Hu Ge (胡歌) is now known to be one of Mainland China’s highest-paid TV actors, but it hasn’t always been like that.
The 35-year-old, who debuted his first major television appearance in 2004, had a tumultuous life, much like his own character in his new drama, Game of Hunting <猎场>. Hu Ge rose to fame after starring in the 2005 fantasy drama Chinese Paladin <仙剑奇侠传>, but his career was nearly cut short in 2006, after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident en route to film The Legend of the Condor Heroes <射雕英雄传>. Hu Ge went through a long recovery, which impacted the progress of production. The Legend of the Condor Heroes was not released until 2008.
In 2015, Hu Ge starred in Nirvana in Fire <琅琊榜>, the show that went on to become a cultural phenomenon in China. Sources say Hu Ge was originally paid 840,000 RMB per episode for Nirvana in Fire, but his worth went up to 7 million RMB per episode by the time he shot Game of Hunting, an 83 percent increase.
His dramas that followed Nirvana in Fire—including The Diguiser <伪装者> and Good Times <大好时光>–were also well-received, bringing Hu Ge to become the highest-rated star in the nation. Within a year, Hu Ge accepted over 30 endorsement offers and was the most exposed celebrity of the year, bringing in a salary of at least 200 million RMB. Last year, Hu Ge landed on the top spot in the Top 100 Most Valuable Celebrities Chart, defeating long-standing celebrities such as Sun Li (孙俪) and Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).
Even Hu Ge was taken aback at how many commercials he has done in a year. “I’ve never done so much at once. In a way I was kind of trying to prove my own commercial worth. There used to be a rumor within the fashion circle that I had to rent my outfits, which did hurt my ego a bit. I’ve also heard people saying about how I was never covered by big magazines, and those words were uncomfortable to hear. That is why I want everyone to take a look at me now, that I’ve also made it.”
Hu Ge’s wealth goes beyond his multi-million endorsements. The actor invested 5 million RMB with a friend on a high-end restaurant in Shanghai, and holds 50.19 percent of the Shanghai production company, Yili. He has also purchased property in Beijing, Chongqing, and Shanghai, becoming the industry’s own “quiet millionaire.”
However, Hu Ge’s popularity and fame have taken a toll on his health. He turned down Nirvana in Fire 2 <琅琊榜之风起长林> to take a break. After filming Game of Hunting, he announced that he would take two years off to study in the United States. “My job takes up too much of my life,” he said. “I haven’t had the time to quietly think. I also believe that Game of Hunting has the best script I’ve ever read, and I’ve tried my best in it. It’ll be hard to find another role that exceeds it.”
After staying in the United States for two months, Hu Ge returned to China to promote Game of Hunting. He pointed out that his decision to study in America was a failure of his stubbornness: “Now that I’m back I can let out a sigh of relief. I couldn’t handle the two months I was in America. I was making excuses for myself. I admit that I carry the burden of an idol. Maybe it’s because I’m still not mature enough.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.