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F4 Talkasia Transcript

LH: Lorraine Hahn
JER: Jerry Yan
VS: Vanness Wu
KEN: Ken Chu
VIC: Vic Zhou

BLOCK A:

LH: They are known collectively as F4 -- pop idols who have been inspiring fan frenzy all through Asia since coming onto the scene in their native Taiwan in 2001.

Jerry Yen, Vic Zhou, Ken Zhu and Vanness Wu beat hundreds of other candidates in a casting call for the drama series "Meteor Garden," based on the wildly popular Japanese comic "hana yori dango."

The TV series and its sequel became such hits that it made superstars of the group overnight, leading to more drama roles, product endorsements and a string of successful albums and concert tours.

Gentlemen, welcome to Talk Asia. Thank you very much for being here with us. Its good to see you all.

The series, Meteor Garden, that made you virtually instantaneously famous, did that come as a surprise to you?

VS: Bit of a shock, yeah. We didn't expect it. I remember me and Jerry, we were supposed to have a fan meeting. Our very first one. But then, there was complete chaos where it was packed and then the fire department said we can't show up otherwise it would get too crazy. So the first ever fan meeting was cancelled. (bit of banter with Vic) So that's when we realized, wow this is bigger then we've ever expected and blown away by it.

LH: Was that hard to deal with?

JER: Yes, it was really difficult at the beginning when I wasn't used to it. But later, it got better when we learnt to accept it. And as more and more people started paying attention to us, we found that the attention made us want to work harder and do better for our audience.

LH: I mean you didn't have much, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but you didn't have very much acting training, right, before Meteor Garden?

JER: You're right, we never had any training, we just... went along with the flow.

VS: It was like a learning process...learning in progress. (KEN: I think we had a very good director at the time.) Yes our director was really good and he helped us a lot with everything. He really built the backbone of each character as well. I mean, he would give us certain parts and just really go with it, you know, he really helped us.

LH: Right, and Vic how close is your character, for example, to your true self?

VIC: I actually feel like the four characters in Meteor Garden are quite like our personalities, in real life. And that's the reason we were chosen. I had accompanied a friend to the audition and was waiting for him in the corridor of the office. The light was very dim and I hid in a corner against the wall. And when the director was going into his office, he saw me sitting there and thought, "Why is this person here?" And then he looked again and said, "This person's manners really seems like the character of Hua Ze Lei!" So he invited me to the audition.

LH: Some people said that you know, the story was focused on the wrong values -- you know, that it set poor examples for the young people. What do you think?

VS: I think a lot of times the media does blow everything out of proportion. Just by a single sentence, you know, they can say one word and then everybody will catch up with me all of a sudden and be like "Oh you're right you're right! We think this is wrong, the values are all gone." But then if you really look at the story, what is it really saying at the end? Just follow your heart! You know, is it wrong to follow your heart? Who can judge? You know, so ...

JER: Actually I think that it's just a television drama, not something that anyone should be taken too seriously. It was a bit of entertainment and escapism for some people. At best it gave some viewers something to think about.

VIC: That's Jerry's lifestyle! (laughs) Actually, it really is just a drama. You won't find many people in society like the ones in the show. Really, it's just entertainment, something for viewers to enjoy.

LH: Okay gentlemen we're going to take a very, very short break. When we come back, Talk Asia will talk with Jerry, Vanness, and Ken and Vic about their solo work and what they think about each other. Stay with us.

Block B:

LH: Welcome back to talk Asia, I'm sitting with Taiwanese pop idol group, F4. Gentlemen I heard that you all have very different personalities. Is that very difficult for you when you work as a group?

VS: Not really, I don't think so. I mean, cause when we work together we work as a team, and we're pretty good as a team. I think that's one of the things that is, that stands out about us, is because our personalities is so different in a group. Mostly when you see a group, a lot of the personalities, they are kind of like, in unison. But then for some reason our individuality makes us that unison.

LH: Interesting. And do you see each other, Jerry for example, as colleagues? Brothers?

JER: You mean the other 3 members of the group? (VS: Be careful!) hahaha...

LH: Wait till you hear the next question! (VS: We're more like partners)

JER: Actually, you could say that the four of us are like a unit, a small family. Vanness is like a... (Someone says mother, they all laugh) No, actually, Ken is more like the mother. Vic is like the cute lovable little brother. And Vanness, he's the serious and hardworking father. (VS: Hah! Just call me daddy! Hahaha! LH: Yeah. Exactly!)

LH: Is there a leader?

JER: No, not really. There isn't one person who always takes the lead or who must make all the decisions, if that's what you mean. Everyone shares their opinions freely. Everyone helps to make the decisions.

LH: Now all of you have sort of gone off, as you mentioned to me earlier, gone off and done your own work right? You come together for F4 and then you go off to do your own work. Why do you do this? Why don't you just stay as F4?

VIC: We don't really split up. After Meteor Garden, the four of us were offered a lot of other projects. And not all the projects were appropriate for the four of us. So we had to be selective. Like when I go to do a drama, maybe Ken would make an album instead, or maybe someone else would go and make a movie. We each have our own interests, our own strengths. I guess we all just got busy. But we always make time for F4. Like for this concert tour, we made an effort to clear our schedules so that we can do this together.

JER: (teasing) Actually, what happens is that Vic is always going off to make movies and the three of us would be left here with nothing to do. So we'd have to find our own projects... just to keep busy! (everyone laughs)

VS: I think in the long run, it reverts back to our personalities as well. Because our personality is so different and we have so many different interest as well. You know, so we of course, as a human being, would want to peruse our own interests, to do other things that we have more passion for. But then yet, when the timing calls for us to come back again, we will always be here.

LH: Jerry let me just continue with you. A little bit on the personal for each of you individually since you're such individuals. You started as a model. Was show business, entertainment, movies, TV always an ambition of yours?

JER: Er... yes I think so. When I was a model, it was natural to think about going into entertainment. That's why I was happy for the opportunity to act in a drama. Then after I had a chance to try acting, singing and dancing, I realized that I really enjoyed it and that performing was something I wanted to do more of.

LH: Vic you were studying engineering. What did you want to do? Did you really want to be an engineer?

VIC: Actually there's a funny story in that. At the time, the reason I chose to study engineering was because of my older brother. I was lazy, and I thought it'd just be easier to just follow in his footsteps. Whatever he did, I just did the same. Whatever school he went to, I wanted to go too (laughs). Then in the third year of studying engineering, when we were about to graduate, I realized I didn't really want to be an engineer! I thought, why did I choose this course? (laughs)

In the end I think I was lucky that in my first job, I met these guys, the other 3 members, and I found them inspiring... All these years, I've learnt so much from them.

LH: Right. Vanness, born in the United States of America, what brought you to this part of the world?

VS: Well I was always interested in performing. I was into dancing when I was at a very young age, so...and plus a lot of my friends were older then me and they were in the entertainment industry already. So I was pretty much surrounded by it when I was growing up and then I was working at a dead end job so...

LH: And what was that?

VS: It was customer service, if you can believe that. And then my friend told me you know, 'what are you doing in America right now?' I said nothing much. He said well why don't you go back to Taiwan and do nothing much in Taiwan and who knows, maybe you'll get famous. And luckily enough gods blessed me so... I'm here!

LH: Right, now you've worked with people from all kinds of backgrounds. How do you feel about this sort of blending of different backgrounds?

VS: I love it, I love it! I think it's a wonderful thing and it's a great opportunity to have a mixture of so many different cultures and personalities. It's a real gift -- you know you really see the world and get to meet different people, so I'm really blessed I think.

LH: Yeah I can imagine. Ken you were born in Taiwan, but you lived for some time in Singapore right?

KEN: Yeah, (LH: I cant hear that Singapore accent) -- oh if you want it I can ... but you got to give me a Singapore accent first (LH: Okay, okay, okay la!) Okay, la and stuff. I try not to you know -- because Singapore accent is for the local stuff. When I go to Singapore I do the Singapore accent.

LH: I'm fascinated by your cook book. It's called Darling Let's Cook Together right? I mean how did that idea come about?

KEN: Well actually I, I cook for myself all the time. (LH: Do you cook for these guys too?) Yeah sometimes (LH: Right!) Sometimes! If someone's heart broken and stuff... (all laugh)

LH: Heartbroken!

KEN: I'm just kidding! I cook because I don't like to eat outside food you know, it makes me feel sad.

LH: So is it fun, relaxing to you or just something you love to do?

KEN: It's just something I love, something that keeps me sane!

LH: Good. Good for you! It seems, and I mention this very briefly just now, that you go on tour as F4, then you go and do your solo work and this sort of continues right. Will there come a time when you have to say, okay I've got to choose between staying with F4 or doing my own solo career.

KEN: I think it is up to our fans, you know.

VS: Yeah, pretty much. I don't really see that anywhere in the future that there will be a decision like that. Because this has been working so well already -- we do our own thing, and then we come back. And then so...

LH: How does the solo work that you do compliment the work that you do as F4? Or does it?

KEN: Actually this concert we are having, we have a lot of personal stuff inside it. You know. For each part we have individual parts and the time for us to do different performance. And then we have the combined performance. So I think the solo stuff does help us in, you know, getting us more and more ready for the new challenge and stuff.

VS: Yeah we grow as an individual and we grow as a group. So...

LH: Is it important to you to come across with a very clean image, with a very proper image -- an image that maybe parents would be happy with? Is that important to you when you have so much influence with younger people?

VS: I think that's important in Asia. Yeah, in Asia you really have to have a clean image. But we're only human (laugh), and we just try to do our best and try to live, you know, a proper and right life that is for us.

LH: Does it require a lifestyle adjustment for you?

VS: Oh yeah, I mean there are times when we want to go out but we can't. You know, especially around here too -- the paparazzi follows us.

LH: Yeah I was just going to say, how do you keep them away?

VS: We can't!

KEN: By not leaving the house!

JER: Just DVDs! (laughs) DVDs keep me company. I spend a lot of my time indoors watching movies on DVD.

LH: (laughs) It sounds pretty boring to me.

KEN: That's why I started cooking! That's why I actually started cooking! (VS: That's why I exercise!) That's why I have pets. (LH: You have pets, wonderful!) I have three cats.

LH: Great. Was it worth it gentlemen. Is it all worth it?

VS: For me it is. I think so. I came out with three good friends, a career, you know, a chance to travel and meet new people.

VIC: Yeah, it's worth it. It actually hasn't really impacted my life. I'm the sort who would normally stay home quietly anyway! (laughs)

LH: Gentlemen, we're going to take another very, very short break. When Talk Asia comes back we'll find out what F4 thinks about the competition from Japan and Korea. Stay with us.

Block C

LH: Welcome back to Talk Asia, I'm with Jerry, Vanness, Vic and Ken of F4. Gentlemen you are hot in Japan right now. I mean is that an important market for you?

VS: I think every market is important to us right now. You know it's another chance to explore a different country, get to better know a different part of the world, you know.

LH: So do you feel, Jerry for example, that there is a need to break into different markets now in order to stay ahead of you know -- so many new singers coming out these days, right? I mean they're young, they're energetic -- I mean there's so many of them. In order to stay ahead do you feel that it is important to break new ground, break into new markets?

JER: How we do as a group depends on fate. I really believe that. My own personality is such that when I make a TV show or movie, I just want make it as good as possible and have as many people as possible watch it. To me, it's not about the competition. Working hard is all about growing and improving my talent, so that I can develop as a person and entertainer.

LH: Ken?

KEN: I'm just trying to make a living, you know. (LH: laughs) It is okay for me because I'm not...I love this job, I do love my job but it is not like a career to me. I mean, I am growing up, I am getting older, I have got to think of something else, you know. Because I don't think this is permanent to me.

LH: Yeah but I mean there's so many new faces coming out Vanness, they are competition right? I mean in a sense?

VS: Well in a sense if people look at it that way. I think for us we try to do our jobs and you know, try to, try new things, you know. I'm always up for different roles, different type of things. The market... my dream -- my ambition -- to pursue right now is, I really want to break through into acting in America, so you know. (LH: Wow.) It's hard because Asians as a whole, we do get type-casted and stereotyped, especially in America. You know, its either you're really good in martial arts or you know, you're a math genius, you know? So yeah, but hopefully we can bring new depth to the American market.

LH: You're Taiwanese, you travel around the world to a lot of places. Do you ever get drawn into politics?

VS: Not really, no. Our job is too time consuming to get dragged into politics.

LH: But how did you feel when let's say the TV series was banned in China and your two concerts were cancelled?

KEN: We have to thank them actually. (LH: You have to thank them? Why?) This is how we got famous in China. (VS: Good point! Laughs) It is. (LH: Any publicity is good publicity). No, okay, when we first went there our show was banned in China, we were all... (VS: Pretty distraught.) Yeah. And then after a while, we kind of realized that the more the government wants to ban, the more the people want to see, and that's how we got famous actually.

LH: Is there a new album you're working on at the moment?

VS: I am working on my next solo album.

LH: Your next solo album right. Anything different from previous?

VS: It's... well right now the producers and the lyrics are done by myself and my group of people that I've come work with, so its basically like my own personal music diary.

LH: Right, anybody else working on a new album or...?

KEN: Actually the four of us are going to have a new album coming out, I think this year (LH: Great. F4?) Yeah. (LH: Great.) The exact time we don't know yet.

LH: Anything special, anything different from the previous albums?

KEN: I think the very different part will be our vocals because the previous time we record an album was about 3-4 years ago.

VS: Three or four years ago, and I think our vocals have improved since then! (laughs)

LH: All this non stop lifestyle that you have, how do you deal with it? I mean has there come a point where you really just want to shut off for a little while? I mean you seem to go for F4 to solo and then F4 -- you know its like non stop.

JER: Oh it's not like that at all. It's not a bad thing. What we gain is more than what we lose.

KEN: Actually we do enjoy working with each other. That's the thing you know, when we don't see each other for a while and we meet each other, it feels better actually.

LH: What is the best thing about being in F4?

VS and KEN (stare at the ceiling in deep thought): Hmmmmm. (laughs)

LH: Aww, it shouldn't take that long!

KEN: I never think about that...

VS: There's so many, there really is. (LH: Just one) Just one. Me personally, I can help my family out more. So I can take care of my family, so that's the best part of it.

VIC: I think the best thing about being in F4 is the sense of unity that we have among the four members. I've never felt like I was alone or had to do a job by myself. Regardless of what challenges I face, I always have three other people whom I can go to for help. These people also inspire me to do better. And their inspiration has been what's helped me grow and improve.

LH: Right. Ten years from now, lets suppose the name F4 is still out there in conversation. How would you like to be talked about?

JER: If our fans, all the people who have followed us and who have worked with us...if they all have some good memories, that would be enough.

LH: Well gentlemen, thank you all very, very much for spending time with us. Vic, Ken, Vanness, Jerry -- thank you all very, very much. (F4: Thank you.) And that has been talk Asia this week, my guests have been Taiwanese pop idols, F4. I'm Lorraine Hahn, let's talk again next week.

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