Michelle Chen Dispels Rumors of Contemplating Suicide After the Public Outcry Over Return of the Condor Heroes

I would prefer Michelle Chen stick with modern movies, she’s not bad in stuff like You Are the Apple of My Eye and Badges of Fury, but put her in period movie fare like Ripples of Desire or on the small screen in any drama such as Channel X and Wish to See You Again and she makes me cringe. That appears to be the majority opinion which burst forth into one of the most excessive torrents of criticism I’ve ever seen from both the media and the public towards an actor when she was cast as the iconic leading lady in the period wuxia drama Return of the Condor Heroes. She was held up to both the effusive description of the leading lady in the classic novel (lithe, icy, aloof, beautiful beyond compare) and found thoroughly unsuitable and wanting. She was further held up to famed C-actress beauties before her who previously played said character of Xiaolongnu such as Idy Chen, Carmen Lee, and Crystal Liu, and found even more lackluster.

The furor died down but got resurrected last week by the rumor that Michelle was so depressed by the tremendous amounts of hate and criticism lobbed her way for thinking she was suited enough to play such a character of unattainable female perfection. The rumor claimed that she contemplated suicide (jumping off a building, to be exact) from all the public hate for her. Michelle’s manager quickly issued a press release that she never contemplated suicide though she was upset by all the hate, but she felt better after she went on a massive diet and lost a lot of weight so that she could no longer be derided as a Xiaolongbao (pork bun) masquerading as a Xiaolongnu (the little dragon girl). I’m not sure losing weight would allay the netizens overall rejection of her playing the role in both looks and acting skill, but I am glad she wasn’t so thin-skinned that she actually thought about killing herself. The TW-press interviewed similarly oft-criticized model-actress Lin Chi Ling this week at an event and asked her about the Michelle-suicide-over-netizen-hate rumors and Lin Chi Ling quickly offered advice to Michelle that to be an entertainer is a profession where one needs to have such thick skin as to repel everything.

The above pictures are of Michelle last month attending an event and looking much skinnier than when she filmed RoCH last year. I quite like that hairstyle and color on her, very flattering and fresh. It was also her birthday this week and she posted on her Weibo that she’s happy turning 31 years old and the wish that she made was for her heart to expand and her physique not to get fat (心寬體不胖).

A refresh of the Michelle as Xiaolongnu look that garnered her mockery and hate from fans of the original novel and previous drama adaptations of the RoCH story. I think there’s an element of RoCH producer and troll extraordinaire Yu Zheng using Michelle to rile up the netizens and garner coverage for his drama. The man is a maestro at using bad publicity because the dramas he writes and produces are always shit so he’s never going to get good press for it so might as well heat up the hate. I still think Michelle should have just say no to the role in the first place.

Michelle recently flexed her artistic side to design a pair of lover’s mugs that read “I am home when you are with me” when placed together. It’s pretty effortlessly cute. It would make a nice casual gift for the Summer wedding season. Her guy-girl doodles are adorable as well though I could do without the hearts on the handle. Maybe she has an alternative career as a mug designer?

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Michelle Chen Dispels Rumors of Contemplating Suicide After the Public Outcry Over Return of the Condor Heroes — 35 Comments

  1. Well fuck me, but I find her really pretty. Conventionally attractive young lady. I really don’t know what’s upsetting everyone else about her face. :/

    • I have no problem with her face too. I remember a post in KP where I picked her as one of the prettiest in the lineup of actresses that won an award.

      Still, the fact remains that she doesn’t suit the role of Xiaolongnu.

      Of course, actors/actresses can get past such things by dint of their acting talent. See how Lee Beom Soo’s height didn’t diminish his presence as a Prime Minister in PMAI. Sadly, in MC’s case, she wasn’t able to, which I think fueled more hate towards her role in that show. 🙁

      • It wasn’t just her being physically not suited to the XLN as described in the novel, the anger was indeed her giving the proverbial middle finger to hundreds of millions of fans of the novel by claiming she was exactly perfect the play the role.

  2. Glad that she isn’t thinking about suicide. But sad that she thought losing weight would somehow appease the naysayers.
    Come on! She wasn’t even fat to begin with! And how is being stick thin an improvement of her acting skills?
    Just another reinforcer to the disgusting skinny-body worship that is prevalent in Hollywood and Taiwan/Korea.

    • I think her losing weight just sucks because she didn’t need to lose weight to begin with since she was pretty and healthy as is, but if she felt the pressure to lose weight to play XLN then she must know her physical features didn’t fit the particular role hence she had to go to extreme dieting to fit it, in which case she should have turned down the role to begin with.

      I’m also appalled at the amount of fat jokes at her expense even now. I was googling recent pics of Michelle for this post and one of the first pictures to pop up was a beauty article for a legit Chinese publication that talked about how to have a suitable thinning hairstyle for a fat girl and the article used a picture of Michelle in a flattering haircut! Holy was that just mean.

      Not thinking Michelle is suited to be XLN does not mean thinking she’s not pretty or she’s ugly. But some of the mockery has moved on into the mean territory.

  3. screw people’s interpretation of beauty. she’s beautiful now and before. people aren’t afraid to say disgusting and cruel things when they’re sitting behind a computer screen but probably won’t say anything if it were face to face. this is why the world is messed up. smh.

  4. Weren’t you pretty harsh on her too?

    I haven’t watched her work, and yeah, she doesn’t look the part of her character’s description, so I understand that, but people were a bit much.

    Hopefully she really is fine.

    • I still have the same opinion about her casting, if that’s what you mean by pretty harsh. She is not physically suited to play the iconic beauty as described in the novel. There are some classic Chinese beauties in history she could try playing like Xi Shi or Wang Zhao Jun or Yang Gui Fei. Go knock herself out if she wanted to do that! Those beauties were described as lusciously round in form and face, soft and doe-eyed, which was THE standard of beauty for Chinese women for much of Chinese history. The iconic XLN in the novel Return of the Condor Heroes is NOT described as that kind of beauty, she’s tall, lithe, cold, aloof, sharp-cheekbones, etc. My opinion is not that she’s not beautiful per se, but she’s not the beauty that the author described for 4 novels as XLN.

    • LOL yes koala was one of the people bashing her before. No mention of that here I see…

      All this talk about her looks is sexist rubbish. Everything is smoke and mirrors anyway, and people who take the ‘most beautiful woman ever’ thing seriously aren’t very bright to begin with, or they just aren’t willing to use their imaginations because it isn’t supposed to be literal. These things are influenced by story-telling conventions and beauty standards of the time. The hilariously sad thing is that Michelle Chen would be pretty by non-fucked-up standards, but there you go.

      • I wholeheartedly agree. Also, if the problem was her simply not fitting the physical description of the character and not her being actually ugly, then there would have been no need for derogatory comments regarding her looks. I don’t think “pancake face”, “doughy, dull and dumpy”, “there has never been a fugly XLN until now” are exactly the words one usually uses to describe a person that Koala now claims is fairly pretty. I’m sorry, but all this crap about her looks can’t be compensated with one nice comment afterwards. You can’t claim Michelle Chen has a pancake face only while she’s in character, but she looks fine outside character, that’s just hypocritical. The rationalizations people use to get away with bashing other people are mind-boggling aka “She should take it cause she’s an actress”, “she deserves it for taking the role and daring to claim she fits the part”, “she’s not actually ugly, she’s just too ugly for this specific part!”. Uh-oh, not everyone is dumb enough to not see though all these pathetic excuses for hating on this chick. Wow, big deal, she should be stoned to death for taking a role in a TV series, how people are talking about that series and the novel as if it’s some holy thing she dared to ruin really shows how fucked up people’s priorities are nowadays.

  5. I don’t doubt that most people think she’s a cute girl but to take on such a iconic—-beautiful/flawless/breathtaking role, of course there will be criticism–good and bad, she’ll just have to harden her skin and take it. People will make judgement if an actor/actress don’t match their criteria for such roles in a drama that so many people love.

  6. If I were chosen to play an unattainable beauty in a wuxia I would jump at it too, whether I had one arm or three. To do otherwise is to think that I’m not good enough for others, and that’s sadder imo. Saying that she shouldn’t have taken the role in the first place is quite unfair. If this were instead a coveted role that required powerful emoting rather than beauty and some stiff pretty face landed the role, the outcry would not be like this. Sigh. By defending an idealistic vision of beauty we make sure that no one feels truly beautiful. Let’s make iconic beauty more versatile so we don’t have girls bingeing when they gain five pounds.

      • Internet trolling is a disease in this age and time. I hope bloggers can set as an example how to have constructive criticisms. You’ll feel good about yourself if you can make a difference in this harsh society. Beauty comes from within and come from different shapes and colors.

    • i agree with you..this is ironic. people kept accuse her for not being “beautiful enough” to play a role. Now that this news is surfaced, the hateful comments die down a little bit just to tell her not to take the role in the first place. well people… give her a break.when hollywood can give a space and recognition for african american actresses, why can’t we give a chance for fellow asian girl? criticism for her acting is enough, no need to see her negatively for her physical appearance.

      • I don’t know what other people think, but to me there’s a difference between physical beauty and inner beauty.

        We all can and should strive to be beautiful on the inside. It takes a lot of plastic surgery, beauty lessons, and coaching for us to strive to beautiful physically, and frankly, I don’t think it’s worth the amount of time, money and energy to pursue as it’s usually to the detriment of finding your own beauty within.

        Xiaolongnu is supposed to be the embodiment of PHYSICAL beauty not inner beauty and a specific type of that physical beauty, and unfortunately, there ARE standards for what PHYSICAL beauty entails, though there is a little leeway. Michelle Chen unfortunately does not fit that standard, and to me what was sad to see was her lack of awareness of measuring up to that standard.

        If she had come out and said, “Look I might not fit the prototypical beauty of Xiaolongnu, but I want to give it a go and impart my interpretation of it” I would have completely supported her. But she actually came out and said, “I AM that physically beautiful” when to the majority of standards she does not fit the Xiaolongnu criteria, which to me shows a severe lacking of self-awareness (and inner beauty).

        So, I think everyone’s entitled to there own opinion, but recognize that the world is the way it is. We shouldn’t ignore reality just because we want everyone to be able to pursue what they want. I might want to be the best basketball player in the world, but since I’m not over 6 feet tall, I would have a really, really, really hard time of accomplishing that. (And that’s probably understating the probability of that).

        Recognize what your potential limitations are and seek to transcend them, but recognize that we all have limitations.

      • word x a million @ requiem. You put everything i want to say on this matter much more eloquently.

  7. It’s kind of sad in this age and time, one can’t challenged the physical beauty of Xiaolongnu. So short, chubby, and dark color can’t never be her? Sound like discrimation to me who live in a Western country. I feel sorry for the Chinese and its community that only see things in one dimension only. It’s about time to start a reformation. lol.

    • She’s written as a classical beauty. You can challenge the idea of the classic beauty maybe in a modern drama. But when you’re playing the embodiment of the said beauty- it sorts of becomes glaringly obvious.

      By the way I am Asian and looking at 2 of the photos published before she looks really ordinary even with make up on. And when I mean ordinary I don’t even mean by being a beautiful actress standards. She looks plain; the only obvious features are her good skin and double eyelids. Sorry but that’s one of the attributes. I am not bashing her but if one choose to play a classic beauty one invites comparison. It’s not as if she was an ordinary citizen walking the streets saying ” I am a classic Chinese beauty ” and expect no one to dispute it.

      • @ssixfile.. XLN was not written as classical beauty… she was written as ETHEREAL BEAUTY.. So, unfortunately short, chubby and dark color is not her. 🙁 You have to understand that this is not a discrimination…

        If a flat-chested pretty actress were chosen to play Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, I can imagine the uproar from the game/comic-book fans… or imagine Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice who charmed Darcy with her beautiful expression of dark eyes…played by a very pretty underrated asian eyes US actress say.. Dichen Lachman??

        Anyways, I don’t think Michelle Chen is suicidal.. In regards to this role, she posted in English @ her Weibo “I believe that pigs can fly”, with a picture of pigs with wings.

    • The physical beauty of XLN can’t be challenged unless it’s a revisionist take. To claim it’s a straight up adaptation of a BOOK means to stick with what the book describes about all the characters including looks and personality. That’s the definition of faithful drama adaptation, which Yu Zheng claimed his take was. How could it be discrimination to express disappointment with the casting of a role that isn’t just described as “beautiful” and then told the audience to imagine the type of beauty whether it be short, chubby, tall, thin, dark, light, long hair, short hair, big-breasted, small-breasted, long-legged, short-legged…..you get the drift. The author spend pages upon pages of a 4 volume novel using very specific descriptors to describe XLN the character. She’s not just A beauty, she is a specific TYPE of beauty. No one is saying that any woman other than a beauty of the XLN description isn’t beautiful, there were plenty of other gorgeous female characters in the novel that were all described differently than her. That means to cast her the actress has to fit the description overall, and Michelle doesn’t. That is all this brouhaha was over.

    • It is NOT about how Chinese communities are being prejudiced about MC’s looks. It is MORE about XLN’s physical beauty that is actually described thoroughly in the book. I am not chinese so I am not trying to defend them, but hey, the AUTHOR of ROTR had already described XLN’s physical beauty as such (aloof, tall, sharp cheekbones, etc). It is not because short, chubby, and dark color means ugly. If ppl want to adapt ROTR movie right from the novel, sticking with the description of the novel’s character will not actually garner so many negative comments.

  8. I still don’t understand why the clothing designers and her hair stylists for the RCCH drama did not tailor their stuff to fit her. Or why she didn’t even get a flattering hairstyle.

  9. Yeah I’m not surprised, some of the stuff said about her was brutal. There’s criticism…and then there’s being an a**hole.

  10. Actually I can understand why people complain her as Xiao Long Nu. Try to watch ROCH then you’ll understand about the beauty standard for XLN. Her character is based on famous wuxia novel by jing Yong. Its the 2nd book of the Condor Trilogy.She is described as goddess like with white clothes, with extraordinary beauty etc. I’m is an avid fans, admirer of Xiao Long Nu. I watch 2 remake of Return of The Condor Heroes (with Idy Chen and Liu Yi Fei as Xiao Long Nu)and impressed by both. My all time favorite was Liu Yi Fei aka Crystal Liu as XLN. I say she is perfectly awesome there and YES it’ll be lot of burden for the next XLN to fill her boots.People will keep comparing it to her (because she did an awesome XLN and the closest XLN people can remember.

    From time to time XLN role is always bringing such discussions because how vital her role for this wuxia, and when you agree to do it, you have to be ready for whatever coming with it. I hope michelle will stay strong since she is accepting the role.

    I think I will rewatch ROTCH later. This article make me miss Yang Guo and Gugu again. I really adorb Liu Yi Fei and be her fans because of this wuxia ^^a

  11. I still stand by my comment that she isn’t suitable for xln. And I don’t support the shady plaguarzing producer so I’ll save myself from being frustrating by not watching this one.

  12. So would Shakespearean devouts cast stones at me If I wanted to play Juliet in my school play? Juliet was after all written as a fair 13 year old girl. And by all means we must stick to the book word for word or else it wont be considered the real thing. I can reassure you Shakespeare wont be turning in his grave if I do. If MC doesnt fit with ppl’s fantasy then they can simply skip this one and go rewatch the other ones with LYF and Carmen Lee so the order to their beloved imaginary world can be restored. What they shouldnt do is use their keyboards to personally attack the actress. Yes everyone has a right to protect their vision but it shouldnt be at a cost to someone’s else’s self esteem. That’s bullying. No matter how thick skinned you are you cant be desensitized from an angry mob.

  13. Well,

    I do not blame the criticism of Michelle Cheng as XLN, especially when some of the other supporting actresses out-classed her. Besides, she smiled too much as XLN; and was not as authentic.

    If they can put Michelle in then, I would have preferred Gao Yuan Yuan as XLN.

  14. Well call me racist, sexist, prejudicial or whatever… those religiously defending MC’s role as XLN are obviously no XLN in reality. While I do not deny that MC may have her own attractiveness, I’m not gonna succumb to pressure (and ignorantly believe that any tom dick or harry can play the role of XLN) because some fat ladies, who probably have issues in real life, decide to write long comments here defending MC based on her own personal life experiences.

    @serenity, to answer your question, yes!If you’re fat and ugly then you probably shouldn’t play Juliet. Encouragements from teachers or parents should not be taken as a sign of acceptance, it’s simply what most natural human beings would do to build confidence in children. Besides, what harm can a young fat juliet do to a bunch of audiences on an annual school play? Try casting for a big budget hollywood production, then we can revisit this topic.

    I made my point. Enough said. Godspeed!

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