Zhang Ziyi Criticized for Lacking “Youthful” Feel

Viewers are unconvinced about her portrayal of a 15-year-old in new drama “Monarch Industry”.

Monarch Industry <上陽賦>, the first costume drama which Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) filmed three years ago, finally premiered on January 9. The supporting cast consisting of Zhou Yiwei (周一圍), Yu Hewei (于和偉), Kara Hui (惠英紅) and other veterans undoubtedly pushed up anticipation for the drama. In less than a day, Monarch Industry climbed in search rankings with the most discussed topic being Zhang Ziyi’s “youthfulness”.

Portraying a 15-Year-Old

The script required Ziyi to portray her character Wang Xuan’s (王儇) growth from her adolescent years, starting from the appearance of her 15-year-old self in the first episode. Some viewers criticized Ziyi for her portrayal of a pubescent teenager at her age, saying it was visually incongruent, as she could not pass off convincingly as a young girl despite her best attempts.

However, there are also viewers who felt that the actress did a good job showcasing the naivete of a young girl, and that there was no need to harp on the superficial aspect of “youthfulness,” since the character’s inner turmoil and body language can also help the portrayal.

Ziyi Slammed Again for Defensive Tone

Responding to the feedback on social media, Ziyi wrote, “The production team and platform of Monarch Industry should stop exploiting me to market ‘youthfulness’”! Elaborating that she was 38 when she filmed the series and will soon turn 42 next month, Ziyi is well-aware she is far from the age of a “foolish young girl.” In fact, she knew when she received the script that she would have to portray her character’s growth arc and development, and that viewers need an unclouded judgment to understand and get to know Wang Xuan. While it is part of her scope to portray her character, “other forms of marketing” should be avoided.

Netizens responded negatively to Ziyi’s defense, leaving comments such as, “Dare to take on the role, but don’t dare to be discussed” and “speechless–isn’t being an actor about getting viewers’ feedback; how is it that you take it as being exploited?”

Some viewers also pointed out the irony of Ziyi seemingly hyping up the drama surrounding the issue for publicity, as she was found to be a shareholder in Big Eye Group, one of the firms that invested in the drama.

Actresses Who Have Been Similarly Critiqued

Not a novel matter, viewers have long taken affront with actresses in their thirties and forties portraying young girls. Zhou Xun (周迅), Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), Tiffany Tang (唐嫣) and Carina Lau (嘉玲) also took brickbats for not being youthful enough for their onscreen roles.

Source: TW Great Daily

This article is written by JoyceK for JayneStars.com.

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    1. @anon
      how is this negative to mainland? i bet you show this this anyone else rest of the world, she would hardly pass for younger than 35…

  1. Older actresses are cast for younger roles due to their acting prowess, not necessarily if they look like little girls. Viewers are shallow if they think otherwise. They can go look for idol dramas with pretty young girls. For a sophisticated, period drama like this, Directors want more experience actors to carry the series, regardless if they do look older.

    I watched the first 2 episodes and it ain’t that bad. Sure, she doesn’t look the youngest but its the development of the storyline that matters.

    1. @sol365 Of course age matters in the progression of the story. Having an old person clearly not looking 15 depicting the role will detract from the whole experience. Not everyone views series expecting Oscar performances, they just want to be entertained.

    2. @sol365 The issue is that people in china are bassing her because of her comments in the variety show I am and actor 3. There she bassed Peter Sheng for taking a role that is unsuitable for him. This comment is still okay, but then she harshly asked him whether he is acting for a livelihood and why he have to accept every script. But coming from her seems a bit off, because she hasn’t experienced any hardship. The moment she got from uni, she was cast a female lead in zhang yimou movie and got famous. So, the people are saying that she doesn’t know what struggling actors feel and that they don’t have the choice to reject script like she has.
      And then, she als asked if he thinks being an actor has such a low treshold that everyone without talent can enter. Why does everyone now become an actor to get a share?
      She also bassed Qing Sha ( singer) for staying at singing and that acting needs talent. However, Qing Sha had two drama before and her acting was okay.
      So, the netizens are using her own words against her now asking her why she is taking a role not suitable for her and whether she is doing it for livelihood

      1. @dreamer Girlfriend got lucky. She didn’t have to struggle one bit, and I absolutely love how she got called on it!

        I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t hire tong yao instead. I get their popularity is not on par but their resemblance is uncanny. She’s a well established actress and though older, much younger than Ziyi

      2. @dreamer Zhang Ziyi is know for being objective and outspoken. I wouldn’t be surprised just like she openly praised Zhou Yi Wei’s performance on the show and declared that he’s one among top three actors (Liu Ye, Zhou Yi Wei and the other one I forgot the name) that she would like collaborate with. Here’s he is as male lead of her 1st tv series.

      3. @nori I am on episode 14 as well and boy do I love the main lead! I think I like him more than her. Nonetheless, they’re doing fantastic jobs portraying their character and the pacing is spot on.

  2. I’m on ep.14 now. Zhang Ziyi is indeed a high quality actress with acting power. I wouldn’t mind her portraying Wang Xuan given in the novel Wang Xuan is a strong female character who helps her husband, Xiao Qi (played by Zhou Yi Wei) on his way to the throne. I can’t imagine if the role is given to some young actress with no acting skill except being young and pretty. Also, Zhang Ziyi is pretty too. So far, I like this drama. Netizens need to chill out and enjoy the drama. It’s Zhang Ziyi’s first tv drama. Who knows when she will do it again.

  3. she looks nothing of a 15yo girl. i recall watching the film “king kong” the actress was in her 40s or late 30s but she looked so youthful like in her 20s.
    maybe if care about the looks so much why couldn’t they just cg those scenes until the actresses look more like their part?

  4. This can be easily solved with CGI or hire younger actress. But I guess all the money is on high salaries.

  5. Maybe instead of having an old actress playing a 15 years old…they should hire someone that’s actually in their teens??
    Anyways, she looks pretty in the drama! So far it s good!

  6. I still think they should use younger actors to play the younger people roles – it’s very odd to have people in their mid 30 & up acting like very young teenagers.

  7. I think the series is pretty good,

    Got a fairly decent cast, and production values pretty good..

    Zhang Zi Yi 1st TV drama is worth a look..

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