Altering the Script

After a while, a group of bodyguards surrounded a man protectively and pushed their way out of the crowd of paparazzi. The reporters were quickly stopped outside.

“Try to get closer to Xie Yan, this is better publicity than you filming a few more popular dramas.” Liu jie whispered in her ear, arms crossed.

Su Shen turned and looked at her, but didn’t speak. The entertainment industry was always like this. Taking advantage of anything for more popularity was already the norm.

By this time, most of the film crew had already arrived. The assistant director called everyone to go burn incense on the altar. Su Shen followed them in to burn incense, but her status meant she was relegated to the corner of the third row.

After burning the incense, everybody entered the film set and changed into their costumes. But, a few of the more popular actors were stopped outside by reporters for interviews.

All the main characters had their own dressing rooms. Someone of low popularity like Su Shen had to share a dressing room with two other actresses, but she didn’t really mind.

“I have to leave soon, I’ve already told Xiao Zhou to take your luggage over to the hotel. Study the script here properly, and learn from your seniors’ performing experiences. There’s a variety show filming in ten days, I’ll come pick you up and take you to the rehearsal.” Liu jie talked for a while, then checked the time again and patted her on the shoulder, “I’m leaving now, take care.”

Su Shen waved her hand in acknowledgement, and Liu jie walked out of the dressing room, heels clicking against the floor with each step.

There was another actress in the dressing room getting her makeup done, but she was a rookie. Su Shen wondered how she got her role.

“You’re Su Shen, right? I watched your drama, Half Time Half Sugar. Are you close with Luo Han? My cousin really likes him, do you have a signed photo of him?” The actress asked while still getting her makeup done.

There was still a makeup artist working on Su Shen, so she couldn’t move around. She did her best to look in that actress’s direction, “He’s always generous to fans. If you want a signed photo, he would mail one to your cousin.”

Luo Han was the male lead that acted with her in the school drama, but he was very handsome and good at acting, so his popularity rose fast. In this industry, it was always easier for male stars to gain popularity compared to their female counterparts, because the fans were mostly girls. His fame had already exceeded just the web drama circle.

“You understood him that well?” The actress raised her brows as she gossiped.

Su Shen answered rather helplessly, “We aren’t that close.”

Because of the original Su Shen’s personality, her relationship with Luo Han was always limited to being acquaintances.

Any time women gathered together, they were prone to gossip, and since none of them were very famous they didn’t have any clashes of interest. Soon, Su Shen and the actress started chatting happily.

The actress was called Tong Le and was a student at the Central Academy of Drama. Her professor had recommended her to the film crew, otherwise without some connections, she wouldn’t have gotten in.

After Su Shen’s makeup was done, it was Tong Le’s turn. After the makeup artist was done, she couldn’t resist exclaiming, “You young girls have such soft skin. Sure enough, being young is good.”

The girl in the mirror had drawn on long, beautiful willow shaped eyebrows. Her fair skin had minimal foundation and her lipstick was very faint. Combined with the brown cross collared hanfu* she was wearing, she looked just like a seventeen or eighteen year old country girl.


Su Shen’s character was just a peasant girl in the beginning and was the childhood friend* of the male lead. The male lead liked her, but sadly he later joined the army. Then, a local tyrant developed an interest in her. The girl’s parents were murdered by the tyrant, but she was saved by the Prime Minister, who had coincidentally passed by. The Prime Minister saw her beauty and planned to nurture her to enter the palace and entice the Emperor.

childhood friend but the phrase means green plum bamboo horse literally and generally implies the meaning of childhood sweetheart

It was a time of warfare, and although she did not want to enter the palace, the Prime Minister used her only little brother to threaten her. She had no choice but to enter the palace. At this time, the male lead was already at the frontier and had developed chemistry with the female lead, who was cross-dressing as a man. When he returned victorious, with fame and honour, she was already gone. He thought the third female supporting character was dead, and so started a relationship with the female lead.

Who knew that when he returned to the Capital, he discovered she had already become the Emperor’s favoured concubine. He immediately decided to cut ties with her, but she could not forget him. This caused her to repeatedly attempt to sabotage the female lead which caused the male lead to dislike her more and more. In the end, naturally, she died.

“Yeah, Su Shen your face is so suitable for historical attire. Even though your character isn’t very likable, if your visuals are good, you’ll still attract fans.” Tong Le’s mouth didn’t stop talking even as she closed her eyes for the makeup artist to apply eyeshadow.

Su Shen smiled and sat there reading the script, saying nothing.

Then, the makeup artist who rarely spoke suddenly said, “Doesn’t Su Shen have quite a few scenes with Xie Yan? If people end up shipping you two as a cp*, it’s good for your popularity as well.”

cp – chinese slang for couple or “ship”, two characters or actors or people that the netizens enjoy seeing as a couple or believe should date

“Yes, yes, yes! Ahhh! I love Xie Yan, especially his special forces soldier character, oh my god, so handsome!” Tong Le shuddered with excitement, almost making the makeup artist draw her eyeliner on crooked.

Su Shen didn’t know what to say in reply. She recalled the photos of Xie Yan that she had seen online and only felt that the world was full of strange coincidences.

This Xie Yan looked exactly like the Crown Prince from her past life.

However, Su Shen didn’t really mind. The world was full of people that looked alike and she wasn’t particularly interested in that Crown Prince.

Some people said that Xie Yan was the most handsome out of all the Film Emperors*, the best at acting out of all the popular* actors, and the most popular out of all the talented stars. He had been in the industry for eight years and had no scandals or dating rumours. If any started, his studio would immediately issue a statement to clarify, never dragging things along. He never gave actresses and female idols the chance to promote themselves through spreading rumours of a relationship with him, which pleased most of his female fans.

Film Emperor – award winning actor (generally, winning award for “Best Actor” at a prestigious award ceremony means you can be called a Film Emperor)

popular – The phrase used is “liu liang” which means stars or idols that attract more internet traffic, such as more views or likes

“There’s still such a long time, you’ll get the opportunity to meet him.” Su Shen smiled as she picked up the script and got ready to leave the dressing room.

Tong Le, still getting her makeup done, replied excitedly, “Yes, yes, yes, as long as I can take a picture with him, I’ll be satisfied!”

The entertainment industry had clear, segregated levels, and some pictures were not so easy to take. When Su Shen walked out of the dressing room, the set crew were still checking the film props and equipments, while the director sat in front of the monitor discussing the scene about to be filmed with an experienced old actor*. Su Shen recognised the actor as the one who would be acting as her father, so she took her script and walked over.

an experienced old actor – the phrase used is “lao xi gu”, which literally means old bone, and means an experienced, brilliant, masterful actor or actress, normally with a lot of experience

“Hello, Yuan lao shi*.” She smiled and nodded towards him.

lao shi – term of respect for a senior in the same field, literal translation is “teacher”

“Su Shen, I’ve watched Yuan lao shis acting frequently. A rookie like me doesn’t have a lot of experience, if there’s something off with my acting, please tell me.” Su Shen’s smile was very sweet and she looked very polite.

The rookies nowadays were generally flighty and impatient. It was very rare to see such a humble rookie. Naturally, Yuan Zhenhua smiled kindly and replied, “As long as xiao gu niang* doesn’t find me annoying.”

xiao gu niang – a young girl, expresses closeness, generally an elder uses this term

“Come, come, come, Su Shen you came just at the right time.” Director Huang beckoned to her, then looked up at Yuan Zhenhua, “There’s a slapping scene later, I calculated the camera angles, and I think a real slap will have a better effect. Su Shen, are you okay with that?”

Yuan Zhenhua was unwilling, “Director Huang, look at how tender xiao gu niang’s face is, I can’t bear to hit her.”

Although Yuan Zhenhua wasn’t very famous, he had participated in many productions and had his connections in the entertainment industry, so he talked freely and without concern to the Director.

Su Shen paused for a second, then smiled slightly, “Thank you Yuan lao shi. It’s okay, you can actually hit me. I’m actually quite tough.”

After she spoke, Director Huang’s expression toward her was more pleased. Although her acting skills were not good, at least she was quite dedicated. Hopefully with some good teaching, her acting skills could improve as well.

“Okay then, the scene we’re going to film is like this, Su Shen, after you rush through the doorway…”

“This script is wrong.”

A deep, magnetic voice suddenly cut off the Director’s instructions. Su Shen turned to see who it was and found herself looking right at a face that was familiar, yet strange. His features were chiseled, well defined, and it could be because of the makeup, but his brows seemed intimidating. Su Shen took a glance, then calmly looked back down at her script.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you about that.” As soon as he saw it was Xie Yan, the Director smiled and explained, “The scriptwriter changed two scenes later on to contribute to the storyline. After all, even though this film focuses on the male characters, the romance is also important.”

“Director Huang, the contract already included this, our Yan ge* refuses to film anything this revealing*, and the lines are too explicit.” The male assistant next to Xie Yan said seriously.

ge – the male version of jie, term of respect for males older than you

revealing – such as intimate scenes (basically anything not PG)

“It’s just a bit of acting, Fan Meng’s a girl and she didn’t even say anything about it. It’s just a gimmick. We’ll put it in a trailer and I’ll tell the editor to cut it out of the official film.” Director Huang didn’t seem to think there was a problem.

Xie Yan seemed to have just changed into his costume. Although it was only a simple commoner outfit, on him it was still very handsome. This was probably what a face made for the male lead meant.

He stood there silently, but the male assistant continued to argue with the Director. “Isn’t there already two kiss scenes? Isn’t that enough for a gimmick? Alright, if it’s like this, I’ll let Hua ge talk to you about it.”

Normally very few artist assistants dared to speak to the Director like that, but Director Huang didn’t get angry. He only waved his hand and told him not to make the call yet, “Don’t get so agitated, we can discuss this scene later. The script is written like that but when we actually get to it, we can just do a general sweep of it with the cameras.”

The male assistant saw that the Director was willing to compromise, so he put his phone away and then turned to leave with Xie Yan.

“Wait a sec.” The Director stopped him, then pointed at Su Shen and said, “This is Su Shen, there’s a scene with the two of you together today, you can do a run-through together first.”

When he finished talking, a problem came up with the film props crew, and the Director had to put down the script and go deal with it. 

Su Shen turned around and nodded lightly, “Hello Xie lao shi.”

The girl in front of him seemed to only be eighteen or nineteen. Her black inky hair was half down and spread behind her head. Her gaze was calm and clear, her delicate facial features combined together emanated a sense of purity. Xie Yan took a glance and then looked away, “I’m not that old.”

Then, he took his script and walked toward his dressing room. Su Shen didn’t know if he was going to do a run-through of the script with her, but she still followed fast behind him.

When she followed Xie Yan into the dressing room, he was leaning against the sofa drinking water. He didn’t seem to expect her to follow him, and he frowned, then said indifferently, “You can find an assistant and run-through it with them.”

The male assistant looked at Su Shen, amused. Did this rookie not know anything, or was she pretending to not know on purpose? If their Yan ge went around running through the script with actresses, he’d already have countless dating rumours flying everywhere.

Su Shen paused, then nodded, “Okay, Xie lao shi.”

The male assistant almost laughed out loud, but Su Shen remained serious as she walked out of the dressing room. She didn’t do it on purpose, it was just that the term lao shi was the most courteous. If she called him something else, since they weren’t close, people would think she was trying to ride his coattails.

As soon as she left, the male assistant couldn’t stop himself from leaning on the table and laughing to Xie Yan: “I’ve seen this Su Shen’s acting. My god, it was so gui chu*. She may look pretty, but her acting skills are so bad they can make the audience despair!”

鬼畜 [guǐ chù]: Ghost+beast. To inflict suffering. Originally an ACG term, this neologism often refers to a video editing technique that pieces together dialogue and background music for humorous value. Some sounds are looped at a high speed, which might cause discomfort.

Previous | Index | Next