3 Jun 2006

F4 @ CNN Talk Asia Interview

F4 @ CNN Talk Asia Interview

Note: All Jerry's and Vic's answers were transcribed through translator.
And no grammar correction has been done.

*"Season of Fireworks" plays*

Lorraine Hahn (voice-over): They are known collectively as F4. Pop idols who've been inspiring fan frenzy all through Asia since coming onto the scene in their native Taiwan in 2001. Jerry Yan, Vic Chou, Ken Chu and Vanness Wu beat hundreds of other candidates in the casting call for the drama series "Meteor Garden" based on the widely 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.

*"Can't Lose You" plays*

Lorraine Hahn: Gentlemen, welcome to Talk Asia. Thank you very much for being here with us. It's good to see you all.

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

Vanness: Bit of a shock. Yeah.

Ken: Yeah...

Van: We didn't expect it. I remember me and Jerry, uh, we were supposed to have a, uh, a fan meeting, uh, but then...

K: Yeah, the very first one we went to...

Van: And then... but then there was complete, chaos where it was packed; and then the, like the fire department said, you know, we can't show up otherwise it'll get too crazy. So the first ever fan meeting was cancelled (explains this part to Jerry in Mandarin). So that's when we realized, wow, this is, this is bigger than we ever expected; and blown away by it.

LH: Was that hard to deal with?

Jerry (through translator): Yes, it was really difficult at the beginning, when I wasn't used to it. But later, it got better when we learned 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.

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

Van: We learned... It was like a learning progress. Learning and progress.

K: We had a very good director at that time.

Each member of F4: Yeah.

Van: The director was really good. Helped us a lot with everything. He, he really built the backbone of each character as well. I mean, he would give us certain, uh, parts and... just really go with it, you know. And then, he really helped us.

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

Vic (through translator): Uh, I actually feel like the 4 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 at the office. The light was very dim and I hid in the corner against the wall. And when the director was going into his office, he saw me sitting there and thought (laughs) "why is this person here?" And then he looked again and said "this person's manner [?are really seem like?] the character of Hua Ze Lei". So he invited me to the audition.

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

Van: You know, I think a lot of times the media does blow everything out of proportion, um, just by a single sentence. You know, they can say one word and then everybody will catch off [?with the liaisons/with realizations?] "oh yeah right, yeah right." You know, "every thing is wrong. This [?might as well be gone?]". But then, if you really look at the story, uh, what is it really saying in the end, just follow your heart. You know, is it wrong to follow your heart, who can judge? You know, so...

J: Uh, oh, actually, I think that it's just a television drama. Not something that anyone should be taking 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!

F4: (laughs)

Vic: 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 (In between these statements, Ken said something to Vic which made Vic say "ha?" then went on with what he's saying)

LH: Okay gentlemen, we're gonna 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.

*"Can't Help Falling In Love" plays, cut to commercial*

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?

Van: Not really. I don't think so. I mean, cause, uh, when we work together, we work as a team. And we're pretty good as a team. Uh, I think that's one of the things that is, that stands out about us, is because our personalities is, is so different in a group. You know most… When you do see a group, a lot of personalities, they're, kinda like, like in unison. But then, for some reason, our individuality makes us that unison.

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

J: You mean the other 3 members of the group?

Van: (Pretends to cough) Ahem, ahem. Be careful. Ahem.

F4: (laughs)

LH: Wait 'til you hear the next question (laughs).

Ken: (a little inaudible) We are kinda more like partners actually...

J: Actually, you could say that the four of us are like a unit. A small family. Vanness is like a...

Vic: (own voice, not translated) Mama.

Everyone: (laughs)

J: No actually. Ken is more like the mother. Vic is like the cute, lovable, little brother. And Vanness? He's a serious and hard-working father.

Everyone: (laughs)

Van: Just call me daddy.

LH: Yeah, exactly.

Is there a leader?

J: No, not really. There isn't one person who'd always takes the lead or he 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 has, sort of, gone off, as you mentioned to me earlier, gone off and done your own, 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 4 of us we're offered a lot of other projects. And not all the projects were appropriate for the 4 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 to make a movie. We each have our own interest, 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.

Van: Yeah.

J: Actually, what happens is that Vic is always going off to make movies. And the three of us will be left here with nothing to do (laughs). So we have to find our own projects just to keep busy.

F4: (laughs)

Vic: (says something in Mandarin)

Van: I think in the long run, it reverts back to our personalities as well. It's because our personality is so different. We have so many, uh, different, uh, interests as well, you know. So we, of course, as a human being would wanna pursue our own interests to, uh, to do other things that we're, we have more passion for. But then yet when the timing calls for us to come back again, we will always be here.

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

J: Uh... 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 have 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.

Lorraine Hahn: Vic, you were studying Engineering? What did you wanna do? Did you really wanna be an engineer?

Vic: Actually, there's a funny story to that. At that 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 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 3rd 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)?

F4: (laughs)

Vic: 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 learned so much from them.

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

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

LH: And what's that?

Van: That was, uh, customer service...

LH: (laughs)

Van: If you can believe that. And then, uh, my friend told me, you know, what you're doing in America right now. I said "nothing much." She said "well, why don't you go back to Taiwan and don't do nothing, do nothing much in Taiwan and, who knows, maybe we get famous." And, luckily enough, uh, God's bless me, so, uh, I'm here.

LH: Right. Now you've worked with people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Van: (inaudible) Right.

LH: Um, how do you feel about this sort of blending of, of different backgrounds?

Van: I love it! I love it. I think it's... a, it’s a wonderful thing and it's a great opportunity to have a mixture of so many different cultures and personalities. And it's.. just, it's... like, it's a, 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, in Taiwan.

Ken: Yeah.

LH: But you, you lived for some time in Singapore right?

K: Yeah, um...

LH: I can't hear the Singapore accent.

K: Oh, if you want it, I can, you know. Well, you gotta give me a Singapore accent.

LH: (laughs) Okay, okay. Okay lah? No?

K: Okay lah. And stuff like... I try not to, you know, because, uh, Singapore accent is, is full of local stuff. When I go to Singapore, I do the Singapore accent.

LH: I'm fascinated about your cookbook. What's it called, "Darling, Let's Cook Together" right?

K: (laughs)

LH: And then how did that idea come about?

K: Well, actually, I, I cook, I cook for myself all the time, okay? I want...

LH: You cook for these guys too?

K: Yes, sometimes...

LH: Right...

K: Sometimes, you know, if... um, someone's heartbroken and stuff, y... (looks at Vic and both laugh).

LH: Heartbroken?

K: I'm just kidding you. I cook because I, I don't like to eat st... outside food, you know. It makes me feel sad.

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

K: It's just something I lov... Something keeps me sane.

LH: Uh, good. Good for you.

Um, it seems, and I mentioned this very briefly just now, that you go on tour. And then you... As F4... And 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."?

K: I think it's up to our fans, you know.

V: Yeah, yeah.

K: Yeah…

Van: Pretty much. We're... I don't really see that anywhere in the future that...

K: Mmmhmm.

V: There will be a decision like that because, uh, this has been working so well already. We do our own thing...

K: Mmmhmm.

V: And then we come back, and then so (breathes out a laugh)...

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

K: Uh, ah, actually, this concert we're having, we have a lot of personal stuff inside...

Van: Right.

J: (unrecognizable) Yeah.

K: You know. Each 4 of us, we have individual parts, [?enough/individual?] time for us to do different performance. And then we have to combine performance. So, I think the solo stuff does help us in, in, you know, getting more and more ready for the next challenge and stuff.

Van: Yeah. We, we grew as an individual. We grew as a group. So...

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

Van: I think that's important in, um, Asia (chuckles).

K: Yeah...

Van: Yeah, A... In Asia, you really have to have a, a clean image but, um, we're only human (laughs).

K: (breathes out a laugh)

V: Uh, and we just try to do our best and try to live, you know, a proper and ... right life that is for us. So...

LH: Does it require a lifestyle adjustment for you?

Van: Oh yeah. I mean, there are times where we wanna go out but we can't. Um, you know, uh, especially around here too, you know. The paparazzi follows us and...

LH: Yeah, just gonna say... How do you keep them away?

Van: We can't.

K: By not leaving the house (chuckles).

Van: Yeah.

J: (own voice, not translated) Uh, just DVD (chuckles).

J (through translator): DVDs keep me company. I spent a lot of my time indoors watching movies on DVD.

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

K: That's why I started to cooking.

F4: (laughs)

LH: Okay (laughs).

K: You think why? That's why I started cooking.

Van: That's why I exercise.

Vic: (unrecognizable) Mmm.

K: That's why I have pets (chuckles).

LH: You have pets. Wonderful...

K: I... have, I have three cat.

LH: Great.

K: Yeah.

LH: Was it worth it?

K: Mm?

LH: Gentlemen, is it all worth it?

Van: (translates question for Jerry) I, for me, it is. I think so. I cannot...

J: Mmm.

Van: With, uh, you know, um, 3 good friends, uh, a career... You know, a chance to travel, meet new people...

Vic: Mmm, 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).

F4: (chuckles)

LH: Gentlemen, we're gonna 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.

*cut to commericial*

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 important market for you?

Van: I think, uh, uh, every market is important to us right now.

Ken: Mmm.

Van: Um, you know, it's another chance to explore different country, get to, 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, they're so many of them. In order to stay ahead, do you feel that it's, it is important to break new ground, break into new markets?

J: 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 a movie, I just want to make it as good as possible and have as many people as possible watching. 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?

K: I'm just trying to make a living, you know (giggles).

LH: (laughs)

Ken: It is okay for me because, umph, I'm not, uh... I love this job. I, I do love my job. But is, it is not like a career to me. I mean, I'm, I'm growing up, I'm getting older, I gotta think of something else, you know. 'Cause I don't think this is permanent, to me.

Note: All Jerry's and Vic's answers were transcribed through translator. Vic's laughter cue follows that from his own answer, not of translator's. [??] means incomprehensible. And no grammar correction has been done.

But first things first, one thing I found out, Ken squinted his eyes upon mention that he has pets. So cute.

Please credit anyabelle of OnlyF4.com with link to her journal http://anyabelle.livejournal.com

F4 CNN Interview on Talkasia 
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