Zanilia Zhao Stunt Double Becomes an Actress

Earlier this month, a report claimed that Zanilia Zhao Liying (赵丽颖) had about 32 body doubles when she shot last year’s hit series, Princess Agents <楚乔传>, including horse-riding doubles, action stunt doubles, and even doubles for scenes where Zanilia had to kneel. The actress’s agency was quick to deny the reports—while a few body doubles were hired for Zanilia, the reported 32 was a bit too far-fetched.

While using a body double for simple drama scenes seems ridiculous, it is true that Zanilia had used a body double for some of her talking scenes in 2015’s The Journey of Flower <花千骨>. In scenes where Zanilia’s face did not have to be on camera, her body double Li Ke (李可) stood in for her. Li Ke does physically resemble Zanilia, to the point where the two could be mistaken as sisters.

The 26-year-old Li Ke holds a degree in film directing from Yunnan Arts University. After subbing in for Zanilia in The Journey of Flower, Li Ke has managed to find more acting opportunities for herself, having been cast in dramas such as 2016’s Demon Girl <半妖倾城> and Hot Girl 2 <麻辣变形计>. The future isn’t looking bad for this former stunt double!

Sources: (12)

This article is written by Addy for

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  1. I was very surprised she was a stunt when she could have been a main leading actress. She has really good looks and skillful at stunts. That’s a bonus she even has a degree too.

    LOL That’s ridiculous Zhao Liying got stunts to kneel for her, but quite sure that’s not 32 stunts, might just be a few.

  2. So what’s the point of hiring an actress when she doesn’t even do most of thing, or even anything in this case herself? Lol. Ridiculous. But it creates more job so that’s good I guess lol.

    1. @jjwong same what’s the point of her being female lead, also I guess that’s probs why she’s usually not in a season 2 since she’s never there apparently

  3. Wow such dedication where she can’t even be there(kneeling,standing, and talk?) it ain’t even that hard most actresses kneel themselves.

  4. If you guys don’t know the story, these doubles are usually to save on costs since sometimes the main artistes may be away on another set to do some other scenes of filming. With everyone’s tight schedules and filming several projects at the same time, it is very hard to get everyone in the same scene, especially when testing lighting or standing positions and also for reshoots past the set filming schedule if the initial cut did not look good enough.

    It has got nothing to do with an artist’s dedication or professionalism but to do with the efficiency of the production team.

    Zanilla was out filming the slave shooting scene in the desert so she needed a double to stand in for her for some scenes while she was gone.

    And the guys didn’t even make it to the desert cos they were filming something else so the background was all pasted on afterwards for the guys horseriding and shooting. It had nothing to with Zanilla feeling precious or not.

    And she had an ongoing back and knee injury from “The Legend of Lu Zhen” as well (because from the jumping off the wall scene and the wires got crossed and she was dropped). So if she wants a stunt double for horse riding scenes and action scenes to protect her health and back, so be it. One of the scenes with the stunt for kneeling was the scene where the princess had to step on Zhu Qiao’s back to dismount from her carriage. The production team had already explained on weibo this when the stunt double was picked up by the audience a few eps into airing.

    I don’t get the criticism from you guys. If a normal person can refuse a part of a job that is dangerous to their health due to OH&S concerns, I don’t understand why artistes are expected to put up with it and put themselves at risk.

    1. @elizabeth
      I totally agree actors need stunts for dangerous scenes!!! The stunts are very skilled and won’t likely get hurt. It’s almost hard to describe that she got injured from Legend of Luzhen when that was not even a fighting character. If the scene is dangerous, it has nothing to do with dedication but safety. We care about the stunt’s safety as well, it’s not as if they’re less important and it’s ok if it was only them who ended up injured, it’s just they are just skilled in what they’re doing so hand over the scene to them.

      But, ahem…kneeling though? I would argue that’s not really dangerous. The picture I saw was not the one the princess stepping on her but I think we are referring to the one at the dessert with a bunch of soldiers. I actually think the most ridiculous picture was the one with a lady massaging LGX, I just don’t get how that can be time saving you know…somebody else have to dress up entirely like you and do the massaging or kneeling scene for 5 seconds only. We’re pretty sure the actor is absolutely on set at the same time/place as well…otherwise, does that mean everybody else have to shoot the same scene 2-3 times, dress in the same thing again, and also decorate the place the same way again to shoot the scene with the real actor there for the 2nd time? Because they were continuous scenes, after the stunts did their part for 2 seconds, the scene still continue in that same setting. So it’s interesting to use stunts for time saving concepts. But I blame the directors though, they don’t know the actors faces need to look dirty and bloody after a big fight, at most all actors get is a small tiny scratch on their faces only…directors focus too much on making sure the actors look pretty/handsome. I think that must be the reason why they are using stunts for some weird scenes that turns out to look unnecessary.

      But another thing I kind of wished that happen, I wish there were more professional stunts to do some fast fighting scenes instead, and it doesn’t really matter all that much if we noticed them. Just like ROCH 06, there are a couple times we see stunts for LYF. But it was good and understanding because they were fighting so fast with amazing jumps, although LYF is so skillful, there are still some movements stunts are better at and they should do them.
      I don’t quite agree with unskilled actors doing way too much of the fighting scenes because, all we get then is really really slow motion fighting that are not engaging. It is either, we see stunts or slow motion, and I have a preference to see the stunts instead because slow motion is just ridiculous, anybody can do that. When the stunts are so far away and fast moving, we almost don’t see them and are not bothered by the fact they are stunts.

  5. It so happened that I listened to a talkshow in youtube talking about this matter yesterday. It seems the focus on this stun double issue started from a weibo post by actor-cum-special effect makeup artist Andrew Lin. He lamented in his post that there is a trend in China now where certain popular actors refused to do simple stunts (like kneeling) and will only do parts where he/she need to show his/her face. So, those wide shots scenes are often done by stun doubles wearing face mask. Now, his most lucrative business is making face mask of these actors for stun doubles to use. He said that although he gain from this trend, he is still sad that actors become so unprofessional.

    It’s not just about cutting cost, but, also about actors showing their importance.

    Here’s the youtube show. It’s in Cantonese. So, people who understand Cantonese can go have a listen.

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