Joseph Chang is featured this month on the front of GQ Taiwan, and he is ruggedly good looking surfing in the city. Below you’ll see some of the photos from the session plus a behind the scenes video of the shoot. Also, translations of the interview is at the bottom where Joseph talks about his unconventional ways.
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Born Free: Joseph Chang I Have My Freedom|GQ Taiwan
Translated by Tianlu for 24-7 KPOP. Use with credit.
On interviewing Joseph Chang, 10 colleagues will all say, “He doesn’t say much,” first me, then Hsiao Yen, the mother of variety shows, describes him as, “A big challenge in my MCing career.” We knew that Joseph Chang was not going to be eloquent, but every time I ask a question that causes him to be silent for over 5 minutes, I really hoped that the funny Song Jie Xiu he portrayed in “Love You” would come out and save me. But he’s not always a man of few words, when talking about acting, old cars, and sports, he always has more to say, except for what he doesn’t want to answer, there’s not even small talk. This is Joseph Chang, who once wanted to throw up just thinking about acting, stopping work for a year, who showed the camera the middle finger once he got into the photoshoot (we didn’t dare to use those), who’ll curse when he encounters bad things, it’s refreshing for us to feel his straightforwardness, going with his ideas, tossing away things he doesn’t need, this type of life, chic and happy.
At this moment, Joseph Chang stands on a rooftop of some high rise building in the heart of Taipei, the noon sun causes him to squint his eyes into a line, I pass the surfing board, requiring him, with his tuxedo, to use his imagination, to pass through the steel and concrete, and enter a virtual surfing world. I only see his chin raise slightly, his back straighten, right then a wind blows though, in that moment, I couldn’t figure out whether the blue behind him was the sky or the ocean.
Joseph Chang has a passion for surfing, Hong Kong’s well known theater director Edward Lam once custom made a character called Surfer for Joseph in the play version of “The Water Margin”. There was a monologue comparing the wave and love, very brilliant, “…I love surfing, my fate is to conquer every different wave, if you ask when do I stop? I can, if there is a wave higher than the sky swallows me in one bite, knocking me to the bottom of the ocean, even if I drown I’ll be happy, I’ll accept it, because my name is Surfer!” He told me that there’s a lot of autobiographical elements in Surfer, like many of the other characters in the play, created after intensive discussions between the director and actor. Back in reality, named the Film King at the Taiwanese Film Festival for “Girlfriend*Boyfriend”, Joseph Chang doesn’t feel like he’s been tied down by too many agreements, his two long breaks in life was because he felt tired and left when he wanted to. Watching him sway over from the other side of the road, with a cigarette and coffee in hand, no matter how many times he’s been caught by the media smoking on the street, lights one up, and starts smoking in front of a well-known salon. I remember many years ago, he and I talked about his father, a long-haired guitar-playing middle-aged man.
Joseph Chang exudes an air of grass-root rebellion, but it’s not a cynical anger directed at the whole world, his uninhibited ways has rational reflection to lead the way.
GQ: GQ Magazine
JC: Joseph Chang
GQ: The competition in the entertainment circle is fierce, many artists are really tired but they’re afraid to rest. You’ve had two really long breaks, aren’t you afraid that you won’t have a job when you come back?
JC: I am more or less a little scared, I’ll think about whether or not I can connect again when I come back, but I don’t know when I started thinking this way, which is what’s yours is yours. No matter how much you fight for it, if it’s not yours, it won’t be yours. If I’m meant to be an actor, even if I go take a 10 year break, when I come back, I’ll still act. I’ve never had the problem of whether or not I’m going to become famous, I was doing what I wanted to do. Of course, sometimes when I see others doing really well, I’m happy for them, but my personality is like this because making it will definitely mean sacrifices, so I walk to my own tempo, so I’m a little happier.
GQ: So you’ve never fought for a part?
JC: Fighting for a part is a little awkward for me. Actors should move people. If today there’s 10 scripts in front of me, the first thing is to wait for the script to arrive, otherwise there is no option to choose. We should look at this from a different prospective, don’t fight for a certain part or director, but each performance should work towards the next unknown opportunity, maybe if I do this well, then it’ll bring me something good.
GQ: I heard that you originally wanted Rhydian Vaughan’s role in “Girlfriend*Boyfriend”.
JC: At the beginning, I felt that I could project that role better, because when to cheat, the topics of the third person is highly connected, and we can talk about hurting and being hurt, all that happened before to either my friend or me, it made me want to express my feelings through that role.
GQ: What was the main reason that made you take the other role?
JC: The director met with me one-on-one, his experience was like what happened in the film. When we finished talking, he said, “Work hard, please act well in this part.” It gave me the feeling of a mission, so I decided. I don’t feel like I was only preparing for a role, but more like I experienced a life that had nothing to do with me, which also became a part of my life.
GQ: What’s different this time about your portrayal of a comrade [TN: Term for LBGT, mainly homosexual individuals]?
JC: Even though I’ve acted as a comrade many times, but to me it’s always a term that had quotes around it, not the same world as myself, but these past few years, I’ve asked why does there need to be a gender divide between people? Love is pure, it shouldn’t be so narrow.
GQ: When did you know that acting was like this?
JC: Pretty early, my second year of acting, filming my third idol drama “18 True Love”. But I started taking it seriously when I filmed “Crystal Boys” the next year.
GQ: I watched your BTS footage and interviews, your expression and voice all change, like a little embarrassed boy, you were very into your role.
JC: Yeah. It scared me when I watched it, “Weird, when did my voice become so gentle?”
GQ: Looking back on past roles, what do you understand about yourself?
JC: I understood a lot when I was filming, each character reveals what I can and what I can’t, they coexist, and can’t doesn’t mean that I never can, it’s very contradictory. But it’s a good contradiction because I changed to the moment. A lot of people ask me what I think, but I can’t answer because I don’t know what’ll happen in the future, so if I say it, but it doesn’t happen, doesn’t it mean I lied? I can only say what I think then, and work hard toward that direction, but there’s no way to guarantee the future.
GQ: Between projects, do you want to be alone for a long time or do you want to interact with others?
JC: Everyone needs companionship, I’m like that, too. But most of the time I want freedom, even to the point of selfishness sometimes. And I’m more mature as I grow older. When I was younger, I would depend on whoever I was going out with, now when I have time, I’ll go off to do my own things. Even though this isn’t a matter of right or wrong, but a stable relationship requires sacrifice and empathy.
GQ: What do you think an actor’s role is in society?
JC: I don’t specifically think about an actor’s role in society, and I can’t control what my role will be, what I’ll bring to my audience. But poetry will be poetry, everyone has a different definition for role, maybe it’s good or maybe it’s bad, I can only do my best, what happens next, we’ll have to see it naturally carry out. Everything is like that, to force someone to talk about an actor’s power is too heavy. I don’t know if I can carry such a heavy mission.
I can’t accept someone telling me I’m sexy, and I can’t explain why everyone thinks I’m sexy, it’s disgusting talking about myself! But let me ask you, what do you like best about yourself? Can you answer that?
I hope that the audience understands me a bit more, and not just like me because of my appearance. Now it doesn’t matter. First notice the appearance, then pay attention to the acting is not a bad thing. Basically, as long as people like me, it’s a good thing.