Chinese BL drama Word of Honor <山河令> is currently leading the hottest discussions online for its unexpected next-level performances and thrilling chemistry between leads Zhang Zhehan (张哲瀚) and Gong Jun (龚俊). With initially no anticipations on its low-budget production, the sudden blow up came to many as a surprise. Though what was even more astonishing was that Zhehan and Gong Jun were actually not the original casting choices. As the two were largely praised for their performances, it became hard to imagine that their characters could have belonged to another.
Word of Honor had even shockingly surpassed the highly popular The Untamed <陈情令> with a Douban rating of 8.6. Known for its strictness, it is usually difficult to attain a rating of 8 points or more. Yet, Word of Honor managed to do so with ratings higher than The Untamed. The latter had earned a rating of 4.9 when it first aired, and eventually climbed up to its current rating of 7.7. While The Untamed did pave the path for more BL dramas, Word of Honor also did not earn love easily with its zero promotions and quiet premiere.
It is well agreed upon that the series was able to reach such heights largely because of Zhehan and Gong Jun’s detailed performances. In the same way as Xiao Zhan (肖战) and Wang Yibo (王一博), their unbeatable chemistry had earned them a mass of fans.
This could have been an entirely different story because Zhehan’s character Zhou Zishu was originally supposed to be played by Mao Zijun (茅子俊), and Gong Jun’s character Wen Kexing was to be played by Li Daikun (李岱昆). However, Zijun ended up losing the chance to star in Word of Honor because the filming was delayed due to the pandemic last year. As pay was already low during this time, Zijun chose to film other projects first. When the series finally started rolling, the actor was no longer available due to schedule clashes.
As for Daikun, he did not think he suited playing Kexing, so he gave up the lead role to play supporting character Prince Xie. Although this character is uniquely charismatic, it is still incomparable to the popularity of Kexing.
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.