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Hunky glory

In Gf*Bf, Joseph Chang (above) got to try something new: the freedom to run naked. (PHOTO: FESTIVE FILMS)

Publication Date : 10-10-2012


There is a pivotal scene in Taiwanese romance drama Gf*Bf where lead actor Joseph Chang gets a big kiss from male co-star Rhydian Vaughan during a playful drinking game.

It is an emotional moment for Chang's closet gay character Liam, who up to that point, had kept secret his infatuation with Vaughan's straight character Aaron.

Chang plays a man who is at once elated and confused about what to do, repressed and yet quietly excited about the kiss. His understated performance in the film has secured him a nomination for the prestigious Golden Horse Award for Best Actor. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Taipei on November 24.

But from what the actor tells Life!, he did not have to do too much acting of his own - not for that particular scene anyway.

With a chuckle, the 28-year-old says over the telephone from Taipei in his signature deep voice: "I actually had no idea that Rhydian's character would be kissing my character in that scene until it happened. The director likes to give us different scripts and keep us in the dark about a lot of the details, so that we would be surprised and the emotions that we show would then be more authentic.

"Looks like it worked, somehow."

As it happens, the film's director Yang Ya-che also received a Golden Horse nomination for Best Director. His film Gf*Bf ties with mainland Chinese drama Mystery (2012) for the most number of nominations with seven each, including for Best Film.

Gf*Bf, which is showing in cinemas, is about a love triangle between three high school friends which evolves over three decades. It also stars actress Kwai Lun-mei.

The Best Actor nod is the third Golden Horse nomination for Chang, whose portrayal of a rebellious, boorish student in drama Eternal Summer (2006) earned him nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best New Performer.

Then, he had lost the respective awards to Hong Kong actor Ian Gouw, 15, who played the suffering son of a gambler father in After This Our Exile, and Taiwanese actor Bryant Chang, 27, who was his co-star in the same movie playing a studious student. This year, Chang is up against four Hong Kong actors: Nick Cheung for Nightfall, Lau Ching Wan for Life Without Principle, Chapman To for Vulgaria and Nicholas Tse for The Viral Factor.

Sounding diplomatic like most celebrities, he says he has not been thinking much about his latest nomination, even if he is the only Taiwanese actor to make the cut.

"I am flattered just to be nominated, and I don't think too much about the awards. To be nominated is already a sign that my performance is being appreciated, so that's good enough.

"Just to be in the same category as all these other excellent actors makes me very happy already."

Getting the chance to be a part of Gf*Bf "is rewarding enough", he adds.

Part of the reason why he feels "very proud" of the work is that the film is one of the most collaborative projects he has worked on, says the actor who counts romantic comedy flick Au Revoir Taipei (2010) and hit TV idol drama While We Were Drunk (2011) among his acting credits.

"I really think the main cast and the director just shared the best chemistry in Gf*Bf. The director always asked us for input, and we offered a lot of suggestions as well, for how our characters should act or feel, and he would really put them in and change his script. I'd actually be more hopeful and happy if the film won the award for Best Film because it really is a product of a great team effort."

The movie also allowed him to try new experiences - one of which was the "the freedom of running naked". In the movie, his character has to run naked alongside his swimming teammates on an outdoor running track, after female classmates played a prank on him.

He has only a small textbook to use to try covering his private parts. Chang recalls the scene with a laugh: "As a guy, I have had many bets with my guy friends before, to run in the buff if we lose certain games, but in the end, we always chicken out.

"But because the movie required me to run naked this time, I can finally say that I've done it for real. It was very liberating and the experience made us all very excited. Not that I would really want to do it again, though. One time is enough to give me bragging rights."

Asked if he has ever been caught in a love triangle like his character, Chang, who is reportedly in a long-term relationship with a woman who is not in show business, replies frankly that he has, many years ago.

He says: "In middle school, me and my guy friend were interested in the same girl. But we made it clear from the start that it was fair game - whoever won over the girl got the girl, and the other one had to back off. It's too bad that I lost in that round, and my friend got together with her in the end."

Did the hunk simply let his friend win?

With a laugh, Chang replies: "No, the girl was not interested in me at all. I used to be quite the rebel, always getting into arguments with other classmates, so I think I wasn't necessarily her type. But it's OK - it all makes for some fun memories."


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