“Fashion shows are always fun because they mean
I have a break from filming.”
great wall actor and longines ambassador eddie peng interview exclusive 600x600

Eddie Peng Yu-yan has become the most sought-after leading male actor of his generation, and it’s about time. For a while the Chinese movie industry has struggled to produce a star who inspires as much box-office confidence as Andy Lau or Chow Yun-fat. We were beginning to think that the Chinese movie stars of the 80s were going to have to continue carrying the weight of the industry well into the next decade, but thankfully Peng has risen to the occasion.

His stardom didn’t just happen overnight, though. It has taken almost 11 years for the once fledging actor to grow into the mature, ripped, handsome actor with a comprehensive resume of today. The media, however, still prefers to call him ‘xiao xian rou’, which roughly translates as ‘fresh meat’, a phrase that includes all the innuendo you might think. Peng joked in a recent interview that he ‘really isn’t that young and fresh any more’; he’s a 34-year-old at the peak of his career who has worked hard to shed his boy-next-door persona.

He’s shown commitment, grit and endurance in physically demanding and transformative films like 2011’s Jump Ashin! and 2013’s Unbeatable, the way Christian Bale or Hugh Jackman would. He’s shown that he can hold his own opposite veteran thespians like Tony Leung Ka-fai in 2012’s Cold War and this year’s Cold War II. And he’s shown that he can play one of the most iconic martial arts heroes in Chinese history, Wong Fei-hung, in 2014’s Rise of a Legend, a role that earned him his first Best Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

There’s no slowing Peng’s current career trajectory. His most recent action thriller, Operation Mekong, dominated Chinese box offices for three consecutive weeks, and later this year he will be featured in the highly anticipated Zhang Yimou production The Great Wall.

Peng’s combination of talent and sex appeal makes him as natural a fit for the pages of fashion magazines and the front rows of fashion weeks as it does for the screen. The young star has become as well known as a fashion icon as he has for acting, and is a spokesperson for luxury labels like Hugo Boss and Longines. Peng sat down with Fashion Statement to reflect on his career and what it’s like being the Chinese-speaking world’s leading dapper gent.

Eddie Peng Yu-yan has become the most sought-after leading male actor of his generation, and it’s about time. For a while the Chinese movie industry has struggled to produce a star who inspires as much box-office confidence as Andy Lau or Chow Yun-fat. We were beginning to think that the Chinese movie stars of the 80s were going to have to continue carrying the weight of the industry well into the next decade, but thankfully Peng has risen to the occasion.

His stardom didn’t just happen overnight, though. It has taken almost 11 years for the once fledging actor to grow into the mature, ripped, handsome actor with a comprehensive resume of today. The media, however, still prefers to call him ‘xiao xian rou’, which roughly translates as ‘fresh meat’, a phrase that includes all the innuendo you might think. Peng joked in a recent interview that he ‘really isn’t that young and fresh any more’; he’s a 34-year-old at the peak of his career who has worked hard to shed his boy-next-door persona.

great wall actor and longines ambassador eddie peng interview exclusive 600x600

He’s shown commitment, grit and endurance in physically demanding and transformative films like 2011’s Jump Ashin! and 2013’s Unbeatable, the way Christian Bale or Hugh Jackman would. He’s shown that he can hold his own opposite veteran thespians like Tony Leung Ka-fai in 2012’s Cold War and this year’s Cold War II. And he’s shown that he can play one of the most iconic martial arts heroes in Chinese history, Wong Fei-hung, in 2014’s Rise of a Legend, a role that earned him his first Best Actor nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

There’s no slowing Peng’s current career trajectory. His most recent action thriller, Operation Mekong, dominated Chinese box offices for three consecutive weeks, and later this year he will be featured in the highly anticipated Zhang Yimou production The Great Wall.
Peng’s combination of talent and sex appeal makes him as natural a fit for the pages of fashion magazines and the front rows of fashion weeks as it does for the screen. The young star has become as well known as a fashion icon as he has for acting, and is a spokesperson for luxury labels like Hugo Boss and Longines. Peng sat down with Fashion Statement to reflect on his career and what it’s like being the Chinese-speaking world’s leading dapper gent.

“It was like a family reunion!
He’s become almost like a father to me.”
Q
How do you think your career has evolved since you first started?
A
I am being given more opportunities to try different roles now. Even though I have been acting for a bit over 10 years already, I still feel like there is so much to learn. With each production the director, the cast and production team teach me something new. I probably appreciate the whole filmmaking process more now than I ever did before.
Q
You are already starring in a whopping six films this year. What type of roles would you like to pursue more?
A
That’s a difficult one because I’ve never looked at my work that way. I just look forward to developing my skills as an actor. Even if I had to play similar types of roles, the challenge would be to bring something fresh to them. I think that’s what appeals to me. Cold War II, Call of Heroes, Operation Mekong and The Great Wall are all technically action films, but I think I bring something different to each.
Q
Speaking of Cold War II, what was it like working with Tony Leung yet again? You seem to be perfect partners in crime.
A
It was like a family reunion! He’s become almost like a father to me [chuckles]. He’s been a fantastic mentor, and I’ve been very lucky to have worked with him on so many different films. He has taught me a lot. I am always so happy to work with him on a production, and then catch up again later to promote the film. He’s very cool.

On a separate note, it was great to be able to revisit the role, and I really enjoyed developing the character. I think it’s the most bad-ass role I’ve played so far.

Q
Have you ever considered directing?
A
No, not right now. I still have so much to learn as an actor. I have too much respect for all the directors I’ve worked with.
Q
You always look as dapper in real life as you do on screen. How would you define your personal style? What are some of your must-haves?
A
I tend to go for more classic, elegant lines. Nothing fussy. It’s more important that I feel comfortable with the cut and the look. Must-haves for me are my Longines watches and my Hugo Boss sunglasses, plus a simple hat or cap, in case I don’t have time to fix my hair [laughs]. Oh, and I also carry a big, calfskin leather bag from Burgundy Assemblage, designed by my sister.
Q
You’re no stranger to fashion weeks. Which shows do you like going to and what are some of your favourite brands?
A
Fashion shows are always fun because they mean I have a break from filming [chuckles]. It’s a privilege to be invited. I remember Gucci and Dior Homme shows usually. As for brands, I don’t really have favourites. I get to try a lot of different brands, so there are too many to list.
Q
Are there any style icons who inspire you?
A
I can only think ones that are no longer living like James Dean, Bruce Lee and Steve McQueen.
Q
You like to play bad boys, but what do you think are the characteristics that embody a gentleman?
A
Good manners, thoughtfulness, graciousness and being respectful.
Q
What hobbies are you focusing on nowadays? Is your fitness regimen still just as rigorous?
A
I enjoy being outdoors, so my hobbies would involve any sort of active sports like cycling or jogging. If I am working on a film that requires me to be in peak form, then yes, I maintain a pretty rigorous fitness regimen. Otherwise, it’s just routine workouts or light exercise.
Q
You once said that yo were going to get married at 35. You’re just one year away now. Will we be hearing any announcements soon?
A
Did I really say that? [laughs]
Q
Are you happy with the current trajectory of your career?
A
I couldn’t be happier. I have had the chance to work with some of the best directors in the industry, which is something I always dreamed of. Honestly, I am not a very ambitious person with a lot of goals to chase. I just want to be in the moment, and truly enjoy and appreciate what I have now.
Q
Finally, the most important question of all – boxers or briefs?
A
Briefs.

Eddie Peng is the embodiment of modern men’s fashion. If you want to dress like the dashing young star, head over to Shop The Boulevard

Shop The Boulevard
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