Yu Zheng Reveals Secrets Behind Launching A-List Actors

Screenwriter/producer Yu Zheng (于正) may not be known for his television dramas’ historical accuracy or airtight storylines, but it is undeniable that he has a knack for launching the careers of budding young actors. Well-known mainland Chinese actors like William Feng (馮紹峰), Chen Xiao (陳曉), and Zhao Liying (趙麗穎) all became household names after starring in Yu Zheng’s productions.

Even established actors reached new heights of popularity after collaborating with Yu Zheng. For example, Yang Mi (楊冪) boasted a substantial acting resume prior to 2011, but her career took off when she starred opposite William Feng in the time-traveling drama, Palace <宫>. Similarly, 38-year-old Lu Yi (陸毅), always a fan favorite, saw his popularity reignite with The Palace <宮鎖沉香> movie and currently airing series, Palace: The Lost Daughter <宮鎖連城>.

What then is Yu Zheng’s secret in deciding who will become the next hot celebrity? How does he decide who has the makings of a star?

1. Must Be Good-Looking

Anyone who has watched one of Yu Zheng’s dramas knows that the cast will be, at the very least, aesthetically pleasing. However, Yu Zheng shared in an interview that his standards for beauty are quite different from the norm.

“In my eyes, there weren’t any handsome men among the old version of F4,” he said. “Even Vic Chou (周渝民) barely counts [as handsome].”

For Yu Zheng, a man’s looks can be judged by his forehead – he dislikes using actors who look handsome only when their forehead is covered up by bangs. As for women, the most important quality is their demeanor.

2. Must Match the Role

Behind all of Yu Zheng’s casting decisions lies this secret: the audience is watching for the story. In his eyes, the popularity of the cast members is not that important, and viewers who become a fan of a particular actor are actually fans of the character portrayed by the actor.

As a result, Yu Zheng tries his best to ensure that his dramas’ characters are tailor-made for the actors portraying them. Unfortunately, his plans do not always work out: the lead female role for Palace II <宮鎖珠簾> was originally meant for Yang Mi but later went to Yuan Shanshan (袁姍姍), whom Yu Zheng felt was not particularly suited for the role.

3. Must Go Through Trial Session

Though it may seem like Yu Zheng plucks newbie actors out of obscurity, all of them have actually spent years playing supporting characters before being entrusted with a lead role. For instance, Yang Mi played a servant girl in Schemes of a Beauty <美人心計> before Yu Zheng granted her a breakout role in Palace. Likewise, Chen Xiao portrayed countless supporting characters before last year’s Female Prime Minister <陸貞傳奇>.

“If you want to play the lead, then you must first act in supporting roles so I can fully understand you,” Yu Zheng explained. By undergoing this trial session, actors not only prove their worth to him, but also gain familiarity among fans, hopefully amassing a loyal fan base in the process.

4. Must Be Pure at Heart or Bloodthirsty for Fame

For Yu Zheng, there are two ways to catch his attention: either be of outstanding moral quality with no thought of fame and profit, or be desperately hungry for fame with no intention of giving up.

“I don’t like complicated actors,” he explained. His ideal actor is one who has a firm grasp of his career goals, and is willing to arrive at work early, leave work late, and not shy away from pain or injury.

5. Must Be Cooperative

If there is one type of actor whom Yu Zheng cannot stand, it is the pretentious actor who claims to have no desire for fame but secretly yearns to be popular. Many times, such actors are uncooperative: they do not memorize their lines, they take breaks without first notifying the crew, and they constantly boast about having collaborated with a big-name celebrity.

For Yu Zheng, willingness to cooperate is key, especially when it comes to discussing salary. “If you want to act [in my dramas], you have to lower your fee,” he said boldly. “I spend too much on the costumes and art, so there’s no way I can pay a large amount [to the actors]…. I need to guarantee the quality of my works. So if you don’t want to act, there are a lot of people lining up and waiting to become popular.”

Though rumors have circulated regarding discord between Yu Zheng and various cast members, the screenwriter revealed that there is only one actress whom he cannot forgive, though he did not specify her name. “I changed her fate,” he said, “but then she wronged me over and over.”

Source: QQ.com

This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.

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  1. 1. Must Be Good-Looking

    I believe Mickey He does not fulfill that requirement? Or rather very few of his choice actors do?

    “I changed her fate,” he said, “but then she wronged me over and over.”


    1. LOLOL same with Xiao Long Bao Michelle Chen! His choices of “beauty” aren’t always beautiful!

      1. Haha LOL…I know, that Michelle Chen, barely girl next door cute gosh…
        “In my eyes, there weren’t any handsome men among the old version of F4,” he said. “Even Vic Chou (周渝民) barely counts [as handsome].”
        True to most but I must pull JERRY out of the bunch? Come on, Jerry is ok good looking, all the rest is true NOT handsome at all. Esp Vic Zhou and Xie Men – I dont know his real name.

      2. You are referring to Ken Zhu. I think Vic looks the best out of F4, but beauty is the eye of the beholder.

      3. Nicole mentioned that it is Ruby Lin. I have a good feeling that she may be right because I think she had that same problem with Qiong Yao too. I remember how Qiong Yao said that was really angry with Ruby because she said that she only acted in QSSYMM since she felt she owed QY for her fame in HZGG and only did so to thank her. If a similar thing happened with YZ,then he of course would be really angry as well. Can you blame him?

        Ruby is lucky that she has her own production studio now. I wonder if she was motivated to start her own so she did not have to work under other producers?

      4. qiongyao’s case is different from YZ. At least, relationship between QY and Ruby not bad since QY invited ruby lin as guest star in her 2 recently series.

        YX is different. After Schemes Of A Beauty,he keep mentioned he want to work with ruby lin in another beauty blah blah series. But she didnt take it.
        From that time, his weibo/blog has bad mention about her.

        Off topic. I also think Vic’s looking is the best among 4. And Vic looks better than many of YZ series’s actors.

      5. Yeahhhhh, I find Vic to be more handsome than most of his lead males. I feel like a lot of his leads are too stiff. Honestly though, I don’t really even like his dramas. They’ve turned ancient series into idol dramas.

      6. I guess if that was what happened, then the case between QY is different. However, I personally do not think Ruby is that great of an actress so YZ does not need to act that way if it is true. He has way more options with the many young and rising stars so why should he care whether works with him or not??

      7. @HTS

        “Qiong Yao said that was really angry with Ruby because she said that she only acted in QSSYMM since she felt she owed QY for her fame in HZGG and only did so to thank her.”

        I wonder why QY was angry with Ruby for saying that. Ruby expressed her gratitude in no uncertain terms towards QY for bringing fame to her. Shouldn’t QY be happy that Ruby has this heart?

      8. Kidd, I remember qiong yau criticised Ruby’s poor performance which is true by the way and what ruby said seems to support the fact that her performance was half hearted. Hence qiong yau’s anger. Ruby was terrible and her heart wasn’t in that series. Plus the series was bad anyway .

      9. YZ does not need to act that way if it is true. He has way more options with the many young and rising stars so why should he care whether works with him or not??

        →After success schemes of beauty, YZ make another beauty series as additional installments something like that. So he want to ruby keep act main lead. I remember so many news released from him “Ruby lin might be YZ’s new drama again”.
        As we know, he keep make additional installments included goong 1,2,3 and some beauty series. Its kind of his style keep use same casts as possible.

        You think ruby is not that good actress but its ur own opinion, YZ was different from u at least at that time.
        He praised ruby lin as goddess …all of his blog posts are full of ruby lin name on Schemes of beauty period.
        His exaggerated praises makes me annoying always.
        However his attitude changed sudden when ruby lin announced she will not take YZ’s new drama.

        Maybe he thought Ruby lin betray him? Hahaha

        After ruby lin, YZ’s praise went to Yang mi. Then Yuan shan shan nowadays.

    2. Mickey He has his attraction. My mom likes him very much.
      I guess he looks good in a manly type of way.

      1. I sorta like him too but let’s face it he is not handsome.

      2. but let’s face it he is not handsome.

        still handsome than old kenneth ma.

    1. Yes, they currently form a trilogy (Palace, Palace II, Palace III), though Yu Zheng has said he hopes to film additional installments.

  2. Um, who are you?
    I’m sure he’s complying to actors and actress demand more than they do to him.

  3. Wait…isnt this the dude who copies storyline over and over again in his dramas? For someone who doesnt have much talent, i fail to see how he can gauge others in their looks or success.

  4. He has implied that the actress he can’t forgive is ruby lin

    1. Ruby?

      ” “I changed her fate,” he said, “but then she wronged me over and over.””

      I suppose with Schemes Of A Beauty? But did she wronged him over and over? Was there a feud between them?

      This man has serious ego issues.

      1. no it wouldnt be. ruby got her fame through princess return pearl.

      2. Ruby first achieved fame through princess pearl, but for years, none of her tv series were that well received.

        Apparently, she agreed to act in the 2nd installment of schemes of beauty and blah blah

      3. After Schemes Of A Beauty, YZ want to cast ruby lin again in his new series. However , ruby lin didnt choose his drama because she start to produce her own work. From that, YZ start to dissing ruby lin.

        Whenever YZ cast one actress for his own series, he praised her like goddess. But if they are refused to join his another work, he immediatly change his attitude for them.

        Worship as goddess then criticize on public.
        Li xiao lu, Fan Bingbing, Ruby lin…they are all blamed by YZ.

      4. He definitely has ego issues. They don’t owe him anything, when really it’s a business transaction. They get fame, he gets income from series popularity.

    2. I have a good feeling that it may be Ruby too. Even all of her recent series are not good in my opinion,including the ones that she produced.

      1. Would Ruby Lin’s production works really care what tvb fans think of her series?

      2. Of course because her series will be broadcast in hk too

      3. Of course she should care since her series would be aired in HK.

      4. Of course because her series will be broadcast in hk too


        so what? korean series are also broadcasted in hk. yet korean producers dont care what tvb fans think.

      5. “Of course because her series will be broadcast in hk too”

        Many non-HK dramas are broadcast in hk. if that is the case, would every production company care what hk viewers care? Probs. not.

  5. unless you have watched all of Yu Zheng’s productive works, people should remain quiet since it doesnt really concern you.

    1. Why do we need to watch all of his works to comment? I feel that I have seen enough to comment. I do think that if we have not seen any then it would not be as fair to comment,however that does not mean that we cannot.

    2. Agree with my two cents. some people who are commenting have no interest in his dramas but commenting just because its funny to,

      1. Have seen too many of his series so yes I suppose I qualify to comment. Any china series fans would have seen at least two of his series.

      2. I highly doubt yu zheng would care what people here on this website thinks of his dramas. very easy to complain, sitting in armchairs.

      3. Of course he does not care, but we are just posting our thoughts on this topic so it is not a big deal at all. Anyways, I have seen several of his works and some I really enjoy, but some not really… But whose works can all be good???

  6. this guy is an ass lol all his series are bad and boring. most of the actors he picked in his dramas arent good loooking. a lot of them are plastic too..

    1. i think he’s comparing their looks to his own

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