By Beth Main
Character actor Shi Zhongpeng has become an overnight online hit after it was revealed that he dies up to eight times a day on set, playing various Japanese soldiers in different WWII-era television dramas.
The 26 year old TV extra works at the Hengdian film studios in Zhejiang. Hengdian made 48 productions about the War of Resistance Against Japan (Second Sino-Japanese War), 30 percent of the total 148 productions made last year. Having worked there for four years Shi is an expert at portraying the Japanese ‘devils’. He puts down his success to being able to ‘accurately’ portray Japanese soldiers by acting ‘as sleazy as possible’.
The SCMP reports:
‘There’s a limit on costume stories and spy dramas are not allowed to be aired during prime time slots,’ the report quoted Zhou Weicheng, general manager of Greentown Media, as saying. ‘What can we shoot other than the anti-Japanese war?’
This kind of censorship seriously limits scope for creativity so producers rely on old themes. Anti-Japanese material is particularly popular in China at the moment [Ed.: when isn’t it?] given the ongoing dispute over the Diaoyu islands.
The leading man of Hengdian is also working his socks off killing the enemy, star actor Lin Jiang Guo shot three full anti-Japanese dramas last year, he says it was physically exhausting but that he will continue in 2013.
Having appeared over 200 times as a Japanese soldier last year, Shi says his biggest wish is to appear as a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Eighth Route Army. Bless.