Rookie Actor Xu Kai Breaks Out with “Story of Yanxi Palace”

23-year-old model Xu Kai (许凯) had steady but uninteresting modeling jobs before landing the role of Fuheng in Story of Yanxi Palace <延禧攻略>. He was 18 years old when he won first place in the billboard segment for the International Male Model Competition. It wasn’t until he signed with Yu Zheng’s (于正) Huanyu Entertainment when others saw his potential to be a TV star.

Wu Jinyan and Xu Kai

For a newcoming actor, Kai’s portrayal of the Emperor’s brother-in-law in Story of Yanxi Palace received enormously positive responses. His chemistry and relationship with Wei Yingluo (portrayed by Wu Jinyan 吴谨言) touched the hearts of audiences, and while Kai himself still has many things to learn about the craft of acting, it cannot be denied that his work as Fuheng had went beyond expectations. It was one of the few occasions where fans started to choose the art over the artist—when the show first started, negative reports surrounding Kai started to surface, which called him out for having a lavish lifestyle. When the show ended, these allegations were buried by reports of Kai’s successful performance.

Whether in story or in real life, Kai and Jinyan displayed a close connection. Rounding up shippers by the thousands, it’s gotten to the point that even producer Yu Zheng is considering to write a show tailor-made for Kai and Jinyan.

Only time will tell if Kai will continue to find more iconic roles like Fuheng, and be China’s next big idol star.


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. He is ta and girly handsome. I quite like his fu heng. Kinda decisive guy. Chemistry, I think she had more with the emperor. Anyway acting wise… You see the picture in this article? You see that face? That’s his face from EP 1 to where I am at, EP 40.i suspect same face until the end. He’s no fantastic actor. Can learn I hope.

    1. @funnlim
      That’s called character.
      A character has to be consistent.
      What type of character would you be playing if all of a sudden you’re a jolly stick, the next time we see you are in depression, then you became a gangster, president, beggar, etc…..Unless you’re the main character and the audience can track all the things happen to you and reason them out. In this case, he’s still very much more a side character. He pops in and pops out at times, he’s got to be consistent with “who” he is playing as.

      1. @davy I think @funnlim was referring to his facial expressions (or lack, thereof) rather than his character.

        You can maintain a consistent character, while still being dynamic with your expressions. In fact, that’s one of the most essential components of good acting, IMO. Xu Kai fell flat in that he carried the same sullen face, whether he was feeling happy, sad, angry etc… there was no transition or variation; no depth or passion.

        That said, I didn’t feel compelled to fast forward any of his scenes, and considering he IS a rookie, there’s a lot of hope for improvement.

  2. Im probably the rare one who drop Story of Yanxi Palace because of the main character Wei Yingluo portrayed by Wu Jinyan. I love the rest of the cast, but it really annoys me how they wrote her character always talking recklessly and not being afraid of the royal family and concubines. Everyone is stupid except her!

    1. @jessehsuan you’re not the only one, I dropped it after episode 10 because I couldn’t stand the main character. She was already annoying from the first episode, always blabbering and gets away with everything she does. How is that possible in a palace? It’s unrealistic to me.

  3. If Yu Zheng is really going to pair them together again, please don’t forget to add Nie Yuan and Qin Lan in there again. She had pretty good chemistry with Nie Yuan both on screen and real life as well. Maybe she won’t get to be as smart in the next drama anymore, but hopefully she doesn’t get too dumb. Not that I don’t like dumb characters, but most actresses have big problems in pretending to be weaklings.

    Ying Luo is one of the smartest characters in C-drama world. It is very satisfying to see how she revenges instead of letting people off for no reason, just to let them do bad things again. Really, letting bad guys go mean you are worse than the bad guys! And I don’t like to watch those who zips their mouth when they can be a help to tell the truth, that’s why I like Ying Luo. I know the reality of life, people never have courage like that, they only have courage to speak ill of others but when it comes to speak the truth, they’re not just cowards but inhumane. So, Ying Luo is of course very special, a 1 out of 1000 people so she won’t be like others. Doesn’t mean she is unrealistic, she’s just extraordinary, meaning, she’s not ordinary.

    Besides Xu Kai, even other people like Ming Yu, her fiancee and Yuan Chunwang stood out very much too. It is a very good show indeed.

    1. @davy I actually thought Wu Jinyan had more chemistry with Nie Yuan than Xu Kai…I didn’t know much about her character historically, but I stayed with the show because I liked Ying Luo’s slowly developing romance with the emperor Qianlong. They worked really well together; I think I would rather see a show staring Wu Jinyan and Nie Yuan as a couple again rather than her and Xu Kai.

      1. @dalebaines I completely agree! Wu Jinyan definitely had more chemistry with Nie Yuan as the emperor than she did with Xu Kai….I actually found it refreshing the way the relationship between Emperor Qianlong and Wei Yingluo played out in the series and how their relationship wasn’t a conventional one…watching the two of them interact, it was quite enjoyable and — dare I say it — fun, yet still serious where it needed to be…such a contrast to the super melodramatic / depressing / boring way those types of relationships are usually portrayed in most other palace series.

        As for Xu Kai — he was decent as Fuheng but acting-wise, mostly expressionless and stiff….If we’re talking about younger actors in the series, I prefer Lawrence Wong (the actor who played Hailancha) over Xu Kai, as Lawrence had more depth in terms of expressions and didn’t come across as one-note….also loved his storyline with Mingyu (the actress who portrayed her did an excellent job as well).

        In terms of the acting, definitely Qin Lan as Empress Fucha and Nie Yuan as the Emperor were the most natural…enjoyed both of their portrayals tremendously! Wu Jinyan was pretty good too (especially for a semi-newbie playing such a tremendous role), but less natural in my opinion…her acting in some scenes was too exaggerated and the way she said her dialogue at times , the pacing felt off (not a flawless performance by any means but overall she did well). Charmaine did well too (definitely one of her better performances to date — referring to her performance in the second half mostly — and pretty much blows everything she did at TVB out of the water), though I don’t think her performance stood out much considering there were so many fine performances among the actresses who played the various Consorts (most of whom did really well with the exception of a few)…

      2. @llwy12 Agree, he had the same bland expression throughout the entire series. Definitely one of the weakest links amongst the cast. Acting-wise, Lawrence outshone him in nearly every aspect… I wish their roles had been reversed.

        I’m also of the opinion that Wu Jinyan and the emperor had much more chemistry; partly due to the writing, and partly due to Nie Yuan’s ability to emote.

      3. @llwy12
        hi. you do know that wei ying luo’s voice is dubbed right? the same with many other characters including Empress Fuca. It’s commonly done in many chinese historical dramas (e.g Zhen Huan) as many young people now doesn’t speak proper chinese like in the past

  4. Lavish lifestyle, not so much. They’re labeling him as girlfriend beater.

    Good looking, but expressionless actor.

    1. @sehseh
      “girlfriend beater” will be a really big turn off and there goes his career when it was just about to rise or begin.
      If, that rumor is true.

  5. Xu Kai as Fuheng is cute, but so bland.

    Hong Yao on the other hand really moved me with his acting and I think he is very underrated. I’m hoping to see him act with Charmaine again.

    1. @june He played his character well and made it interesting. The only unrealistic part I would complain about this show overall was that this guy wasn’t too revengeful towards Ying Luo as he should be. I believe the director did that because of time limits. I’d imagined he was supposed to find every opportunity to kill her, and be in the show more often.

      Er Qing was good, she has the looks of a calm and mature woman and was really convincing as a nice and innocent lady. When she turned evil it was really shocking and she handled her evil acting really well too.

      Charmaine did well on her evil part but was a bit unconvincing and overdone at the beginning on trying to act nice.

    2. @june agree. Well he does have that expressionless aura about him, and his face can become a blank, like the model catwalk stare. There is potential to grow as an actor. What I’ve learn is pretty boys with annoying boy and girl fans will get role , after role with little to no improvement in their acting. The reason is because they are there to bring in the besotted girl and boy fans. There are pretty boys and girls making mad money, but they have almost zero talent as actors and singers. Lets hope Xu Kai can add talent to his face and body.

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