Hawick Lau's In Love with Power Interview on his character Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji - A conniving and manipulative emperor with a touch of loving softness
An emperor is also human. The higher he climbs, the more solitude he feels. His sense of fear also intensifies. I will inject my real feelings and thoughts into the character of Hong Taiji (a.k.a. Huang Taiji). For instance, he has many wives and concubines, but his most genuine love is given only to one woman. He uses many women as his pawns. His marriages to these women are driven by ulterior motives. Some are conducted for political gains, and one marriage results from superstition, such as his marriage to Dayu'er. Many say Dayu'er possesses the destiny to become the empress of an empire. She is the bearer of auspicious fortune, so he must have her to bring him good luck and would not allow others to possess her. But his feelings for Hailanzhu is different. Their relationship is absolutely free from personal and political interests. It's purely love. I will withhold the softest side of Hong Taiji and show it only to Hailanzhu.
Compared to Mo Shaoqian, Hong Taiji is much more conniving. He treats his brothers well. He also treats the other women nicely. Sometimes I thought to myself "Whoa! How could he do that?" I seldom filmed period dramas so it took some time for me to adjust myself into that mode and find the right feeling for the character. In a modern version of a conniving character, he can openly express "oh yeah, oh hahaha," but for an emperor, no matter how conniving you can get, you do not need to hide it behind the "oh hahaha." I need a good grasp on this distinction. The small subtle details are most difficult to control. I still don't dare to replay what was filmed. I discussed mostly with the directors. When the footage get replayed, sometimes they would go "whoa" and I don't even know what they meant. I just try to insert different feelings into the character.
In the beginning, Hong Taiji has a very calm persona with no explicit display of emotions. He has many thoughts. He sees that many of his brothers get into troubles and would act furtively behind everyone's back. Everything he does is for the benefit of the Qing Empire. But after he ascends to khanate, his "fear of loss" becomes even stronger and I will show that fear more explicitly in my acting. When his brothers disband into many political fractions, I will sense the intensity of this threat, then try to protect myself and consolidate my power. Consequently, he becomes even more scheming. I think he's quite pitiful.
|Hong Taiji with his true love, Hailanzhu|