Award Winning C-actress Zhou Dong Yu Lambasted by C-netizens as Unsuitable in Looks for Goddess Role in Her First Period Fantasy Drama Ancient Love Poety

Okay, this story is making mainstream papers and really hitting a nerve so worth delving into. Last week the latest period fantasy C-drama (xianxia genre which means gods and wuxia combined) Ancient Love Poetry was released starring Zhou Dong Yu and Xu Kai. This is her first period C-drama role and she’s playing a mythical goddess in those typical xianxia stories. Those who know Zhou Dong Yu know she’s a multiple Best Actress in film award winning serious movie actress so she’s eschewed television for many years but finally picked this drama. Immediately upon release the C-netizens were on fire in their complaints: Zhou Dong Yu does not have the physical looks to play an unearthly beautiful goddess, she’s too short so she looks like a kid opposite her male lead, her portrayal is too pixie and cutesy and not the cold, lofty goddess image needed for the role, and lastly the dubbing voice sucks donkey balls and takes everyone out of the drama. In fact, C-netizens think she is being outshone by the other actresses around her most notable the supporting actress playing her maid. They want the Goddess and the Maid to swap roles. Sigh.

The dubbing criticism is the only valid criticism, and the others are very subjective. I’ve lobbed my criticism when actors and actresses are cast in the umpteenth remake of my beloved Louis Cha wuxia novels are being totally wrong for the role, because those characters are so deeply engrained from those novels and prior adaptations have found good to great actors and actresses to bring those iconic characters to life. But this xianxia story is inspired from a 2018 novel of a different name and doesn’t have that decades of baggage where readers feel like a live action needs to hew close to the novel description. I think Zhou Dong Yu isn’t getting judged for her acting (she’s got so many Best Actress awards she doesn’t have shelf space) but for things outside of her control, i.e. her small stature, girl next door rather than icy beauty looks, and that she chose to play the role with this hop-skip-jump antics that really doesn’t scream “thousand year old goddess on high.” For comparison, I’ve added in the second half of this post the actresses C-netizens approve of and fawn over playing xianxia goddess roles from Yang Mi to Yang Zi.


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Award Winning C-actress Zhou Dong Yu Lambasted by C-netizens as Unsuitable in Looks for Goddess Role in Her First Period Fantasy Drama Ancient Love Poety — 27 Comments

  1. Pingback: Award Winning C-actress Zhou Dong Yu Lambasted by C-netizens as Unsuitable in Looks for Goddess Role in Her First Period Fantasy Drama Ancient Love Poety - Kpopnchill - All About K-pop News

  2. Xianxia is the only genre I truly enjoy and look forward too. It however also has its usual tropes. I did find the acting in the first few episodes too modern but it gets better. Doesn’t stop me from watching. New appreciation for Yang Zi

    • I think zhou Dong yu looks ethereal. Nobody says goddesses should have tall and haughty model looks. She is acting fine. Just trolls jealous of her popularity.

    • Episode 18 is the turning point in terms of acting. Dong Yu nails her performance there. Those who are watching will know what i mean.

      • Ep 20 minutes 15, i like ZDY han fu, her dress suits her well. She is very beautiful in this style of han fu with rectangular neckline. The drama goes well starting from ep 18.

  3. Pingback: Award Winning C-actress Zhou Dong Yu Lambasted by C-netizens as Unsuitable in Looks for Goddess Role in Her First Period Fantasy Drama Ancient Love Poety – SanIsidro

  4. I watch an episode because of this issue and I kind understand why people feel that she is misscasted. I mean, I actually thought she is supporting actress at first (because I’m not familiar with ZDY). It’s not about being “ugly”, she just didn’t give off impression of ‘strongest goddess’…but, more like, normal girl? Charming if her character setting is not that grand, but more moderate like small deinty (but later turn out she is the goddess that need to save the world) and I think people will love her more because her beauty is really unique in a way that not out of world like, say, dilreba. So, it easier for people to feel relatable and sympathy for her. Even YangZi character in AoL is small deinty at first right? (or more like that viewer think she is at first).

  5. I watch a few episodes and the supporting role really outshone ZDY because the supporting actress’s visual and aura fit the Goddess role more. I don’t think people are hating for the sake of hating on ZDY, she is quite well-beloved by the Chinese audience. It’s more to do she doesn’t match with the common tropes within the xianxia genre. Visual wise she doesn’t fit. The aura isn’t there. It’s quite jarring to watch.

    But she’s a great actress with great emoting ability which makes her a pleasure to watch onscreen. The other lead actresses that have acted in xianxia dramas (except for Yang Mi) seem to be bland and lacking compare to ZDY acting that’s full of life. I don’t think she has the natural onscreen charm of a TV female lead, she did that by her sheer acting skills which is quite impressive. That said, I’m not sure I will continue to watch even though the drama is high budget with amazing CG effects. Even Xu Kai feels unsuited to his role.

  6. She has a classic Asian beauty vibe in the last still. Does anyone else think that Yang Zi isn’t all that beautiful either? I always find it weird that she gets defended as a beauty standard.

    • I’ve thought that before about Yang Zi. She’s a wonderful actress, in my opinion. Great at expressing varied emotions and has a strong sense of comedic timing. Her confrontation with Night God in Ashes was fantastic acting.

      However, I never found her stunningly beautiful. The whole goddess of flowers, most beautiful woman was a bit odd. The bird goddess was more facially beautiful in my opinion. But I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder… and they are all more lovely than me. Haha.

  7. i read the novel’s english translation (only a few chapters done so far) after watching the first 2 eps cos i find her casting puzzling. it kinda make sense now but i still need to catch up with other eps & read reviews just to confirm if the adaptation is faithful to the original material or not. cud be we are so used to her modern film roles that are more raw thus seeing her in these costumes didnot seems not right?

  8. I actually don’t mind her. The dubbing’s not great, but I imagined that the pixie-ness was par for the role. If anything I feel like Xu Kai’s acting is pretty lacking/off, which is super disappointing because he was awesome in The Legends. They just don’t seem to click.

  9. I have seen many movies Zhou dongue is in and to be frank she suits those kind of roles. Just because someone is award winning doesn’t mean they can fit in to all kinds of roles. It just means they did an excellent portrayal of their character for those particular movies and dramas. I tried few episodes of ancient love poetry and I would agree that she did bad with this particular role. It’s nothing to do with being ugly or anything(because she’s not), she just didn’t portray and seek the character in a believable way. I wish casting directors don’t go for just name sake but actually see if people fit to their roles because in the end of you can’t sell your character in the drama, it becomes unwatchable. She was good in the drama sparrow. It just wrong casting here. Directors /producers should really try to bring the best in the actors. I feel part of the job is also the directors and producers to enhance an actor by giving right actors right roles.

  10. I saw Ashes of Love and I didn’t find Yang Zi to be spectacular beauty that her role was supposed to be. She’s cute but I never found her to be breathtakingly beautiful. I’m not sure what the hype is around her as most characters she played are dumb as rocks kind of characters. I guess people like girls in that kind of role and not the strong ones.

    • ZDY has tonnes of hype too. She has actually won all the leading female actress awards in prestigious C-film awards. In terms of acting awards recognition she is equivalent to Zhang Ziyi.

  11. Not only does she not have the physique, her posture is also an issue. Plus, she just doesn’t fit the character. She looks and acts “off”. Actors have roles that they suit, it’s just how wide that spectrum is. If acting covers everything we can just cast Meryl Streep in every role under the sun. For Zhou, the only success she had was in portraying average persons.

    Cnetz are actually relatively accomodating, because Cheng Yi and Yuan Bing Ying who are deemed very unattractive (by polls, not me) also got popular over their last xianxia work, so there must be something she or the drama is doing wrong. Personally I would readily admit that I’m shallow and I didn’t even try watching Cheng and Yuan’s drama. I watched the first few episodes of ALP (hey she’s an award winning actress after all) to see the hype and Zhou does look more like the supporting actress next to Zhang Jia Ni.

    The show itself is a mash-up of all other xianxia works which came before it, so that doesn’t help either.

  12. I’m giving it a try but I have to say I use the FF a lot. I don’t know her but she’s a decent actress. She can definitely act but she’s not the powerful goddess material? The pairing doesn’t have much chemistry either. Both leads are decent actors but the lack of chemistry is really something.

  13. This role is beneath ZDY and does nothing for her acting prowess. YZ is also short but the genre works for. ZDY in this genre is a waste of her talents. Xu Kai is fine because her has more experience with the genre but his best role is still Arsenal Military Academy. Also can we get more Cdrama casting and drama news? There are so many new stars and great dramas coming out of China these days.

  14. I wonder when will Liu Yifei get a xianxia drama project. Her visuals are oozing with warmth and she’s perfectly fit to play a goddess role. She had a a movie version of Eternal Love with Yang Yang but the graphics of the movie was a definite meh and it’s really not best work they can star into, how sad their pairing was wasted. I wish C dramas can employ Liu Yifei, particularly someone with a physique like yangyang and denglun. It’s been long after the Condor Heroes and not to mention it is wuxia.

      • Liu Yi Fei will have historical drama with Chen Xiao this year.. I hope this drama will be good… I kinda miss Chen Xiao in his golden time with many historical drama

      • Yes I heard of that but historical dramas rarely impress me these days. Big budget xianxias would fit her just like Ancient love poetry, Eternal Love, Ashes, and the likes. They could have casted here on this drama though. Her visuals suit goddess and given with her long year experience although she focuses more on movie and modeling, I think. Still I hope someday she will get one. I can just imagine her impact if she’s been given the right script

  15. Valid criticisms. An award winning film actress needs voice dubbing for her drama role??? This just proves there was no choice in the film awards and no credibility for the awards. A good actor is a good actor, be it film or drama. I can never film a drama with voice dubbing that is not their own.

  16. It is quite similar with Michele Chen as Xiao Long Nu…She is pretty but does not have goddess aura, more like girl next door…And people in general have their standard of etheral goddess beauty..

  17. Honestly, it took me a REALLY long time to get through ‘Ashes of Love’ because of Yang Zi’s character in that drama. If it wasn’t for the male leads, I would’ve immediately dropped it. I gave it up several times but eventually pushed through and eventually liked the character in the 2nd half of the drama. But the same thing is happening again with the first season of Ode to Joy. Some characters I find so unbearable that I wind up giving up the drama. With Ode to Joy, I started fast forwarding through her character’s scenes just to make it through an episode. Liu Tao is the reason I started to watch the drama. She’s just has the same grace and maturity in ‘Ode to Joy’ that she had in ‘Nirvana in Fire’. The squeaky voiced immature leads and supporting characters with too much screen time just kill a lot of these dramas for me. Here’s hoping Yang Zi’s role in the upcoming ‘Oath of Love’ is more mature.

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