Leading roles

She plays the lead in new Taiwanese movie The Next Magic, as well as An Angel's Happiness (opposite Taiwanese star Ming Dao), which will mark her debut foray into idol drama territory.

Ever since Scarlet Heart, Liu's face has also graced the covers of publications such as Modern Women and Asia Weekly.

Oddly, while the show has taken large parts of Asia by storm, response from local viewers has been muted.

Nevertheless, local followers tell The New Paper that Liu holds her own next to her older male counterparts.

"I think her looks are appropriate for the part," said planning analyst Kelly Wu, 30, a fan of the series.

"She appears to be smart and modern, not the typical classical Oriental beauty, which makes it more convincing that she had travelled back in time."

Agreed teacher Yang Xiu Ping, in her late 40s, who praised Liu for being "very competent" in her role.

"Admittedly, she's slightly overshadowed by the two male leads (Nicky Wu and Kevin Cheng), as both of them are so handsome.

"I've heard some of my friends comment that she's not extremely beautiful, but I don't think that's important."

However, with fame comes inevitable scrutiny and brickbats, something Liu seems to have taken in her stride in an interview with Sina.com.

When quizzed about online criticism over her "plain looks", "pimples on her face" and speculation that she had gone under the knife, she gave a witty reply.

"I can't force everyone to like how I look, can I? Didn't some netizens comment that I look very plain? If I had gone for plastic surgery and still look 'plain', that's very sad."

Fans absorbed in Scarlet Heart's intense love triangle between the characters of Liu, Wu and Cheng would be surprised to know that off-screen, the actress hardly interacts with her co-stars.

"Seriously, I don't really know them outside of their characters," Liu told Chinese showbiz portal Yule.com.

"On set, I'd just call them Fourth Prince (Wu) and Eighth Prince (Cheng), their names on the show. Even till today, it's the same when I meet them at events. I don't ever call them Nicky or Kevin."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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