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‘A very nice man’: how Godfrey Gao made it to the top | Film

Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao was well-known for being the first Asian worldwide supermodel however he was rather more than only a fairly face – he had a fame for being one in all the friendliest stars in an intensely aggressive trade.

“He was identified for being a very nice man,” says Cecilia Pidgeon, a former superstar editor at GQ China. “He had a very good fame amongst different actors. He was all the time nice to his followers. All of the colleagues he labored with solely had good issues to say.”

His stunning demise at the age of 35 yesterday from a coronary heart assault on the set of the actuality TV present Chase Me reduce brief a profession that included a task in 2013 as Magnus Bane in the Hollywood adaption of The Mortal Devices: Metropolis of Bones.

Born Tsao Chih-hsiang in Taipei, Taiwan, Gao moved to Vancouver in Canada as a baby and have become the first Asian mannequin to star in a Louis Vuitton marketing campaign in 2011.

After returning to his dwelling nation in 2004, he grew to become a part of a brand new era of actors, who had been born in Asia and moved again to set up their careers after emigrating overseas with their households. Together with Gao, Shawn Dou, a Chinese language-Canadian actor who was born in Xi’an, and Eddie Peng, a Taiwanese-Canadian actor and singer from Penghu, have additionally achieved fame by returning to Asia.

“Due to the success of the mainland Chinese language movie trade, all of them determined to return to Asia to begin their profession there,” says Dr Ruby Cheung, lecturer in movie research at Southampton College. “For Chinese language, Taiwan or Hong Kong-born actors who’ve emigrated, there are extra alternatives there for them to turn into actually large. In the event that they began out in Hollywood, they might have to work extraordinarily exhausting to obtain the identical degree of stardom.”





Gao in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, in 2013.



Gao in The Mortal Devices: Metropolis of Bones, in 2013. {Photograph}: Sony Photos Leisure/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

Gao began performing in Chinese language TV reveals in 2006, however his hottest function got here in Remembering Lichuan, a romantic drama that aired in 2016. By then he had already moved into movies with roles in Chinese language blockbuster Shanghai Fortress and as the character of Ken in Toy Story three for the Mandarin dub.

Transitioning from TV to movie is a standard route for many Asian actors. Chinese language famous person Fan Bingbing, Pink Cliff’s Vicki Zhao and Liu Yifei, who will take the lead in the upcoming stay motion adaptation of Disney’s Mulan, all grew to become large stars in China this manner.

It’s additionally very widespread for the Asian performing world to look to the modelling trade for brand new expertise. Hu Bing, who was nominated for finest actor at the 2010 Rome movie competition, is one in all China’s most well-known fashions, whereas Taiwanese star Lin Chi-ling additionally began out on the runway.

However in the previous few years, actuality TV reveals have emerged as one in all the best methods to acquire instantaneous stardom. I Am a Singer, The Rap of China, Idol Producer and The Voice of China are all wildly fashionable and have produced in a single day sensations. Then there’s Chase Me, the aggressive sports activities problem present broadcast on China’s Zhejiang Tv, that Gao agreed to visitor star on.

The actor is reported to have collapsed whereas on Chase Me’s set in Ningbo, China, after working for 17 hours straight. In accordance to Pidgeon, lengthy working hours are extraordinarily widespread in the Chinese language TV and movie trade. “It’s regular as a result of it’s a very aggressive trade. You may get well-known very rapidly. So everybody works additional hours to end a present quick. All these actors make some huge cash however truly they work actually exhausting. Working in a single day is regular.”

China, in fact, is now turning into a serious participant in Hollywood too, with an rising quantity of funding from Chinese language corporations. This implies there’s potential for extra crossover artists like Gao, who appeared alongside Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower in The Mortal Devices: Metropolis of Bones.

The actor was not only a rising star with a profession that was probably to take him to giddier heights but in addition a trailblazer for range and Asian illustration in US films. It’s an actual tragedy that such expertise was introduced again to earth so cruelly.

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