C-netizens Grumbling and Trolling the Heck Out of Top Actress Zhang Zi Yi at 41 Years Old Playing a 15 Year Old Girl in Her First C-drama Monarch Industry

There hasn’t been a C-drama to entice me in a few years, not since Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles Peach Blossoms, though the Koala jiejie has asked me to watch Love and Destiny and I still owe her that. With that said, I clearly was never going to watch recently premiered high profile period C-drama Monarch Industry (上阳赋 also called The Rebel Princess), the first television appearance by top actress Zhang Zi Yi and with all the hype you can imagine that comes with it. She’s good enough but doesn’t entice me and the male lead is the opposite of my dish, like the exact opposite that is how much the repelling happened when I saw him onscreen. But I’m sure this drama will appeal to plenty so it’s with a surprise to hear the amount of controversy, bitching, grumbling, and general hullabaloo in C-netizen and media-spere way more than usual drama feedback.

Number 1 among all complaints is Zhang Zi Yi playing the female lead at the beginning of the drama for multiple episodes as a 15 year old, when she’s 41 in real life. It’s totally a Bae Yong Joon in Winter Sonata understandable critique (and he was only in his 30s then), to day even people who love WS admit Yonsama was ridiculous playing an 18 year old ahahaha but that’s part of the absurd appeal I guess. The issue netizens have is she doesn’t have the teen fresh youthful vibe at all and since she’s 40 the production should have cast a different teen actress and transition to Zhang Zi Yi when she aged into her late 20s and beyond. C-netizens find it insulting that Zhang Zi Yi thinks she can play a 15 year old and everyone should buy it. Zhang Zi Yi got so mad she actually posted on her SNS telling media to shove their “young girl aura” write ups, she did her best playing the role through nuance and acting and knew getting the script she was going to play this role through multiple decades of this character’s life. Nice clapback girlfriend, even if I also find your 15 year old character from drama stills alone super unbelievable but I’m sure the controversy and complaints are doing wonders in generating more publicity for the drama.

C-netizens also find the costume styling for this drama super mockable, from the coat that looks like a purple/gold corn to the one that looks like an exact color candy wrapper.


C-netizens Grumbling and Trolling the Heck Out of Top Actress Zhang Zi Yi at 41 Years Old Playing a 15 Year Old Girl in Her First C-drama Monarch Industry — 32 Comments

  1. This could have been the perfect opportunity to introduce new talent by casting an actual 15 year old to play her role. Could have been budget issues? Who knows. Anyway, I don’t blame ZZ, I blame the person who made this decision.

    • There is definitely no budget issue. Anyone of the younger actress popular or new would have been cheaper than zzy. And this project has no shortage for budget. They probably just wanted to capitalize on zzy, and believed having someone else play female lead on the pilot and first few episodes would not bring the same hype as zzy.

      Looks aside, she really got the mannerisms of a naive and willful 15 year old. wonderful actress. Im sure everyone will forget about it once we move on to the part where FL has matured

      • They filmed it 2 years ago, so it’s not like they can change anything based on the current reaction.

        What they thought was a good idea then is clearly not working rn but it will probably blow over once the story progresses

  2. I really enjoy watching this drama. She might not look like a 15 y.o girl but her acting was on point tho. The story itself is amazing.

    The male lead is so charismatic and masculine. Good thing, they casted him. Most of the male lead nowadays are ‘pretty’ and soft.

    Can’t wait for the next episodes. Despite being criticized for her so not youthful appearance but still, she pulled her character well. It’s better than some other ‘historical’ drama nowadays.

    Rebel princess fighting!

    • Same and I actually like her chemistry with the lead guy. If you just ignore the age part, the acting is good, the pair is good.

    • I agree. Yes, it is a suspended belief that she is 15. However, her acting is spot on and she’s very credible as an actor so I have no qualms about it. I have also watched the drama up until episode 10. So I’m not speaking this vicariously but through experience that I absolutely love the production and acting, everything about it. The costume and cinematography. I am very impressed that ZZY actually rode a horse herself, no stunt double!

      It’s so refreshing as it’s been a long time anything has interested me aside from ten miles peach blossom and journey of a flower.

      I admit that the male lead is not my cup of tea either. Actually, I found her dad the prime minister much more charismatic and appealing. Okay, admittedly I am a sucker for three-dimensional characters, even if they are villainous. Hey, to each their own right.

  3. By ep 8 or 9 the character already grew up mentally since she was forced to mature quickly due to some turn of events so the negative feedback will probably die down along the road. The drama still has a long way to go with 68 eps in total. Beside I genuinely think the drama really showcase ZZY acting skill since she actually pulled off the teenage girl role, looks aside. Another supposedly ‘serious’ historical drama which had a 40 y.o lead actor Zhang Lu Yi playing a 13 y.o (who acts his age, but with beards) just aired recently so I guess c-netz are just not having it lol.

  4. I feel like it’s normal for cdramas to have the same actress play the same character throughout the years?

    Tang Yan played her younger self in Legend of Xiao Chuo & Zhou Xun in Ruyi Royal Love in the Palace, Zhao Liying in Legend of Mingyan even Sun Li in Empresses in the Palace and etc?

    It’s not a big deal it’s not like they’re gonna play 15-18 year olds the whole time. So I don’t see the point of complaining.

    Side note. I remember in My Sunshine they casted younger actors and actress to play Tang Yan & Wallace Huo & I remember they made fun of them cause they didn’t look like the “older versions”. So I guess you can’t win either way?

    • There is really no winning. If they had casted a younger actress and her acting wasn’t up to par with ZZY’s then they would’ve gotten criticized anyways ??‍♀️

    • It’s rather normal and not just for cdramas either. Bae Young Joon played a 17 in sageuk Legend when he was in mid 30 and Song Il Kook in Jumong also. The worst offender is still Ueno Juri in her mid 20s playing a 9 years old in taiga drama Gou though lol. Perhaps this supposing to be perceived as a normal thing is the problem. But I also understand the actor wish to act out as many character’s life phase as possible to get best feel of the character and I think the audience can get more invested too. In My Sunshine where Janice Wu played the young Tang Yan, I’m one of few who couldn’t feel connected to the adult vers storyline due to change in actors.

  5. I started watching Cdramas last year and the youthful actors there- trying to play even teenage characters were falling short in the role. So many of them were not believable or just couldn’t act well.

    It was for both male and female roles. So an actor who can act, and has good voice dubbing is fine by me.

    The plastic surgery looks were killing me. Its all those eye surgeries. I can take the nose jobs but the eye surgeries were terrible.

  6. I think the casting was actually perfect. I was skeptical of the drama at first, but it’s actually really good, and I think casting younger and less experienced actors would have reduced the quality of the drama. I actually don’t mind the male lead either, he looks like a general. Generals who have to war for several years aren’t meant to look pretty and delicate, so I think he’s doing a great job.

  7. She does look old for the role, but I’m a few more episodes in and it’s no longer jarring. I think she’s just not a great fit for a young and bubbly heroine, but after the wedding she’s a lot better. Imo, even at 40 she is still super gorgeous. Zhang Ziyi is Zhang Ziyi after all. I’d rather watch her than the likes of 95-ers and 00-ers who are plain and can’t act.

  8. The looks don’t fit *cringe*, but I agree with everyone else that her mannerism definitely pulls it off. An actress a decade younger wouldn’t necessarily be able to pull off the same level of acting Zhang Ziyi is doing. Even a fresh 20 year old actress might look annoying and tryhard playing a capricious 15 year old girl tbh without the charm and acting skill.

    The best way is of course for the production to add camera “filter” to make Zhang Ziyi look younger but that’s probably too costly.

  9. It was a stupid decision. They are plenty good young actors in Korea who could act very well in sageuk, sometime they’re better than their adult counterpart. So it’s weird they can find the same in China… a pretty big country…

  10. I’ll admit she doesn’t look 15 but from those stills, she looks like she’s in her mid to late twenties which is pretty damn good for someone over 40. I’m younger than her but I look at least 5 years older.

  11. Yes, bad choice for her to act as a 15 year old. She really should have cast a child actress here. Can not think of a reason why she didn’t, and since she invest in this project, should have made this drama better at the beginning. The first few episodes are the most important for any drama to captivate an audience. ZZY is an acting judge on a variety show so should know better as a senior actress. No excuses.

  12. yah, there’s no way, she looks 40. There are lots of asian women who think they look like they’re 20’s, but nope…youse old. A 15 year old asian would look like a baby. So nooo. Even on Legend of Fei, paring Zhao Yi Ling with Wang Yibo, with a 10 year difference can definitely be seen. That’s why in every chapter and scene they have to say that A-Fei is pretty. They have to convince the audience that she is young, but really it is a stretch.

    • @doc
      I’m laughing at your comment. I’m currently watching Legend of Fei, Zhao Li Ying is one of my favorite C-actresses, who I consider stunningly beautiful but even I can see the 10 year age difference between her and Wang Yibo and am constantly reminded of it in various scenes. I’m enjoying the drama regardless, but wished that the production crew took the liberty to age her character upwards to at least early twenties instead of her playing a teenager! The other thing that bugs me is the distracting eye makeup used on her and Wang Yibo. Heavy eyeshadow and lipstick used on all scenes even when sleeping and waking up pushes my suspension of reality to its limits! Lol!! As for The Rebel Princess, I seriously considered picking it up but the aesthetics of the drama didn’t appeal to me at all so I gave it a hard pass.

  13. In relation to you comment that there hasn’t been a C-drama to entice you in a couple of years, I’d strongly urge you to try Mr Fighting. It was so good subbed that I can only imagine how excellent it must be for those who don’t need it translated. VERY different to historicals/fantasy/wuxia, but powerful and with a balanced realism I’d never have expected

  14. The big plus of this particular drama, for me, is that they are using their own voices for the dubbing. It feels more natural. I keep forgetting that Zhang Ziyi is suppose to be playing a 15 year old. I keep thinking it’s a 20+ year old character. Not in a, she looks too old way, just that most of the cast are experienced actors. Also the post-production is a lot darker in the overall tones. So it feels more serious, rather than a playful, idol/new actor drama. I am hoping this drama is worth 68 episodes!

  15. The pouts are quite cringey, is that a trait of 15 years olds? Those are eyes of 40+, there’s no way she can pass for even 25.

  16. I actually like the drama. I know ZZY from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and she was great there. She’s also doing great in Rebel Princess, I know she’s 41 this year, but despite my initial reaction of “ok so she doesn’t look 15” I’m looking forward to more subbed epis.

  17. Ahahahaha. In my opinion, the blame should go to those behind the scenes, not the actress herself. They should leave her alone, please, its just a few episodes. Plus, you’re right, Koala, all that the hate comments is make me interested in the drama. Without it, I never would have found out about. Zhang Zi Yi on the small screen? Subarashi!!
    Also love the costumes, regardless of the candy wrapper or purple/gold corn comparison.
    Definitely gonna wait, then binge-watch the heck outta this series. Hopefully, there’ll be eng subs from start to finish.

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