She’s been making waves in China for her high-profile acting gigs in the past two years. But Eleanor Lee, the doe-eyed daughter of host Quan Yifeng, has probably snagged the biggest role of her showbiz career to date. It was announced at a press conference in China last Saturday that the 17-year-old will be starring as the female lead opposite Heavenly King Leon Lai, 50, in upcoming Chinese drama Overseas Security Officer. The 40-episode show, which began filming in end May, is also Leon’s return to the small screen after more than two decades. The drama sees the pair working as Chinese national security officers (FYI: they play colleagues, not lovers) who undertake big-scale international missions to protect their country. Sounds like James Bond, or should we say James Bong?
Eleanor, who got her big break in 2015 after starring in a viral ad campaign for Apple in China, also played the lead in Chinese idol drama Solaso Bistro last year, where she reportedly earned a S$1million paycheck. More importantly, Eleanor, who just wrapped filming for coming-of-age Chinese web drama Fantastic Baby, will also be starting school soon in the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. We chat with the star, who took time out of her hectic filming schedule in China, via text.
8 DAYS: Congrats on your new role! What was the casting process like?
ELEANOR LEE: My agency arranged for me to meet up with the producer and the creators of the show, and showed them the work I've done before. I didn’t have to audition for it, but I’m not sure why I was chosen. When I knew that I got the role, I was very excited and overjoyed! I feel really lucky and thankful to be involved in this project.
You play a national security officer. How are you prepping for it?
I go for training sessions with real-life Chinese national security officers and that helps us understand our roles better. There will be some action scenes so I’ll be training for that too.
Filming started at the end of May. How has it been like on set so far?
It’s actually only been a few days since we started shooting. To me, it’s like any other drama. I don’t have any funny anecdotes to share yet, but I believe I can tell you more stories after we film for a longer period of time.
What’s it like working with Leon Lai?
He’s a very nice guy. He’s a very big shot but easy-going and warm. He makes me and the people around him feel very relaxed. I feel like I can learn a lot of valuable things from him just from acting opposite him. It feels surreal but I’m not starstruck!
What has your mum said about you starring opposite Leon?
She told me that he’s a Heavenly King and that he’s an award-winning actor. She asked me to learn from him, and told me to work harder and focus more on set.
You are about to start your undergraduate studies in Beijing Film Academy. How will acting in this drama affect your studies?
Filming for this drama wraps in September, just right before my university term starts, so the timing is just nice.
You’ve been taking on acting gigs back-to-back. Any other projects in the pipeline after this drama?
I’ve to start school after this show, but I’ll be preparing for my first album soon!