This week, one of the producers from the hit drama Word of Honor 山河令 starring Zhang Zhehan and Simon Gong Jun gave us several insights about casting for the drama. Chemistry and acting ability aside coz this is something hard to determine on paper, Ma Tao (马韬) mentioned the key things they were looking for when they shortlisted potentials.
First, she said the two male protagonists must be between the ages of 27 and 29, old enough to have “experienced life”. Because this isn’t a story of a young adult growing into adulthood, having someone with no life experiences play the part won’t be so believable. Next, the two male stars must be unattached – unmarried, never had been married and most importantly, single. Ma Tao also said that “if you look at the level of popularity they’re currently enjoying, who would want them to have a romantic partner.”
After enjoying a huge surge of popularity thanks to their performances in Word of Honor, it’s hard to believe Zhang Zhehan and Simon Gong Jun might not have been producers’ first choice to play Zhou Zishu and Wen Kexing. Rumour has it that the role of Zishu was supposed to have gone to actor Mao Zijun but the pandemic messed up everyone’s filming schedules. Nonetheless, Ma Tao has also previously revealed that Zhang Zhehan got the role without having to audition because she was set on having him play the part. She wasn’t familiar with Gong Jun and he got the part after auditioning.
Now that we’ve seen the insane chemistry between Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun though (that includes their funny antics off-screen too), it’s quite lucky they seemed to have hit it on the head when it comes to casting. The pair’s immense popularity at the moment – to the point that they’re both mobbed and hounded by super fans, should be enough proof of that. Besides, if anything, the super funny shenanigans Zhang Zhehan and Simon get up to when they’re guesting together on shows will tell you chemistry has never been a question between these two.