Those of you who have watched Yu Zheng‘s dramas would agree that Winter Begonia is not his typical fare. Instead of the imperial court, Winter Begonia takes place in the 1930’s. It is based on a BL novel about two male characters Cheng Fengtai and Shang Xirui and the art of Chinese opera. In the leading roles are Huang Xiaoming and Yin Zheng.
Unbeknownst to some, producer Yu Zheng doesn’t cast actors to play leading roles from the get go. He prefers to test them in other roles first like he did with Yang Mi who played a supporting character in Beauty’s Rival in the Palace before taking the lead in the hit drama Palace. He also had Zhao Liying in several supporting roles before Legend of Lu Zhen and followed the same drill for Chen Xiao, Xu Kai, Bai Lu and Feng Shasofeng before they were casted as leads.
Yu Zheng reveals that Yin Zheng wasn’t the first choice to play Winter Begonia’s Shang Xirui. There was apparently another actor whom Yu Zheng wanted to do a test run with after seeing him in a play. Yu Zheng, impressed by the actor’s performance, thought that he would make a perfect Shang Xirui. His only worry was that he wasn’t confident about how well he would do in a drama. Yu Zheng offered him the supporting role of Yuan Chunwang in Story of Yanxi Palace. The actor whom Yu Zheng didn’t name was only interested in the part of Shang Xirui and did not want to play a Qing dynasty eunuch. Yu Zheng later found out the actor would appear in another Qing Dynasty drama which didn’t sit well with him, and he has called out the actor for lying.
Netizens are nothing but resourceful as they have surmised Yu Shaoqun to be the actor who has earned Yu Zheng’s ire. Coincidentally, Yu Shaoqun posted a cryptic message on his Weibo saying something about how he outran a dog and that this dog can’t be controlled. He also mentioned it would bite everyone.
Supporters of Yu Shaoqun find that Yu Zheng’s comments were uncalled for as they reason that Yu Shaoqun passed on Story of Yanxi Palace because he didn’t want to go for a Qing Dynasty hairstyle, which he didn’t have to do for the role he played in Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace. Regardless of what happened, it has brought us to the casting of Yin Zheng.
At the time, Yin Zheng’s manager has already reached out to Yu Zheng for the role but they hadn’t had a chance to meet yet when another one of Yu Zheng’s friends recommended Yin Zheng. Yu Zheng had told Yin Zheng that he’d have to play a supporting role in Arsenal Military Academy first, which he readily accepted. Yu Zheng shares that after working with Yin Zheng he knew that he had found the perfect Shang Xirui.
However, it almost didn’t work out as Yu Zheng couldn’t afford to give a higher talent fee since production costs for Winter Begonia were already ballooning. This made Yin Zheng’s agent hesitant to accept the offer. It was Yin Zheng himself who messaged Yu Zheng that he would gladly take part in the drama, saying that he didn’t expect to earn a lot, didn’t expect ratings to be high, nor did he care about distribution. All Yin Zheng knew was that if he didn’t accept the role offered to him, he would regret it for a long time. And that sealed the deal for his casting as the main role.