At first glance, today’s shoot venue seems almost at odds with Yuwu’s newfound status as devoted family man. The Writing Club, a posh liquor library at Palais Renaissance, is all gothic flair. The walls are lined with mahogany cabinets stocked with bottles and bottles of spirits and books. Then again, maybe the setting isn’t that off. After all, the actor’s brooding, philosophical bent fits in squarely with the dark, literary-infused ambience that evokes a sort of pensiveness. For instance, hear the man’s rumination on romance: “What attracts me about being in love, even marriage, isn’t sparks… it’s seeing an old couple and their mutual understanding and support towards each other through the years.”
It’s these kinds of worldly-wise bon mots the deep-thinker doles out during our one-and-a-half-hour interview (while Joanne waits patiently in the next room for Yuwu to wrap up his tête-à-tête with us so that they can lunch together). Yuwu still exudes an air of seriousness and quiet confidence; his smile, reserved and halting, as he rambles on about deep musings like some modern-day Aristotle. At the same time, the 40-year-old seems less inscrutable and more human, thanks in no small part to his transition into marriage and parenthood. Earlier on, the debonair star had greeted us with a cheery “Hello, morning!” and a bright smile, before breaking into a little shoulder shuffle dance. Oh, how very un-Ah Wu. We also get to witness a rare sight of his fatherly warmth when, exploiting an outfit swap, he hotfoots over to Baby Qi and plants a wet one on her cheek. Yes, bid adieu to the oft-seemingly impervious, emo Yuwu of yesteryear. Yuwu v2.0 is a self-confessed cheerier chap. And he wants to bring that newfound joy onscreen. Known for playing brooding, artsy types, Yuwu got in touch with his inner funny when he filmed a comedy movie, Happy Hunter, in Beijing. Qi Yuwu and comedy — who would have thought?
Later on, at our behest, Yuwu shows us a video clip of Joanne with Qi Di Di on his phone. In the clip, a jovial Joanne animatedly makes a “pop” sound over and over again, mimicking the noise of Qi Di Di spitting out his binky. Each time Joanne does that, the tot lets loose a deep belly laugh, which in turn cracks her up. And, each time that happens, we watch as Yuwu’s face crinkles into rare laughter. But while fatherhood may have a hand in mellowing the once-reticent star, Yuwu will have you know that his transformation is largely thanks to his missus. The second we wrap up the shoot, Yuwu sidles up to Joanne, who throws a giddy schoolgirl smile his way. Running a hand across his faux fur winter coat, she coos in Mandarin, “So warm.” Indeed, we are getting the warm and fuzzy feels from this loved-up couple, alright, and on this balmy afternoon, it almost feels like Christmas has come early.