Interview|Yu Hui: Interpreting Soong Ching Ling's heaviness and nobility in "Dawn of the East"

    On January 20, the well-known director Gao Xixi teamed up with well-known screenwriters Long Pingping and Qin Qin to create a major revolutionary drama "Dawn of the East", which was aired in CCTV-1 prime time for three consecutive episodes, ushering in the finale. The play takes the historical event of the liberation of Shanghai in 1949 as the main narrative, and tells how the Chinese Communist Party faced the historic "big test" of ruling a big city, and built the "old Shanghai" full of vitality into a "new Shanghai" full of vitality.

    At the moment when the creation of major revolutionary historical dramas is harvesting, how to bring refreshing, beautiful and worth-seeing works to the audience? "Dawn of the East" undoubtedly handed over a satisfactory answer. Since its broadcast, the show has been singing high ratings and achieving good results steadily. The highest ratings of prime-time TV dramas on China Audiovisual Big Data (CVB) reached 1.910%, leading the weekly rankings many times. In terms of social discussion, it is fully blooming, and it has won 80+ hot searches on the whole network, and the main topic of #晓晨东方# has been read more than 190 million times.

    A good drama needs a good book to base it on. "Dawn of the East" is adapted from the award-winning work of the 15th "Five One Project" Award for Spiritual Civilization Construction and the documentary literature "Battle Shanghai" by the late writer Liu Tong. Historical events such as the "two whites and one black" battle of coal, the fight against bandits, the elimination of enemy agents, and the encounter with the "big bombing" are highly storytelling and artistic, and the historical "big test" of the Chinese Communist Party's governance of super-large cities is accurately restored with images.

    It's a good show, and it needs a group of excellent actors to join in the show. In the serious and major revolutionary themes, the audience can still see the subtleties that touch the heartstrings, and feel the fine style, glorious tradition and personality charm of the revolutionary ancestors. "Dawn of the East" not only presents the images of revolutionary ancestors such as the domineering mayor of Shanghai Chen Yi, the rigorous and pragmatic "Treasurer of the Republic" Chen Yun, but also portrays a group of people from the democratic parties such as the dignified Soong Ching Ling and the willful Huang Yanpei.

    Recently, Yu Hui, who played Soong Ching Ling in the play, accepted an exclusive interview with The Paper.

    Yu Hui as Soong Ching Ling


    "Song Qingling is a model of the combination of Eastern and Western cultures"

    The Paper : The Soong Ching Ling you played this time is about the same age as you are now. Both are women, so they naturally have a bit more speculative grasp of the inner drama. What kind of understanding and analysis of the background of historical figures have you done specifically, and how to externalize it in the performance?

    Yu Hui : In 1949, Soong Ching Ling was 56 years old, which is indeed about the same age as me now. In order to understand and shape this great woman, I have collected a large number of videos and written materials about her, and read "Song Qingling's Great and Glorious Life" and other books. Among them, by reading "The Biography of Sun Yat-sen", I noticed that Soong Ching Ling was only in her 20s when she followed Mr. Sun Yat-sen, and Mr. Sun played a great role in her subsequent life choices. I also pay attention to Soong Ching Ling's joys, sorrows, sorrows and joys in the past years, her acquaintance with Sun Yat-sen, their mutual acquaintance and love, her family background, her father, her experience of studying in the United States, and so on. I also went to the former residence of the Song family in Wenchang, Hainan. On the one hand, I was looking for the atmosphere of her former living environment, and on the other hand, I also hoped to visit her family story on the spot. With all these efforts, we said that our words and deeds look good, and I gradually walked into Soong Ching Ling's inner world, which also made me respect her more and more.

    The Paper : I noticed that the script of "Dawn of the East" was adapted from "Battle Shanghai" by Liu Tong, a historian and professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

    Yu Hui : It is very regrettable that Teacher Liu Tong passed away on the eve of the broadcast of "Dawn of the East". We all feel very sad and regretful... I was born in a military family. My father is a veteran of Sanye (the Third Field Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army). He participated in the Liberation War and experienced the Liaoshen, Huaihai, Pingjin and other battles, including the southward battle. If he is alive now, he will be 95 years old this year. Until his death, on his left arm, there was still a shrapnel left over from the war years, because the conditions at that time had not been taken out...

    So no matter in the preparation stage of reading the script or during the filming, I always have a feeling that that is the era my father experienced, and now I am going to perform that era, which is a heavy emotion and responsibility . There will always be regrets in life. It is a pity that Teacher Liu Tong did not see our TV series, and it is also a pity that my father did not see Soong Ching Ling played by his daughter. I participated in this play with strong emotions in it.

    The Paper : Tell me about your understanding of the role of Soong Ching Ling?

    Yu Hui : My understanding of playing Soong Ching Ling is that she is upright and beautiful, with an independent personality, and her eyes reveal firmness and confidence. At the same time, she was educated in the West, broad-minded and kind. Her greatest achievement is the creation of the welfare cause of New China, which just reflects her great kindness, a kind of great compassion that helps the common people all over the world and cares about the suffering of the people. At the same time, Soong Ching Ling is also a model of the combination of Eastern and Western cultures, and it is also a great refinement and sublimation of my role as a mother in recent years. Soong Ching Ling had no heirs in her life. She was just a great woman who cared about the common people in the world. This was not the mother of the empress dowager of the feudal dynasty, but the Three People's Principles practiced by a "mother of the country" who was going to the republic. I hope to be able to deduce the kind of thick and sublime in her.

    "The breath should be able to 'sink' to the heel feeling"

    The Paper : As for your role as Soong Ching Ling, I saw the makeup photos and watched TV dramas. I would like to say that this may be the most realistic restoration of Soong Ching Ling's appearance in 1949 in previous film and television dramas.

    Yu Hui : This is first of all the credit of the modeling teacher. The entire team of "Dawn of the East" is very strong. This is a historical drama. In addition to the leaders and celebrities in the film, they are all historical figures with names and surnames. So this time we (the actors who played the roles) made models based on the historical figures of the same period. The stylist Mr. Yang Shudong is very serious and professional. Mr. Yang is over 70 years old, and he works like a young man on the set every day, and has won the respect and trust of all the actors.

    Comparing my face with Soong Ching Ling, a big problem is my eyebrows. Soong Ching Ling's eyebrows at that time, we compared historical photos, were the typical willow-leaf eyebrows of Chinese women at that time. Using my current eyebrows to paint her eyebrows is very difficult to do in makeup. In the end, I had no other choice, so I simply told the makeup artist to shave off all my eyebrows, so that the shaved eyebrows could be painted according to Soong Ching Ling's appearance.

    During the filming process, my makeup basically lasted about six hours a day, and it took nearly an hour to remove my makeup after filming every day. Except for the thrush, my entire face was sculpted from the cheekbones down to the neck. This is a very painful thing for an actor. do you know? You can't even turn your head, you can't look up. Because when the head is raised, the glue may come off in those places, and it won't work if the rotation is too large, because it is not a normal "skin". You feel that the entire jaw area is full of damp sweat that cannot be drained out. It was filmed in one day, and it happened to be June when we filmed. I feel itchy and red all over my face, that's what it feels like. It took about a full week before I really started to get used to it.

    Soong Ching Ling's makeup photo

    The Paper : When it comes to eyebrows, in fact, eyebrows and eyes are the seedlings of a person's heart, so let's talk about the inner drama.

    Yu Hui : As an actor, my eyes are too big. When people's eyes are big, they will give people a feeling that everything in your heart is revealed, and you lack the sense of vicissitudes and time. These days, I'm also chasing dramas, and I've been watching every episode of "Dawn of the East". While watching his own performance, he recalled the feeling when he looked up Soong Ching Ling's materials and pictures in the past.

    Of course, acting is an art of regrets, and there are still many, many regrets. I really appreciate the performance of Daniel Day Louis in the movie "Lincoln". Lincoln is a great president, but Daniel plays him as light as possible. My role as Soong Ching Ling this time helped. Including "Mrs. America" starring Cate Blanchett and "Mrs. Thatcher" starring Meryl Streep, these are my favorite movies. How to interpret the sense of relaxation under the heaviness is actually quite difficult.

    Stills of "Breaking Dawn in the East"

    The Paper : After the People's Liberation Army entered Shanghai, military discipline was strictly enforced. In order not to disturb the people, Soong Ching Ling went out to visit in the morning light. She was moved by the mighty and civilized teacher in front of her. This classic drama has been shown in many film and television works in the past. Can you recall the filming of this scene?

    Yu Hui : Soong Ching Ling went out early in the morning and saw PLA soldiers sleeping all over the streets in Shanghai. In her eyes, these soldiers were like children. They were so young and their military discipline was so strict. What I want to deduce is the maternal side of her human nature. She is moving and moving in her elegance and calmness. Her gait, her figure, and her words all bring out a kind of quiet compassion and joy. This time, in the use of breath, I must "sink" down, that is, your breath should "sink" to the heel.

    The Paper : In the play, after Soong Ching Ling received invitations from the CCP several times to go north to participate in politics, how did her attitude change?

    Yu Hui : Before the liberation of Shanghai started, she must have hesitated, but she always yearned for the light and stood on the side of the Communist Party. It was also shown in the TV series that the Battle of Shanghai started in May of that year. Before that, Li Zongren of the Kuomintang also hoped to use Soong Ching Ling's popularity in the Communist Party to do mediation, but Soong Ching Ling refused. Later, both Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou wrote to Soong Ching Ling, inviting her to Beijing. Of course she was touched by this, but on the one hand, her health is really not good, on the other hand, she also has some concerns of her own.

    This question you raised is very good. Soong Ching Ling's role in the entire "Dawn of the East" is not very important, and this is a group drama after all. Soong Ching Ling is one of the key characters in this play. Every time she appears on the scene, she has content, has certain meaning and significance, not simply going through the motions, and there is no long-winded thing, which is of course a challenge for the actors. I know very well that behind each of my scenes is the background of the times at that time. If you don’t master these histories and details, you will not be able to perform Soong Ching Ling’s inner drama well, because these will inevitably be reflected in her actions and eyes. in tone. The performance must be accurate and vivid.

    Screenshot of "Dawn of the East"

    "I am very honored and proud to reproduce the history of Shanghai's liberation"

    The Paper : I noticed that you have a piano performance in the play this time. Is it Strauss Waltz (fragment)?

    Yu Hui : This piano performance took place before the dialogue between Soong Ching Ling and Huang Yanpei, and there is such an arrangement in the plot. I have played the piano since elementary school, and I have a little foundation, but I have almost forgotten it over the years (laughs). When I came to the Hengdian studio, I discussed with Director Gao Xixi at first whether I could play Chopin's "Lullaby"? But the difficulty of this challenge is too high, and the plot is the eve of the two going to watch the military parade in Shanghai. Their mood should be brisk and joyful, and later they chose a Strauss waltz.

    I believe that hard work can make up for weakness, and I wish I could play in the play myself. After coming to the Hengdian studio, I specially invited a piano teacher to practice in her piano room. Usually in the hotel, I use the keyboard "piano" bought online to practice all the time. Its keyboard is made of rubber, which is incomparable with the touch of a real piano, and there will be mixed sound when pressed by fingers. This experience made me obsessed with playing the piano again. Not only did I complete the tasks in the play, but now I also like to play the piano at home in my spare time.

    The keyboard practiced by Yu Hui during filming

    The Paper : "Dawn of the East" is an annual masterpiece "produced in Shanghai". As an actor trained by the Shanghai Theater Academy and an actor of the Shanghai Film Actors Troupe, your performance this time can be described as a "hometown drama". Can you talk about your personal fate and relationship with the city of Shanghai?

    Yu Hui : I came to Shanghai from Shenyang at the age of 19 and studied acting at the Shanghai Theater Academy. It can be said that Shanghai is my second hometown. Looking back, before I graduated, I played the role of Mrs. Wang in the classic drama "Fortress Besieged" directed by Huang Shuqin. When the TV series aired in 1990, I had already graduated and was assigned to the Shanghai Film Studio. I remember very clearly that I happened to have a face-to-face meeting with director Huang Shuqin that day in the actor's dormitory of our factory. She pulled me and said, Mr. Qian Zhongshu wrote a letter and praised me specifically, saying that the actor she (the director) found was the character he imagined when he was writing the novel, and he was Mrs. Wang in his novel. From that day on, I really believed in that sentence: there are no small roles, only big actors.

    "Fortress Besieged" Stills

    In 2001, Yu Hui took a photo with Huang Shuqin, director of "Fortress Besieged" after giving birth to a daughter.

    Shanghai Theater Academy and Shanghai Film Studio (now Shanghai Film Group) are all palaces of art. Teacher Bai Yang, Teacher Qin Yi, Teacher Zhang Ruifang, Teacher Da Shichang, Teacher Xiang Mei and other senior artists, their truth-seeking and dedication to art have taught me a lot. I have worked with Teacher Qin Yi twice. The first time I filmed with her, I was only in my 20s. Once again, I am already in my 40s, and I can still draw strength from her.

    The Paper : In the past, you have also acted in many Shanghai-themed film and television dramas. If I remember correctly, in the TV series "Moku No. 76" in the early 1990s, you played the role of Zheng Pingru, a female agent who infiltrated the enemy . Please talk about your past performance experience and interesting stories.

    Yu Hui : Back then, I was a college student who had just left school, and all performance opportunities were worth cherishing in my opinion. On the road of performing arts, I was lucky. I was supported by director Huang Shuqin before leaving school. In the 1990s, I also starred in "Wu Zetian" and "Han Wudi" directed by Chen Jialin, and later directed by Sun Sha He won the Golden Rooster Award for playing the heroine in the movie "Xilian".

    Being an actor is actually a passive industry. Every actor dreams of receiving a good show and meeting a good director. Along the way, directors Kang Honglei, Yan Jiangang, Mao Weining, etc. have all given me great help. Especially director Gao Xixi, with whom I have collaborated on four works in recent years. Before starring in "Dawn of the East", we just collaborated on the poverty alleviation TV series "Flower Blossoming Mountain Township", and there is also a youth inspirational TV series "Hello, Yesterday", which is currently on the air. I am very grateful to Director Gao Xixi for allowing me to try something different Themes, different characters. I especially hope that good directors, including young directors, can pay attention to an actor like me who is still acting in a down-to-earth manner, and an actor who is still tirelessly pursuing artistic creation.

    Stills of "Flower Blooming Mountain Country"

    "Hello, Yesterday" Stills


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