Red Star

Once a pig farmer, now a national beauty

Ge You

Once a pig farmer, now a national beauty

One of China’s most distinguished actors, Ge You, 54, never went to acting school. Until 1978, he was a pig farmer in Beijing and it was his unlikely role in a short skit on pig breeding that brought him to the attention of China’s National Drama Troupe. Ge then started performing in propaganda operas and stage plays before finally venturing into film work in the late 1980s.

His breakthrough came in 1989, when he starred in Teng Wenji’s drama The Ballad of Yellow River. His performance won the Best Supporting Actor gong at the prestigious Golden Rooster Awards.

Why is he famous?

Ge is best known for his work in critically acclaimed films like Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine and Zhang Yimou’s To Live. The latter won him the best-actor prize at the Cannes festival in 1993, and he remains the only mainland Chinese actor to do so.

Ge’s likability also wins audiences over, especially in blockbuster films like Let the Bullets Fly and the If You Are the One series.

Why is he in the news?

The Beijing News surprised everyone by naming Ge as top of China’s 50 Most Beautiful People List last month (at least, WiC says it’s surprising because Ge is not the conventionally good-looking type that normally features on this type of list). But the newspaper claims that the award is not only judged on physical looks but also on the actor’s career achievements, personal development and charity work.

Ge has also been ready to joke about his new status. “I think this [award] is more for my inner beauty,” he said at the award ceremony last week, to laughter. “I’m wondering if I can someday find a balance between my inner beauty and my looks.”

Despite his popularity, Ge usually tries to keep a low profile. He rarely accepts interviews and refuses to appear on entertainment shows. He also says he doesn’t aspire to movie star status but would rather be known just as an actor.

“An actor is like a worker, you do your job and go home.”

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