Since its debut last month on HBO, “Adventure of the Ring” is finally reaching its finale this weekend. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen different couples come in contact with an engagement ring after Huang Yi-Zhi (played by Chris Wang) misplaces it on a train.
During his search for the ring, the baseball-loving actuary and his girlfriend of 5 years, Lisa Lee (played by Allison Lin), are forced to reexamine their relationship, love for one another, and their future moving forward.
Helmed by Nelson Yeh (“Far And Away”, “Mad King Of Taipei”) and directed by Golden Bell nominated director, Kitamura Tayoharu, “Adventure of the Ring” is based on mathematician and author Lai I-Wei’s romance novel “Ring of the Day”. Check out some interesting insights provided by the 2 main leads in the interview transcript, courtesy of Warner Media:
Q: The series is titled “Adventure of the Ring”. Chris, you and your family travelled around and lived out of a caravan. What’s it like returning to acting after a five-year hiatus?
Chris: Since my children were born, I haven’t taken on any leading roles. I’m really happy to be acting in “Adventure of the Ring”. Of course, we had to make some adjustments within the family. During the filming, my wife stepped up to take care of the children. My wife is happy (that I am taking up this role), because she enjoys watching me act.
I couldn’t sleep the night before we started filming. It has been ages since I played a lead role. Even though I’m a father now (and I’m supposed to have reached a stage of life where I’m calm about things), I still worry if I’m prepared for it and if I could perform.
I didn’t expect that my first role after my break would be such a highly strung character. Because it’s been 5 years, I put in extra effort to prepare for this role. I had to warm up and get back into action. The intensity of the process was similar to Yi-Zhi’s tense personality, so in a way, it helped me get into character.
Q: Allison, you play an air stewardess in this drama. Did you tap on your previous experience as an air stewardess to portray the role?
Allison: Of course I did. When it comes to developing the character, the most crucial aspect is how close a connection you have with the character. So I’m very lucky to have a lead time of four years to prepare for this role.
When I entered the aircraft cabin mockup, it was as if I was possessed (by an air stewardess). I became serious and started to do my routine checks. I checked if the counter surface was dry, if the galley cabinets were secure, and if the bread baskets were in place. Then I suddenly realised I could relax because I was acting.
Q: How did you research your role? Did you watch any movies, or reference any characters?
Chris: Yi-Zhi is a genius at work, a great problem solver. But he’s unpopular among his peers, and even his boss doesn’t like him. I was looking for a similar character for reference and found Benedict Cumberbatch’s genius mathematician role in the film, “The Imitation Game”. I observed the interaction between Benedict’s character and his love interest. I played the movie on a huge screen so that I could focus on the details, and watched the scenes repeatedly. About 50 to 100 times.
I also spoke with four actuaries from insurance companies. I also met with a senior engineer who’s a genius favoured by his boss but is highly unpopular among his peers. I observed his mannerisms and tried to understand his thought process through our conversations. I tend to be a bit serious when portraying the character so director Kitamura Toyoharu would steer me back on the comedic path. Through our constant communication, we finally found the perfect balance to portray my character.
Allison: Chris recommended “The Imitation Game” to me. I wanted to observe how a girl could move Benedict’s unemotional character. She’s very straightforward and it is as though she hacked into his world, causing a short circuit and igniting sparks.
I feel it’s important to get into character by fleshing out the role’s job — be it a fashion designer or air stewardess. I relived my air stewardess days by flipping through my air stewardess manual, reading out the inflight announcement, and wearing my air stewardess uniform.
Q: The drama is a romantic comedy. Was it challenging to do comedy?
Chris: It was a challenge for me because Yi-Zhi is quite different from me. It’s my first time taking on comedy. I put in a lot of effort into preparing for the role. When I started filming, I had to go through another round of adjustments because the (comedic) atmosphere was foreign to me.
Allison: Comedic acting comes easily to me. Romantic comedies are fun and relaxing, which is what I like. I could get our director Kitamura Toyoharu’s Japanese’s style of humour. Just by looking at his hand gestures, I understood what he wanted me to do.
Q: Do you have a comedic side?
Chris: I’m not really humorous, unlike our director. Our director lives and breathes humour. He can make anything funny. I want to learn comedic timing from him.
Allison: I agree. Chris is interesting, but not humorous. When I became an actress, I became more serious. But I’m a jokester. I was the funny kid in class. I would make people laugh by doing something weird. I like to see people laugh because of me.
Q: How different are you from your character?
Chris: Yi-Zhi is an unemotional, logical guy who sees the world in numbers. He’s a genius, who got accepted to actuary school on his first try. The couple’s interaction is based on logic. He later discovers the emotions hidden deep within him and that a relationship isn’t just about data. How am I different? I tell jokes and say silly things, which Yi-Zhi would deem it to be beneath him. He wouldn’t bother wasting time on jokes.
Allison: Both Lisa and I are self-sacrificing and like to serve others. These are traits that are common if you are in the service industry. Where we differ, I envy Lisa’s boldness. She’s very open to facing things head on. She speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back. On the other hand, I tend to be more cautious, considering consequences and thinking about the big picture. I envy her rebellious streak.
Q: When it comes to perspectives on love, how similar or different are you from your drama characters?
Chris: Yi-Zhi and me are opposites. Yi-Zhi is unaware of how deep his love is for Lisa. He is very methodical and isn’t in tune with his emotions. Whereas, I’m very in tune with my emotions. His true feelings are only uncovered after a series of incidents. Maybe the issue isn’t about the proposal, but how much Yi-Zhi is willing to do for Lisa.
Allison: When it comes to relationships, I’m as impetuous as Lisa. I don’t believe in overthinking it. If you think this is the right decision, why don’t you take any action. If you have second thoughts, you should tell me. But we differ when it comes to marriage. My views on marriage are more like Yi-Zhi’s. I believe in building our lives together, finding common grounds, whereas Lisa really needs a commitment.
Q: What are your impressions of each other?
Chris: Allison is very intelligent. We can talk about various topics — from her interests and photography, to documentaries and philosophies. She has a mind of her own and shares her opinions. I always look forward to chatting with her.
Allison: I know Chris as the leading man of Taiwan idol dramas. He is a senior in the industry. It’s a feat to be able to give a sincere performance, while looking suave. Chris managed to do both. He is willing to uglify himself in the name of acting. In a particular scene, he was so unsightly that he stole my spotlight. But I was also very impressed.
Q: Which of your co-actors left a memorable impression on you?
Allison: My good friend Dora plays my junior air stewardess in the drama. It was very comfortable acting opposite Dora. It came naturally to us because we are good friends in real life who exercise together and talk about our relationships. We are from the same talent agency, but we only got close after starting on this drama. Now, she visits my house frequently.
Chris: Huang Shang-Ho plays my good friend in the drama. Before I got to know Shang-Ho, I got the impression of him being fierce. After I got to know him, I realised that he’s such a warm person. We had many discussions about acting, and how our characters should interact. He has such passion for acting. Looks can be deceiving.
Q: Was there any interesting events that happened on set?
Chris: The first scene that comes to mind is when Yi-Zhi got really drunk. He vomited and cried his eyes out. It was the one scene that I could really let go. I was really happy to play that scene. To help get into character, I asked the director for permission to drink. He gave me the green light. I drank about less than half a bottle of whisky.
Allison: Chris stole my limelight in this scene where he got drunk. I was so shocked by his performance, my mind momentarily went blank when it was my turn to act. Because Yi-Zhi’s character is so stable, the two times when he lost control were such a stark contrast. Do look out for these scenes!
Q: Tell us more about the kissing scene at the baseball park. We read that the spectators present were caught by surprise.
Aliison: I didn’t know the kiss-cam would be broadcast and it went viral on the internet. A few hours later, people were sending me links to the articles. We made it to the headlines of the sports section. I was a little worried the public might think we were having an affair because Chris is married. But when netizens commented that we were probably filming because the kissing took place in broad daylight and it couldn’t be true, it makes me feel that people trust our reputation and I’ve lived my life right.
Chris: The filming took place at an actual baseball game, so the spectators were concentrating on the game. The kiss-cam was projected on the screen during the break. I was looking forward to seeing the audiences’ reaction. I felt a sense of satisfaction, as if I managed to prank the spectators. We didn’t expect the kiss-cam to make it to the headlines of the sports section. I told my wife about the kiss scene beforehand. Thank goodness, the reporter didn’t misconstrue the kiss-cam in the article. Even if it did get misconstrued, my wife would find it hilarious.
Q: The movie is centred on a proposal ring. Chris, how did you propose to your wife? What kind of ring would you choose?
Chris: I believe in functionality. If it’s a ring with a huge diamond, you might only wear it to a fancy party. My wife is also a practical person. I proposed to my wife with a diamond ring, which wasn’t too expensive. On the day we registered our marriage, I gifted her a diamond necklace. Because I feel she’s more likely to wear the necklace. She has a slender neck, so the necklace looks good on her. I bought it from abroad and it was more expensive. For our wedding bands, I chose a durable pair, so there’s no worry if it will get scratched. We never take it off. We wear it all the time to signify that we are married.
Q: The drama opens with the male lead losing the engagement ring on the metro. In real life, have you ever lost something precious to you?
Allison: No, because I don’t place much value on tangible items. I’ve lost a phone before, but a phone can easily be replaced. I would be more worried about losing my email password or a connection with a person.
Chris: Because I travel around in my caravan, I live with my parents whenever I’m back in Taipei. Sometimes I misplace the house keys. I once forgot to bring my passport to the airport. I had to get my family member to send my passport to me. I haven’t really lost anything important. I dropped my phone in a desert during a cross country race. I thought my phone was gone forever. I walked up and down the stretch of sand repeatedly, and finally managed to recover my phone.
Q: Allison’s character is caught between an ex-lover and your current lover. How would you handle such a love triangle in real life?
Allison: I’m usually not in contact with my ex. If we have a common circle of friends or colleagues, I won’t attend gatherings where he’ll show up. I just don’t want to complicate matters. I want a clean break so I won’t put myself into such situations.
Chris: I’m still in contact with my ex, but my wife is aware. If my wife doesn’t like a particular ex, I won’t reply her. Maybe it’s because my ex and I have settled down and started our own families separately, we still gather as a big group along with other friends from school. My wife is pretty open.
Q: How would you sum up your 2020?
Allison: It’s a year of gratitude. We’ve lost a lot — my dramas were cancelled, the world has changed. We took things for granted previously. Now, just being able to gather and film is such a blessing.
Chris: It’s a year of connection. On the surface, we’re separated because of social distancing and quarantines. But we’ve become closer as a result. Our priorities have been clearer and you realise what matters. You’ll connect with what or who is important.
Q: What do you hope the audience will take away from the drama?
Allison: “Adventure of the Ring” takes a light-hearted look at serious issues. This year has been a tough year. I hope this romantic comedy can bring audiences some laughter.
The last episode, titled “Propose? Or Not!”, follows the ring as it ends up back in the hands of its original owner, Yi-Zhi, who now finally understands the essence of love after hearing the adventures of the ring from Rossy’s radio show. With Lisa and him about to go abroad separately, Yi-Zhi wonders what to do.
Catch Chris Wang and Allison Lin on the season finale of “Adventure of the Ring” on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 HD).
Images by Warner Media.