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December 12, 2010

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Starring in China's version of 'Saving Pvt Ryan'

CHINA'S first Broadway singer, Wang Luoyong, has enjoyed an illustrious career and now stars in the TV serial that is China's answer to "Saving Private Ryan."

The veteran actor, now 52, plays a courageous Kuomintang soldier in the 32-episode series "Saving Woman Soldier Situ Hui," which is receiving critical acclaim.

He has appeared in various Bruce Lee movies but is especially well known for the lead role of the engineer in "Miss Saigon," staging around 2,500 performances in the United States. He has also appeared in American films and on TV.

"Saving Woman Soldier Situ Hui" is aired nightly on the local News Channel.

Born in Hubei Province, Wang studied at the Shanghai Theater Academy in the early 1980s. He began to study acting at Boston University in 1987.

In 1992, after being rejected eight times, he found his first role as the engineer in the first national tour of "Miss Saigon." It was the first time a singer from the Chinese mainland had been cast in a Broadway musical. He received the US Fox Actor Award in 1999.

He chatted with Shanghai Daily.

Q: How did you decide to play in China's counterpart to "Saving Private Ryan?"

A: TV military stories are among my favorites and it has been rewarding to star in related sitcom and dramas. There are battles of wisdom, strategies and faith; they provide insights into life and death, brotherhood and the complexity and diversity of human beings. I was also enchanted by the beautiful scenery of the filming location, Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province.

Q: What have you learned from your experience as the first Chinese mainland Broadway singer?

A: In short, knowledge, love and honesty. This experience means a great deal to me. It has aroused my enthusiasm, sincerity and passion for life. When I was in the United States, I also made a lot of friends. I learned every day to be a better man. Last but not least, I learned that a helping hand is always happier than a receiving one.

Q: What are the shortcomings in China's TV and film industries compared with those in the US?

A: We have such a rich cultural heritage, and first of all, we need to show our respect and affection for classics. The younger generation of film makers and actors should also be more imaginative and creative. They should use their expertise wisely rather than just seek quick returns.

Q: What inspires your performing style? What are the most important qualities for a successful actor?

A: I got a good and solid foundation in basic acting skills when I studied at Shanghai Theater Academy. Additionally, my 20 years or so acting on Broadway and in other prestigious US art venues inspired me to develop my own performing style. I am grateful to my teachers in the US for their honest and positive attitude toward life, as well as their courage and sincerity in confronting their own weaknesses and strengths. When I was young, my idol was domestic performing artist Zhao Dan. Later I got to know so many distinctive and talented people who taught me to keep an open mind for learning, to be confident and to love people and ourselves.

Q: You have also dabbled in opera and script writing. What appeals most to you?

A: Although film and TV acting provides more income, as a matter of fact, I really enjoy my experience as a stage performer. Unlike film and TV performance, the stage offers direct and quick feedback and audience interaction. I compare my stage acting to a triple jump competition because it requires long consecutive efforts and passion. Each stage performance lasts less than two hours, but it usually takes a long time for me to prepare and rehearse.

Q: What are your plans?

A: This question reminds me of "Waiting For Godot." If you ask an actor what's his next plan for work, it must be waiting - waiting for the best work, the best team and the best opportunity for creation. My plan is quite simple, that is, trying my best to improve myself. I want to read more books, keep fit and healthy, wait and get well prepared for truly marvelous work.


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