Veteran actor Zhang Guoli goes on extreme diet to better fit into his new role in "Jian Guo Da Ye," a big budget TV sitcom celebrating the upcoming 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
The television-film begins at the end of World War II and is based on real events that took place during the years leading up to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. It focuses on the birth of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.
Zhang Guoli, a renowned actor famous for a series of ancient emperor roles, plays the Kuomintang (KMT) leader Chiang Kai-shek. Zhang is reported to have begun reducing his food intake and eating only one meal each day, to better resemble this historical figure.
Media sources say, the result is obvious and the actor has lost 5.5 kg in half a month.
Sina.com reports, Zhang first refused to play the role for the big difference between his image and Chiang Kai-shek.
Despite Zhang's wavering confidence at the beginning, his friends believe that he can do it. Vivian Wu Junmei, a Chinese actress who became internationally known for her role in the Oscar-wining film "The Last Emperor," said Zhang Guoli not only resembles Chiang in appearance but also in spirit.
"I think what really makes Zhang Guoli successful, is not his look but the resemblance in spirit. The way he deals with some details in his acting is very captivating." Vivian Wu added she could not think of anyone else who could do the role better.
Vivian Wu, also the star of "The Soong Sisters," will play a much more mature Madame Chiang Kai-shek (Mayling Soong) during the period of 1945-1949.
Playing this role for a second time 14 years later, the actress thinks she may have some predestined affinity with the great woman.