Ge You plays as the leading actor in Chen Kaige's New Year film Sacrifice (CFP)
In China, there are many good actors but few with the kind of charisma that guarantees good returns at the box office. Ge You is one of the few. Director Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen and Feng Xiaogang all chose him to be the leading actor of their 2011 New Year movies. In other words, Ge is their insurance for good box-office performance.
Director Zhang Yimou loves to use Ge as well. He has given Ge many roles, including his role in the movie To Live (1993), which earned him the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Although Ge's father is the well-known movie actor Ge Cunzhuang, Ge's artistic life has not been so smooth. Born in 1957, Ge was sent to live and work in the countryside after graduating from junior high school during the "cultural revolution." His job was feeding pigs. Later, he took entrance examinations for many art groups but failed each time. Finally, at age 25, Ge was admitted to the art troupe of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions with a short act Feeding Pigs. However, Ge's name wasn't included in the cast list until 1984, after many years of playing small parts.
Ge's fortunes began to turn in 1988, however, when he was chosen to be the lead in The Trouble Shooters, an adaptation of a popular novel by famous writer Wang Shuo. The movie's director found Ge's appearance and black humor suitable for creating the lead character.
Back then, few people had heard of Ge. But today, the opposite is true. Since appearing in the TV series Stories From the Editorial Board in 1992, Ge has become one of China's most recognizable stars and has won various awards.
Ge has become indispensable in the past decade's New Year movies. After Ge's successful performance in Director Feng's first New Year movie Dream Factory in 1997, Feng has produced a string of New Year movie hits, many starring Ge. In fact, many people go to the movie theater just to see Ge. His performance—often as an average person in society—has made many people think of him as a family member.
"When playing an average person, Ge doesn't arouse people's antipathy but reveals his wisdom about life," Feng said.
People in the movie industry call him "Uncle Ge" since he is modest and easy to approach. He never refuses when a fan asks, "Mr. Ge, can I touch your bald head?"