Singer-actor Fei Xiang, 62, underwent ‘serious physical training’ for new movie’s topless bath scene
For most of his four-decade-long career, Fei Xiang kept things modest. Not a peek of his bare torso.
But in his new movie, the Chinese period blockbuster Creation Of The Gods I: Kingdom Of Storms, the 62-year-old appears topless for a scene in a steaming bath.
The Chinese-American singer-actor, who is also known as Kris Phillips, plays the villainous King Zhou in the action-fantasy flick.
Now showing in Singapore cinemas and co-starring Chinese actors Yu Shi and Huang Bo, it is the first in a trilogy adapted from the 16th-century fantasy novel Investiture Of The Gods. The film revolves around the political and divine fallout following the chaotic ascension of Fei Xiang’s character – King Zhou, the last ruler of the Shang Dynasty.
In a suite at Marina Bay Sands hotel, where Fei Xiang was promoting the movie on Monday, he told The Straits Times that it took him 1½ years to build up his body for the talked-about Deer Terrace Pavilion scene.
It features King Zhou colluding with the consort fox spirit Su Daji (played by Russian actress Narana Erdyneeva) in a luxurious pool filled with wine, and reveals Fei Xiang’s muscular physique, which he achieved through a strict regimen that includes training such as horsemanship and martial arts.
This was not an easy task, says the veteran entertainer, who was one of the biggest music stars in China during the 1980s and a Broadway performer in the 1990s.
“We are talking biology, physiology, ageing. It is easier to get into physical shape in your 20s and 30s. I knew that would be one of my biggest challenges. I would have to undergo serious physical training, but it was not impossible.”
So his request to Creation Of The Gods’ Chinese director Wuershan was to film the bath scene last.
“I needed time to work up to it. It takes a lot of time to build muscle, it does not happen overnight. Thankfully, the director said no problem, and he arranged things that way,” says Fei Xiang.
“I think most of (my fans) are quite okay with the scene. They might have a problem if it was full-frontal nudity. But this was quite within the boundaries of what they would accept. Moreover, it was a famous scene from the source material.”
It is quite the change for Fei Xiang, who previously appeared in only two prominent Chinese films – The Monkey King 2 (2016) and Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012), in which he portrayed an evil sorcerer.
He says: “The most important thing is to have a part with strong motivation. And most of the time, the villains know what they want.”
He was attracted to Creation Of The Gods as he was impressed by its script and found King Zhou to be interesting and well-written.
“The source material is so complex and has hundreds of characters. The team spent four years to write the three films. They made all the storylines interesting and got rid of extraneous characters.”
The filming process was also very collaborative. For example, Wuershan allowed Fei Xiang to strike out 30 to 40 per cent of his lines, which the actor felt were immaterial.
“As a result, my scenes are tight and move quickly. I quite like that.”
“I would gladly star in a romance, comedy or drama. If the role is well-written, it does not even have to be the lead, I would gladly do it.”
- Creation Of The Gods I: Kingdom Of Storms is showing in cinemas.