Theatrical Transformation of Chen Xiao
Due to my exposure to Female Prime Minister, Chen Xiao caught my attention and I began to "study" his filmography. I first heard his name on Spcnet Forum from a fellow hardcore FengMi Shipper and my good buddy, Mango_cake. She seemed to be very fond of him. When I saw his photo, my first reaction was "Oh young boy with pretty face!." End of story...for the moment.
It was not until recently that I decided to take a closer look into Chen Xiao's past works. I was bored out of my mind due to the lack of news relating to Female Prime Minister and the fact that I had no better gossip topic to dig about. Despite his relatively young age (I'm a few years older than him, but somehow I feel like his grandma's age), he succeeded in amassing quite a wide range of roles on his resume. He is certainly not afraid to branch out and tackle challenging or "detestable" characters. His roles can vary from a psychotic sexual pervert, lovesick warlord, hapless royalty, charming prince to transvestite. In fact, I realize that I have actually watched at least 3 productions with Chen Xiao before knowing his existence. Even after Female Prime Minister's casting announcement, I still didn't know who he was nor recognize his face in past dramas/movies I watched. Digging into his filmography became a fun game for me similar to finding Waldo in the "Where's Waldo" children books.
The Qin Empire
This series is perhaps one of my all time favorite mainland Chinese historical series and probably the first drama I ever watched Chen Xiao act in...without knowing it. I assumed he played a very minor role or only had a cameo role because I totally don't remember him in this series. He also looked quite different from his current looks.
Hidden Intention/Abandoned Secrets
I didn't watch much of Hidden Intention. Actually I didn't watch anything except for the ending. LOL. Chen Xiao only had an cameo role and he appeared in the last few minutes at the end. Coincidentally, it was also the only few minutes I happened to watch. I definitely remember his brief appearance now that I see a photo of him in the drama.
Detective Dee (movie with Andy Lau and Li Bingbing)
Only a short cameo role. You will probably miss him if you blink.
Happy Mother-in-law and Pretty Daughter-in-law
Again, only watched bits and pieces of this series, and actually abandoned it before Chen Xiao's character appeared. However, I heard his character was quite memorable as a young warlord and earned him some devoted fans.
As the hapless young 19th Prince, Chen Xiao's character adamantly pursued a beautiful courtesan played by none other than his Female Prime Minister co-star, Zhao Liying. His love was unrequited in Gong 2. But...now he will finally get his "revenge" because Zhao Liying's Lu Zhen will have to suffer a lot of heartache on his behalf.
Like Hidden Intention, I didn't watch much of this series. One of the few scenes I saw was his character's attempt to rape Ying'er from Sealed with a Kiss. I was inappropriately laughing my head off when I saw that scene because I just couldn't associate him with that charming prince from Female Prime Minister. Chen Xiao's Bai Xiaoqun was a total spoiled brat, opium addict, and sexual pervert.
Chen Xiao will play the revenge-bound conflicted pretty boy, Lin Pingzhi, who will turn into a transvestite for the sake of learning martial arts from the coveted Sunflower Manual. Anyone willing to castrate yourself to learn the ultimate kung-fu?
Based on the few clips, scenes, trailers I've watched, Chen Xiao may not be a great actor yet and may even overact at times, but he is definitely not a bad BAD actor nor a wooden lifeless one. For some actors, I feel no matter what characters they play, I can always detect a strong "personal mannerism." If I can sense this strong personal "mannerism" in an actor/actress, it rings alarm bells in my head and equates...well...to "just plain forceful acting". I believe pure good acting happens when I cannot sense any strong personal mannerism of the actor in the character portrayal or associate the actor's new character from any the previous characters he/she played. I need to become completely immersed in the character's plight. I genuinely admire malleable actors and anyone retaining the same consistent mannerism/style in every character they portrayed is not a good actor.
The presence of this "personal mannerism" has become somewhat of a parameter for me to judge an actor's level of skill in this art. Luckily, I haven't identified/detected Chen Xiao's strong personal mannerism yet. He still has a lot of potential and any deficiency can be further perfected with time and experience. He's also gifted with penetrating eyes, which mean they have a life of its own. Perhaps in a few years, Chen Xiao can earn critical acclaim as an actor like Chen Kun. I'm really curious how much Chen Xiao can grow as an actor.