EXCLUSIVE! 'Something Just Like This' Stars Wu Jinyan and Johnny Wang Talk About Working Together
'Story of Yanxi Palace' actress Wu Jinyan and top actor Johnny Huang revisit their roles in this C-drama set in a livestreaming company
Now that we’re all accustomed to buying online and window-shopping by way of live-selling streams, the Chinese drama Something Just Like This seems even more relevant than ever. This highly anticipated, 47-episode drama which was released on iQiyi last November, was adapted from a novel entitled Du Jia Zhuan Chong by Sui Zheng, and was touted as the big comeback to television for Story of Yanxi Palace actress Wu Jinyan. Plus, actor Johnny Huang or Huang Jing Yu is likewise known for his acting chops and is often paired with the most talented actresses in C-drama.
This empowering story is about a woman’s rise in the live-selling business, her road to achieving her dreams, and finding the love of her life, who turns out to be right beside her. The lead character is Qian Xixi (Wu Jinyan), a livestreamer-turned CEO who starts from the very bottom. She has a difficult life, coming from a broken family, and was unofficially adopted into another family, that of Duan Ran’s (Johnny Huang). From working in traditional retail, she gets into the field of live-selling, so when her ‘brother’ Duan Ran comes home from his studies, they team up in taking over the live-commerce firm. Throughout the episodes, the two find themselves falling in love.
Here’s our exclusive interview with them:
Metro.Style: Something Just Like This is the first TV play focusing on live streaming industry in China. Do you have a new understanding of live streaming through shooting this play? Or have you changed some of your previous view?
Wu Jinyan: After learning about this industry, I find it is really not easy. In addition to that the anchors need to remain highly focused in front of the camera for a long time, many staff behind the camera also work very hard. Each of them bears a very important part and is closely related to each other. Maybe all walks of life are like this, and there are much unknown hardships behind them.
M: Many netizens say that Qian Xixi is a modern version of Wei Yingluo in Story of Yanxi Palace. What do you think of this comparison?
WJ: I think these two characters are quite different. Qian Xixi is soft outside but firm inside while Wei Yingluo is firm outside but soft inside. I think there is no need to compare them. Every character is different, and sometimes people have different understandings of the same character.
M: A lot of the audience say that you play the growth of Qian Xixi very well. What do you think is the biggest challenge? How to overcome it?
WJ: The biggest challenge is the transition from being an anchor to being a CEO. Being an anchor, you need to be more vivacious and outgoing; being a CEO, you need to be calmer. But on the whole, Qian Xixi is more outgoing. It’s necessary to grasp the scale for me.
M: Compared with ten years ago, the way many people shop has been completely changed by the Internet. Is that the same for you?
WJ: Yes, I shop online more often than shopping in the malls. It's not only convenient, but also offers many discounts. Every time when I unpack, I feel very happy, being both uneasy and excited.
M: Many girls love nothing more than buying clothes online. What is your must-buy thing for online shopping? Could you please share your most memorable online shopping experience so far?
WJ: I especially like to buy hats. When I see the hat I like, I must buy it. For example, I have been addicted to berets recently, and I can’t help but buy them when seeing different styles. The most memorable online shopping experience may be next time, because I believe I will always find a new opportunity to buy.
M: Recently, many actors have joined the ranks of live commerce. Have you ever made such an attempt? If you have the opportunity for live commerce, with the "experience" being the "Queen of Live Commerce" in Something Just Like This, would you like to have a try? What do you want to sell?
WJ: In fact, I have participated in the brand's live streaming activities. But I’m not responsible for selling goods, because there are anchors beside me. If there is an opportunity, I’d like to have a try. I most want to propagate my TV plays dramas through live streaming, all kinds of dramas. Never miss it.
M: This is your first time to cooperate with Huang Jingyu. Could you please share your impressions of him before and after your cooperation?
WJ: I have seen some of Mr. Huang's works before our cooperation, and I think he has the image of being a very positive and dauntless man. After the cooperation, I found that he is also a very good and professional actor. He can naturally lead me to blend into the scene. It makes me feel relieved to cooperate with him.
M: Shortly after the play's broadcasting, some netzines exposed some behind-the-scenes footages, and pointed out that Huang took liberties with you. Director Chen Feihong responded that he did this in order to build up the understanding between you. What are your own understandings and thoughts?
WJ: Because Duan Ran and Qian Xixi are childhood sweethearts in the play. They grow up together and have lived together for more than ten years. They are as close as brother and sister. For an actor and an actress who cooperate for the first time, it is not easy to establish such level of trust and familiarity in a short time. I am very grateful to Mr. Huang. He really pays attention to details, which helps me to enter the role more quickly.
M: In order to enter the role in the emotional scenes as soon as possible, many actors have to develop a tacit understanding within a short period of time. How do you usually develop a tacit understanding with your partner?
WJ: First, study the script more, so that I can better enter the role; second, communicate with the partner more on the set.
M: In Something Just Like This, the love line and career line are controlled properly, which get rid of a criticism that a lot of career dramas focus on love under the cover of the career. Do you also have the same feeling?
WJ: Something Just Like This has not only sweet love, but also fighting spirit to start a business. Along both the love line and career line, the audience can see their own wonderful stories. I believe it can meet different needs of the audience.
M: Could you please summarize your performance and the meaning of the past year to you?
WJ: [It] has been a fruitful year. I have several works that have been broadcast and several new works. Of course, due to the epidemic,  has been very tough not only for me, but also for many people. It has also made me pay more attention to my family and my own health.
M: You have been shooting one drama after another. You also joined the cast of Imperial Cuisine. Do you feel very warm to cooperate with your mentor Yu Zheng and your old partner Xu Kai again?
WJ: Back to the company’s cast, I feel like getting home. Because we are too familiar with each other and have tacit understanding in the cooperation, we don’t need to take much time to run in. I have great trust in the cast and the team behind the scenes, and I hope we can create something different this time.
Metro: Could you talk about your cooperation with Wu Jinyan for this TV play? How did you develop tacit understanding/chemistry? (The elder brother and the little sister grow up together with wits and they become a couple later)
Johnny Huang: Tacit understanding needs to be cultivated, and if there is not enough time reserved for us in the camera, we should understand and communicate with each other during practice or rest. It will be more believable for the audiences when we act the tacit understanding after we have been friends.
M: Is there any memorable and interesting things happened during shooting?
JH: There was nothing specific about it, I got along well with everyone and overall felt very happy.
M: Duan Ran is an upright, humorous, kind and handsome man, and what is the biggest similarity between you and this role? What is the biggest difference?
JH: I am also upright, humorous and kind. The difference is that I am not as rich as he.
M: If there will be a chance for you to start a business in the future, which industry will you select and why?
JH: Catering, barbecue or those relating to movie and TV play.
M: The story is about the live industry, and could you share your memorable / impressive live shopping experience? What’s your highest shopping record?
JH: I am always very busy and I had not come into contact with live shopping before this TV play.
M: As you have acted as a soldier in My Dear Martial Attire, a policeman in Ice Breaker, a sniper in Operation Red Sea and so on, your image as a steel-willed man has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Do you worry about being typecast in this character?
JH: Each character is endowed with the unique personality and feature; I always capture the aspect of one character different from others to act, and they are all steel-willed men, but not the same.
M: Do you have any worries when filming some action scenes?
JH: I almost have no worry and pay more attention to the filming effect. Without doubt, filming action movies need more physical power and preparation in advance is necessary.
M: Would you rather portray characters of steel-willed men or one who's more relaxed in romance dramas?
JH: This is subject to the suitability of a project.
M: What new breakthrough do you hope to achieve in your future works?
JH: I hope to leave some classic characters and works.
Something Just Like This is available on iQiyi