 2010, Ji Xiao Bing officially entered the industry when he acted in the TV series Family Reunion (团圆). Because of his handsome image in Legend of Goddess Luo (新洛神), The Investiture of the Gods (封神英雄榜), and other ancient series, he was dubbed as “Handsome Man of Ancient Series.”
Joined the industry eight years ago, acted in more than twenty TV series and movies, not all were high yielding dramas. Yet the dramas that allowed us to be more familiar with Ji Xiao Bing were from the past year.
In the April 2017 web series The Fox’s Summer (狐狸的夏天), Ji Xiao Bing portrayed the personal assistant of the chairperson, Gao Yang.
His style was very gaudy, which brought upon a “hilarious” appearance of a middle school youth, which was a major contrast from Ji Xiao Bing himself. Yet he depended on his solid acting, brilliantly bringing out the character’s joyful persona.
April 2018, Here To Heart (温暖的弦) aired, allowing more people to pay attention to one of the most handsome men of Shallow Cosmos (浅宇), who was dashingly handsome, having high IQ and EQ like “Xiao Gao Zong” Gao Fang.
These past eight years, Ji Xiao Bing had used all to focus on “acting.” Speaking of acting, it seemed like he couldn’t stop talking about it, something that is possible to share with everyone.
He told the journalist that SCI was the drama that he had the littlest time for preparation, was the most nervous during the filming process: “Because I’m the slowest person. I want to have more time (before filming) to do excellent homework.” (smile/laugh)
Despite the audience and the production team giving Ji Xiao Bing’s role “Zhan Yao” high marks, he still felt regret: “The audience’s encouragement was quite big. I, myself, feel that the performance was a pass (Translator’s Note: he meant a passing mark), just give it a 6. Actually, it could have been better.”
“Actually, after the majority of the filming was finished, I, myself, wasn’t satisfied with it.” Ji Xiao Bing’s self-expectations are severe, exceeding an average person’s imagination: “In the acting career, extremely few people are satisfied with themselves, very few.”
Perhaps, because of that feeling of “not being satisfied” that had allowed Ji Xiao Bing to preserve the initial feeling of being an actor from the start.
Adjusting Attitude After “Unexpected Popularity”, Vying For A Good Role
“Since when did you realize that Ji Xiao Bing has become famous?”
“This, I haven’t realized it at all. (smile/laugh) However, I’ve really received a little bit of attention, regardless of fans’ fondness toward me, or the acknowledgment from within the industry, all contained very good promotions. It could be said that it has opened up a new structure and phase.
Good actors and good scripts go hand in hand.
During filming, Ji Xiao Bing would focus wholeheartedly on bringing a good performance toward the role. Therefore, the popularity and influence he brought to SCI had undoubtedly exceeded his own expectations.
Facing all the favorable criticisms coming from all sides after the broadcasting (of the series), Ji Xiao Bing also felt unprecedented pressure.
Yet, this wasn’t Ji Xiao Bing’s first time of needing a “mentality adjustment.” Ji Xiao Bang disclosed to the journalist that the turning point of his career was in 2016.
To be more exact, since then, Ji Xiao Bing had a more solid plan for his future: “I hope that within my acting career, I could receive even more acknowledgment, that I could produce a role that is a little more satisfying to me.”
Actually, during the entire interview, the deepest impression that Ji Xiao Bing gave the journalist was his honesty.
While talking about past work experience, he acknowledged frankly: “There isn’t a wide margin when choosing a role (smile/laugh), or the state of which the role has chosen me.”
What he could do is to preserve the attitude of “rather having little than none at all”: “I would rather rest for half a year, and then go and accept a good role for a good drama.”
Yet now, the degree of his popularity and reputation has risen, causing the circumstances to change somewhat: “There are roles that I like somewhat, I still have to fight for it. Indeed, the odds of winning over the role is becoming bigger and bigger.”
Ji Xiao Bing’s honesty could also be seen through his interactions with fans. Having entered the industry for eight years already, achieving the “idol” status, however, Ji Xiao Bing is still considered a hundred percent “newbie.”
On July 6, Ji Xiao Bing and Gao Han Yu recorded the song “Learn to Meow” on the Douyin platform, achieving the series’ “official benefits” online. The first time filming “cute” acts that are not related to a drama, Ji Xiao Bing had more no good takes versus when filming for a drama.
On July 13, Ji Xiao Bing Studio’s official account formally launched online.
On July 15, Ji Xiao Bing’s Weibo following broke one million, starting to distribute member rewards.
However, these types of manipulation skills within the industry that would reap results, in regards to a person who is so absorbed with acting like Ji Xiao Bing, are all considered to be a new type of challenge.
In the past two months, a lot of fans ran to Ji Xiao Bing’s Weibo to “investigate”, browsing his past works.
After “investigating”, you should discover that it would be normal for the past Ji Xiao Bing to not send out a post in several months, and seldom take selfies to share.
Now, a lot of things happened thus causing changes.
After having a “deep self-reflection”, when having free time, Ji Xiao Bing would especially spend a little time to manage his Weibo account, interacting with fans: “The current me would supervise and urge myself on. Everyone should also supervise and urge me on.”
Yet popularity and the degree of following doesn’t change, in addition to his passion for acting as well as the honorable essence in his bones.
On July 24, Ji Xiao Bing had his first live-broadcasting.
Although it was to comply with fans’ zealous request, Ji Xiao Bing’s performance of “Learn To Meow” went smoothly. He also used a lot of time to study incoming mail from fans.
Upon learning the influence he had on fans, with them wanting to enroll in Beijing Film Academy, he straightforwardly shared with fans during his live-broadcast of his educational and acting experiences.
“Coming to see Young Master’s live-broadcast, didn’t expect to hear old cadre’s unforgettable life lessons.”
While the “Ice Cream Team” is digesting the “classroom notes”, at the studio and on Weibo, please do not spend money to buy gifts for Ji Xiao Bing, but should only use mail to interact with him.
“Currently, I only want to focus on working hard.”
Having been in the industry for eight years already, facing unprecedented changes, Ji Xiao Bing knows more than anyone that the acting road to his achievements is still long. Everything has just begun.
Q & A
Key: Q = Journalist | A = Ji Xiao Bing
Q: What scene of the drama left the deepest impression on you?
A: There was a scene where I was standing on a lift. At that time, I was climbing onto it, the director said it was too ugly. (smile/laugh) If the audience sees it, they will reject it. He then asked me if I could climb more gracefully than that. When I was little, I would frequently climb onto places, so the foundation is still there. Upon trying it one more time, all staff members nearby applauded and cheered me on. (smile/laugh) The result of the filming turned out quite well.
Q: Standing on the lift and confronting the murderer like that, were you nervous during the filming?
A: Actually, I was very nervous. First of all, this scene was very important. Secondly, I’m afraid of heights. (smile/laugh) At that moment, I was very scared. (smile/laugh) The lift was about three stories high. I felt a little shaky, from my right leg up to my knee. (smile/laugh) But when filming started, I felt a great sense of confidence coming out. We filmed until 6 am. We only needed one shot.
Q: Do you and Gao Han Yu have a bonding process?
A: There was no break-in period. [Translator’s Note: He meant they didn’t have any sort of process at first.] Since the first meeting, because we didn’t know each other, we didn’t really interact. The person who broke past the impasse was the director. (smile/laugh) The director is a very passionate person. He talked to us a lot. Afterward, during filming, our relationship became extremely good, extremely happy. After interacting with Xiao Bai (Gao Han Yu), I discovered that he’s very lively and amusing.
Q: Privately, how do you and Gao Han Yu address each other? After the series was broadcasted, what type of interactions were there?
A: I usually call him Lao Gao (Old Gao), Xiao Bai (Little White), Lao Bai (Old White), Han Yu. He started out calling me Lao Ji (Old Ji). Afterward, he changed it to Zhan Yao. Then when we were more familiar with one another, he called me Da Ye (Sir/Mister). Currently, he persistently calls me Da Ye. (smile/laugh) After the series finished broadcasting, we sympathized with it, especially reminiscing the filming process. During filming, we thought that there were many hardships. Now, thinking back, it was actually kind of sweet, full of happiness.
Q: That “famous blooper” where you didn’t catch Gao Han Yu, what was that about?
A: That blooper happened during the scene where I was in the woods, confronting Feng Jie. Although filming was very tiring, from the bloopers, it was obvious that everyone was having fun with the filming process.
At that time, the director wanted to film a slow-motion scene, wanting Gao Han Yu to collapse. At that moment, I was preparing to catch him, but heard the director yelled, “Cut!” I thought, “Oh, the act’s over.” I had an idea. (smile/laugh) I wanted to mess with Xiao Bai. (laughing loudly) Afterward, (realized that) the camera hadn’t stopped filming, so that part was recorded as well.
Q: Aside from Gao Han Yu, which of the antagonist actor had a deep impression on you?
A: Teacher Zhang Fan. When reading the script, there are a lot of expectations with this character, because Zhao Jue is a very impressive character. Teacher Zhang Fan’s manners, charisma, and linguistic skills are all very commendable. For the series, it’s very rejuvenating. If it’s possible to have rivalry scenes with him, one could learn a little more. It’s a shame that our rivalry scenes are so little. Each time, the impression is very deep.
Q: Did you watch the series?
A: I watched it all. I especially liked it. I also sent it to my friends. (smile/laugh) Recommended friends to watch the series. This is the first time that I recommended my own series. At first, I was just in a hurry to see my own performance, but after finished watching, I thought that every aspect of the series was really good. (smile/laugh)
Q: Have you read the comments yet? Which assessments left a deep impression on you?
A: At first, I was a little afraid of opening up comments to read. Afterward, I heard the assessments were not bad. (smile/laugh) Later, I opened up comments to read. The assessments that left the deepest impressions on me were: “Very cute”, “He has starry eyes”, “His acting gets better and better” (smile/laugh). After watching it, I was actually like the audience, turning into an obsessed fan. (laugh loudly)
Q: If there’s an opportunity, would you act in season 2?
A: (Answered within seconds) Priority, definitely priority. I whole-heartedly expected it, because this is an incomplete wish. Seeing how everyone wanted to watch it [Translator’s Note: he meant season 2], I actually also became passionate about it as well, wanting to complete this thing.
Q: What are your habits during filming?
A: Doing homework. Upon receiving the script, I would start walking, and then on the side, I would start practicing. I might walk in front of the mirror, just to take a look at myself. (smile/laugh) Whatever I needed to act, I acted it out in one take, and then I would keep pacing.
Q: Which features are you most satisfied with yourself? Having good looks, is that helping your work or does it hinder it?
A: It depends on the time. Currently, the mouth and eyes. I can’t really say why. Outer appearance is a double-edged sword. It’s both helping and hindering. My outer appearance gives someone a first impression that (smile/laugh) is like someone of scholarly essence. (Do you want to escape from that range?) Of course! Comparing to others, I’m considered a lot luckier. All these years, I was able to accept all types of roles already.
Q: Aside from TV series, you’ve acted in stage plays, are you still going to attempt it in the future?
A: To actors, stage plays are a good way to train. If there’s a chance, I would definitely want to train more.
Q: Aside from acting, what other types of endeavors do you have? For instance, regarding variety shows, what type of genre do you want to participate in the most?
A: I still want to put my focus on acting. I would still participate in variety shows, possibly, sometimes, according to the current work schedule. (What type of genre?) I’m not sure. I would comply with the arrangements. (smile/laugh) Because I watch so little of variety shows.
Q: There are a lot of new fans currently “scrutinizing” your past works on Weibo. Do you feel embarrassed by it?
A: I personally think that it’s very fascinating. (smile/laugh) Being able to see and compare my past young and inexperienced self, it’s easy to spot. Since they already see it, just let them have a look. (smile/laugh)
Q: During off time, what do you do?
A: Mainly watching movies. I would also use it to do drills that are related to acting. Sometimes, I would also play games, travel, or taking walks. I watched a lot of foreign films, also like a lot of directors and actors. For instance, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.
Q: Are there any other hidden characteristics that would like to divulge a little?
A: Hidden characteristics, hidden characteristics, hidden characteristics. (He repeated the words three times.) Of course, there are. (smile/laugh) In the future, you all can slowly excavate it. Let me reserve this little suspense. (smile/laugh)
Q: Have your family watched SCI? How was the assessment?
A: They have all seen it. They felt that there were both good and bad parts, and have discussed it with me. They’re especially happy for me. They felt that my performance was really great.
Q: After graduation, have you been staying in Beijing since then? Have you been communicating with your parents a lot?
A: I’ve been staying in Beijing this whole time, my parents are currently at Xuzhou. Before, I’m the type that only shares happy news, not sad news. When I’m in distressed, I’m unwilling to share with my parents, fearing that they would be worried or sad. In my adolescent years, I didn’t really communicate with them. Now, regardless of how good or bad it is at work, I would share it with them. At one time, one phone call could take up to two or three hours. They know me, help me, support me. When I was little, I was a little rebellious. Contrary to when I’m all grown up, I could finally feel the warmness of (having a) family.
*All translations were done by DTLCT, so if you decided to share elsewhere, please credit and link back to blog.