The Actor Extraordinaire

By Man Man He Qi Duo,漫漫何其多

The Actor Extraordinaire Chapter 1

The Actor Extraordinaire Chapter 1

Chapter 1.

Chapter 1.

"It was me who violated the agreement in the first place, I'm ready to accept any punishment from the company."

"Geng-ge1… I'm the one at fault this time." Jiang Chi inhaled a mouthful of smoke, putting the cigarette butt back in the ashtray, his voice lowered, "After I pay compensation for the company, you will definitely be paid your part too."

1

Geng Tian was bombarded with the news the moment he stepped off the plane in the evening; superiors after superiors called him to the company for a scolding. With anger still balled up inside, he skipped dinner to rush to Jiang Chi's house. But he didn't get to let out his temper as the younger took the blame unconditionally.

"I, I don't care about that." It didn't sound genuine at all. Geng Tian was just angry that Jiang Chi had jeopardized the elder's career with his decision, but he felt at ease once realizing that the younger had no intention to betray him. His voice turned ambiguous, "Ask yourself this, don't you think you've crossed the line this time? You even hid things from me - your own manager, did you really think this wouldn't worry our all-knowing higher-ups? What were you going to do?"

At being reminded of the film that Jiang Chi agreed to behind his back, Geng Tian's anger flared again. He said coldly, "And it's not because you do this for free! You think the company cares more about money?!  The whole studio has already planned out your career path! And you? Not only did you agree to a new film without telling anyone, the genre is, is…"

Geng Tian found himself unable to form words the more he thought about it.

A few months ago, Jiang Chi secretly auditioned for a film.

The project was not of the obscure type, with the crew made of the top-tier individuals in the industry from the production team to the director and screenwriter. It starred two male leads, in which Jiang Chi was the secondary.

It had been over a year since Jiang Chi's career breakthrough, but he had yet to touch the silver screen. In the recent six months, Geng Tian had always been on the lookout for a potential project. Playing the main role was too much of a pipe dream, it was enough for his artist to simply appear on the big screen.

Now he had it: his artist now co-led in a big, highly anticipated project with an esteemed director. They really struck gold with this one—too bad it was a gay film.

To be able to join this filming crew, Jiang Chi didn't get paid a dime.

Now that one of the company's breadwinners would make no profit in at least six months, everyone in Jiang Chi's managing team was about to explode.

"And we've saved up for an opportunity for the entire last year! Even if we ignore the compensation, you've angered the company too! Is this worth it to you?" Geng Tian was extremely disappointed, "You haven't even blown up for a full year yet! This is a very crucial time period, and yet you chose to waste half a year on this one film that won't be screened at all! What is actually inside your head…"

"But didn't you tell me that I have to pick a movie that will please the fans?" Jiang Chi remained calm. "This one is fit for gaining fame, right?"

"Don't use my words against me!" Geng Tian blurted out, "I know you're doing this because Ye Lan is the main lead! Do you think you can fool me?"

Jiang Chi was started, embarrassment evident in his eyes. He turned away and coughed, unconsciously pulling out a new cigarette.

Geng Tian regretted saying that the moment words came out of his mouth, but he took advantage of this to change to another topic, continuing in discontent, "I was just about to ask, why do you start smoking too?"

"The role requires it." Jiang Chi lit the cigarette, inhaled the smoke then choked on it, "I'll… I'll stop once we finish filming."

Geng Tian frowned. "Be mindful of where you do it, don't let any camera catch you in the act. It isn't time for you to change your image."

"Got it." Jiang Chi nodded and continued smoking, brows creased.

Jiang Chi wasn't fully twenty-three yet, his features still retaining some youthful innocence. The sight of him sitting on the sofa learning to smoke was somewhat unbearable to look at. After thinking about the company's punishment, Geng Tian softened; he sat down and sighed. "Your injury during the last filming made everyone worried, so you were given three months of rest; who could ever expect you to do this tomfoolery behind our back… Forget it, how's things over there? I heard Ren Haichuan is a tough nut to crack."

"Not at all, director Ren is very good to me." Jiang Chi smiled, knowing that he had passed the test, "I've learned a lot from him in the past month."

"Then…" Geng Tian hesitated, "What about Ye Lan, you and him…"

Jiang Chi flicked the burnt ashes away, clearing his throat and replying slowly, "He's also very nice, he's super polite to me."

Geng Tian fell silent, automatically translating Jiang Chi's words as: Though filming began a month ago, Jiang Chi had yet to befriend the movie king.

He might be angry at Jiang Chi for acting without permission, but at that answer, he also felt sympathetic. The young man had spent so much money and time just to get closer to Ye Lan, but it seemed like the latter had no interest in returning the sentiment.

How else could the 'polite' treatment be explained after they had been with each other for that long?

But it's not something surprising.

After all, he was an actor extraordinaire.

Ye Lan was professionally trained and made his name at a very young age. He had his first role during the third year of university, and before graduation he had already won two prestigious awards for actors thanks to his dashing appearance and incredible acting skill. He graduated with two shiny trophies, his future career starting with a bang. Post-graduate, he became the hottest actor and took the silver screen by storm for ten years.

In recent times, whether they were resources for commercial or feature works, Ye Lan would always have the best picks to choose from. He walked his path steadily with well-deserved fame and admiration.

As for Jiang Chi, well.

Graduated for two years, started his career four years ago, had been in over twenty television dramas, starred as main lead in three of them. Those three were mostly flops, so the company didn't have high hopes for him at first. But then he blew up after a Minguo2 period drama in which he played a minor role; his villain character unexpectedly became a fan favorite. He got more popular after that, and there was even a time when his fame completely dwarfed that of most of the fresh meats in the industry. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he agreed to film a season of a reality show and gathered more fans due to his charming nature, making his way into the A-list.

2

Indeed he was popular, but everyone knew that to top-tier veterans like Ye Lan, he was not worth a glance.

They were simply not on the same level.

On top of the no-salary agreement, had it not been for the fact that Jiang Chi was also formally trained and didn't fear hardship, he would have never been able to join the same project with Ye Lan even if he contributed his own money to it.

Jiang Chi himself knew this all too well.

"I honestly had no hope at first." Jiang Chi laughed, maintaining positivity, "How could I ever dream of that… But when I heard that there was a chance, I knew I would regret it if I hadn't at least tried. Besides, I'm gonna learn a lot from this, so it's not an entire waste, and…"

He would be able to stay by Ye Lan's side day by day. The latter might be uninterested in being friends, but at least he would look at him during filming.

He filmed mostly conflict scenes in the last month, which were mostly outdoors and one-man shows so they were not together often. But in the later months there would be a "honeymoon" to film; Jiang Chi had memorized every single line of his, even that of Ye Lan. Every time he imagined Ye Lan saying sweet words to him, he felt like the all compensation was worth it.

Jiang Chi's blushing face saddened Geng Tian, so he wrung his hands, "Forget about it, I'll talk to the company for you, you just send me the filming schedule so that…"

Jiang Chi turned serious. "Geng-ge, director Ren won't let me do several projects at the same time. I myself won't agree to it, either."

Geng Tian grumble, "Alright alright, I'm just trying to make back… Do you have to film tomorrow?"

Jiang Chi nodded, "Yeah."


"One outdoor scene, one night scene, if the old man finds a single slightest fault then I'll have to do it again for another day." In the banquet room, Ye Lan's eyes were already red. He scoffed, refusing the next glass of wine given to him. "I have to film tomorrow and only join this out of respect for you… And you dare make me drink more."

Everyone laughed, and an acquainted actress smiled at him, "Sorry, we wouldn't have done that if we had known. Blame Yu Xinyue, what a bad host for not telling us anything."

Ye Lan was handsome, but his features were even more alluring when he got drunk; everyone's eyes were on him. One of the actresses couldn't help but pour a glass of water and give it to him. He raised his eyebrows at that, took the glass and smiled, raising it at her, "In your honor."

The girl immediately blushed.

The one who gave Ye Lan more wine was Yu Xinyue, he was in the industry a few years before Ye Lan and was given several awards. They had collaborated a few times and had a decent relationship. At hearing Ye Lan's response, Yu Xinyue downed his glass in one shot, leaning onto his friend, "What are you filming tomorrow? Still the gay one?"

"Yup." Ye Lan rubbed his brows, "You're lucky I don't have any scene in the morning… Ren Haichuan is gonna chew me out if I show up reeked of alcohol tomorrow."

Yu Xinyue had drunk a lot himself, he kneaded his face, trying to remember something, "How long has it been? Over a month?"

"Nearly two months now." The flickering light in the room overwhelmed Ye Lan, he narrowed his eyes, "We have around four to five months left…"

Yu Xinyue's eyebrows raised, "I thought it's low-scale, low-budget? Why does it take so long?"

There was a hint of complacency in Ye Lan's eyes, his voice softening, "We're submitting this for awards, how can we film this in two, three months?"

Yu Xinyue smiled, "Ooh, scary."

"Oh! That boy who stars with you, he's Jiang Chi right," Yu Xinyue asked, "How is he?"

"He's nice." Ye Lan said.

Yu Xinyue mocked, "A fresh meat though…"

"Not at all." Ye Lan shook his head, "He's not the type to get a big head after a few praises. Got a good personality too, very modest, performance is okay, even old Ren Haichuan has taken a liking to him, saying that he has good ethics…"

"Alright alright… Did you have way too many interviews lately? Why are you talking to me in that tone?" Yu Xinyue lowered his voice, "A few days before I heard that the boy's contract with his current company will end next year. I should ask him about it, if the time his right I'd like him to work under me."

A few years ago, Yu Xinyue and his old employer created a joint venture and opened Time Media, operating at a moderate pace. Their resources got better recently, and a bunch of artists had signed under them in just last year.

"There's nothing bad about him," Ye Lan replied, "You can visit the studio to see for yourself."

Yu Xinyue laughed, "Is watching through the screen not enough, I have to see him face to face now? I'm just asking around, you know this old man can't handle the feisty type anymore."

"Nope, not feisty at all." Ye Lan's eyes narrowed as he pondered, "Good character, alright face, the type that can't even get ugly even if he tries; making profit with all that is no problem. As for body…"

It was unclear what Ye Lan was thinking about, but his lips curled at that.

"Oh my." Yu Xinyue gave Ye Lan a smoke and lit one for himself, his smile very telling, "Rarely do I see you approve of an actor's physique, how is he?"

Ye Lan inhaled, biting the filter head slightly. "Very perky ass."

Yu Xinyue's let out a low laugh. "Is that alright, Mr. Ye? Is our entertainment god only staring at a fresh meat's ass nowadays?"

"It's what the film requires." Ye Lan leaned on the sofa lazily. "You should sign with him so I can stare at it every day."

Yu Xinyue glanced at his friend, "Really now? Liking the boy that much?"

Ye Lan released a puff of smoke, smiling, "It's nothing special, we're not that close."

Yu Xinyue thought so. Seeing Ye Lan leaning back on the sofa with his eyes closed, he knew that his friend was already drunk. He looked at the time. "You have filming to do tomorrow right? You should leave then, let me take you home."

"No need." Ye Lan opened his eyes. "I'm gonna call Old Jin."

Yu Xinyue gave up the idea. He considered himself to be on good terms with Ye Lan, but that's just how his friend was—he would never get on a stranger's car after drinking, even if it was Yu Xinyue's.

Ye Lan might seem easy-going and friendly with everyone in the industry, but he drew a clear line at certain matters. Friendship was just part of work, and no matter how nice things looked on the outside, when it came to his personal life they would never have a place. Despite knowing him for years, Yu Xinyue had no idea where Ye Lan lived.

Ye Lan ruffled his own hair, picking up the phone with hazy eyes. He opened his contacts, sliding to the list of names that began with J, trying his best to send the text: Pick me up, I'm at Golden Times.

Pick me up, I'm at Golden Times

He threw the phone aside, laughing while everyone cheered him on, "Alright, let papa sing one last song."

papa

At the same time in Jiang Chi's house, Geng Tian stood up. "I didn't know you were filming so I couldn't get you an assistant, I'm gonna talk to the company tomorrow…"

"There's no need," Jiang Chi immediately shook his head, "Just Xiao-Li is fine for me, having more won't help with anything. Even Ye Lan only brings two assistants, what will others think if I have a whole entourage with me."

Geng Tian mulled over it and sighed. "Okay, looks like you've got what you wish for. I'm gonna let other matters slide, so you just focus on filming for now, and later…"

Later, when the film wrapped up, it would be near impossible for you to meet Ye Lan again.

Later, when the film wrapped up, it would be near impossible for you to meet Ye Lan again

Geng Tian didn't say the last part out loud. He was about to leave when Jiang Chi's phone rang.

The phone was on the table, its screen lit up after vibrating:

Pick me up, I'm at Golden Times.

Pick me up, I'm at Golden Times

Footnotes.

1 哥 (gē), used to address an elder brother or an older man of close relation.

1

2 A period in mainland China that was between 1912 and 1949.

2

Translator’s notes.

Translator’s notes.

So this happened, I have no self-control at all ?  This might be just a teaser, depending on how much free time I have I’ll decide whether to pick it up later. This story is very lighthearted and full of comedy, I hope you’ll enjoy it!