Actress Carina Lau is returning to the small screen in the TV drama Eighteen Springs, which she co-stars with actor Guo Xiaodong as a married couple. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
Carina Lau, one of the most popular film actresses in Hong Kong, is now returning to TV with an adaptation of novelist Eileen Chang's book Half a Lifelong Romance.
"I am a fan of (Eileen) Chang and have read a lot of her classic tales such as The Golden Cangue and Red Rose, White Rose. They are sad yet beautiful love stories ..."
Carina Lau, actress
The TV drama titled Eighteen Springs stars Lau in a lead role as a nightclub hostess who becomes a slave of her own miserable marriage. The new series marks Lau's reappearance on the small screen after a 14-year hiatus following the TV drama The Spring River Flows East featuring actors Hu Jun and Chen Daoming.
"I am a fan of Chang and have read a lot of her classic tales such as The Golden Cangue and Red Rose, White Rose. They are sad yet beautiful love stories that depict young women who want to chase their dreams but are oppressed by social hierarchy (in their time)," Lau said at a Beijing news conference on May 6.
The A-list actress has used her celebrity influence to invite Oscar-nominated costume designer William Chang Suk-ping and veteran producer Shi Nan-sun to join the TV project. A frequent collaborator with iconic director Wong Kar-wai, Chang Suk-ping is known for his aesthetics in capturing the beauty of women through colorful cheongsams in Chinese films.
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Lau says the designer has traveled to foreign countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and India to buy fabric to make the cheongsams for Eighteen Springs that is set in 1930s' Shanghai.
She has already visited Beijing three times earlier just to try them on, she says.
"I have been on a diet through the entire shooting process," says Lau of her need to stay slim enough to wear them.
Eighteen Springs depicts the love story of a young engineer and a factory typist who are forced apart due to a string of misfortunes and misunderstandings spanning a decade.
Lau's character is the elder sister of the female typist, played by mainland actress Jiang Xin, best known for the 2011 hit TV series Empresses in the Palace.
Speaking about her role, Lau says: "She is a kind woman. Unfortunately, she lives in a society that had some ridiculous bias against women, making her a tragic figure."
Her character named Gu Manlu is forced into prostitution following the death of her father, the only bread-earner in the family, and has to marry a businessman who uses her as a plaything and even has his eyes on her younger sister.
Some Chinese netizens have criticized the casting, saying Lau, 53, and Jiang, 36, were "old" to play the characters as depicted in the book.
"I don't know why they care about age," Lau says, adding that she believes a good actress can "become" any role no matter how far the character is from her own life.
The series, which also casts actor Guo Xiaodong and Taiwan actor Joe Cheng, is scheduled to run on Beijing Satellite TV and streaming site iQiyi around the end of May.
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