Popular Chinese actor Hu Ge, whose suave looks made him the star of small screen imperial dramas, has tapped into a different side of himself for “Wild Goose Lake”, a gritty gangster flick competing for the top prize at the Cannes film festival.
The Shanghai-born heartthrob plays the male lead in acclaimed Chinese director Diao Yinan’s latest film, which follows the noirish vein of his 2014 crime thriller “Black Coal, Thin Ice” which won the Golden Bear at Berlin.
Chinese authorities, notorious for strict censorship, appear to have officially approved the movie’s premiere at Cannes on Saturday.
Hu will be testing his acting chops against Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio who star in Quentin Tarantino’s new film, which is also in the running for the Palme d’Or.
The dark role is dramatically different to the wholesome heroes Hu usually plays.
Starring as a biker gang leader in “Wild Goose Lake”, Hu’s character is his first lead role on the big screen following a stellar career in television.
A string of hits has made him one of the highest-paid male actors on Chinese TV, commanding fees of around 100 million yuan ($14.7 million, 13 million euros), Hong Kong news site HK01 reported last year.
The new movie marks his return to the limelight after a hiatus to study in the US.
Hu, 36, shot to fame in mainland China for his leading roles in wildly popular period series starting with the historical martial arts drama “Chinese Paladin” in 2005.