From royalty to fugitive

Mainland Chinese actor Ethan Li Dongxue gained such a following after appearing in the popular 2011 Chinese drama serial The Legend Of Zhen Huan that he says fans flew specially to obscure filming locations in China bearing large boxes of medication that they had prepared for him.

The 30-year-old actor seems, for the most part, grateful for the attention: "I'm actually very touched by these fans. I'm not so much annoyed. I think my manager and assistant will be more annoyed than me since they have to handle my fans' questions about my whereabouts."

He played the kind-hearted and suave Yunli, the Yongzheng Emperor's younger brother who falls tragically in love with the emperor's favourite concubine, in the television series, which went by the name Empresses In The Palace in Singapore.

The drama serial was adapted from a successful online novel, The Legend Of Zhen Huan, written by Liu Lianzi.

Fans still refer to Li by his royal title on the show: Wang Ye or Guojun Wang.

He says in Mandarin over the telephone from China: "As an actor, I'm very happy that people remember me for my role and that it managed to leave a lasting impression. I think that's a sign that the character has been portrayed successfully."

Since that breakthrough role, the former model has been approached with over 20 offers but he says that only a handful of scripts caught his interest.

One of them is the epic historical war series The Ninth Widow, adapted from a novel by well-known author Yan Geling. Li acts opposite popular Hong Kong actress Michelle Ye, who plays the lead character, a widowed child bride who later harbours her first love, a fugitive, through political upheavals and natural disasters.

The Ninth Widow premieres on Tuesday on Jia Le Channel (SingTel mio TV Channel 502).

Although the drama serial is unlikely to hit the heights that The Legend Of Zhen Huan achieved, it has already topped ratings in different parts of China such as Shanghai and Jiangsu.

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