She is the well-loved Fucha Empress in Story of Yanxi Palace, while he plays palace guard-turned-military general Hai Lan Cha and BFF to her onscreen younger brother, Fucha Fuheng. Both Qin Lan and Lawrence Wong barely share any screen time together in the 70-episode series about feuding concubines in the palace, but their off-screen relationship has been heavily scrutinised by entertainment journos.
You can’t blame the media for overthinking the signs: she specially prepared a birthday cake for him when they guest-starred on a variety show and they have been seen behaving friendly with each other at the airport when they jetted off for work together.
Plus, thanks to Korean dramas, noona romances (a term to describe a woman in a relationship with a younger man) are in vogue and part of their excitement stems from the fact that they think Lawrence, who is reported to be 30 this year by Chinese media, is seven years younger than Qin Lan, 37 – or is he really 36? The Malaysian-born actor was reported as 33 years old in the last interview he did with Toggle in 2015.
The numbers don’t quite add up but age, it seems, is the last thing on everyone’s minds as rumours of a swirling reel-to-real life romance hit fever pitch in China last week. Fans have even given this perceived 'May-December' romance their seal of approval, proving that the two actors’ compatibility goes beyond their milky white complexions and ageless appearances.
But their management agency, Wow Star, has nipped the idea of a budding romance in the, uh, bud, and insists that the only relationship Qin Lan and Lawrence share is that of a work relationship. Both actors have also vehemently denied reports of them “being more than just colleagues”.
For those not in the know, Qin Lan also doubles up as Lawrence's lady boss, having taken him under her wing in 2016 when she signed him on as an artiste in her agency (she is one of Wow Star’s partners). It’s little wonder he sees her as his benefactor as well.
The former Channel 8 actor offered a little bit more background information about their “brother and sister” relationship during a recent interview with 8 DAYS magazine, and shared that he was introduced to Qin Lan when she was in Singapore to shoot a campaign for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as their official ambassador.
“We hit it off and they asked me if I was willing to go to China. I was like, ‘Of course!’ I needed new challenges and there was nothing to lose for me. It wasn’t like I was an Ah Ge or I was being groomed by the [TV] station and that I would be giving up a lot of things to start afresh. If I were somebody in Singapore, I might not have had the courage [to go to China]. But for me, it was a no brainer,” he said.
Ever since then, he's been spotted at various red carpet and entertainment events with Qin Lan, including the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
On the personal level, Lawrence described “elder sister” Qin Lan as an artiste who is “the same on-and-off screen”.
The 36-year-old recalled an incident where the actress, who plays a magnanimous and generous empress in the drama, rescued a stray dog when they were on set. “She got her driver to take the dog to the vet and paid for all its medical fees. She’s very kindhearted. I’m not trying to be politically-correct here – she’s really like that.”
Lawrence, whose popularity skyrocketed after starring in the hit Chinese palace drama series, has grand ambitions for his entry into China. According to China media, he once told Qin Lan that his goal was to be as famous as the actress in her homeland.
“It was a spur of the moment kind of thing [when I said that]. She was asking me what I wanted to achieve and I was just being candid. I said I want to be famous and earn a lot of money so I can provide for my family. And I guess that stuck with her,” he laughed.
The last we checked, at press time, the Chinese actress has 11 million Weibo followers, while Lawrence has accumulated a neat 2 million followers and counting – a stark comparison from his 600k followers when the show first started airing. On top of that, he’s got a whole slew of projects lined up this year: Love and Passion, a remake of the 1982 Hong Kong TVB series, One Boat, One World, headlined by A-list Chinese actors Zhang Han and Claudia Wang, and a new music single in the works.
If you ask us, 9 million—like the almost non-existent age-gap between them—is not too far away.
Photos: Weibo/Lawrence Wong
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