The day before the second phase of filming, Yuan Ye arrived in the city where Fang Shaoyi was shooting. Their next location was in Inner Mongolia, on the grasslands.
After getting off the plane, Yuan Ye dragged his suitcase straight to the film crew, located in a village over 100 kilometers away from the city. Along the way, the taxi driver kept telling him about the celebrities who came to film this time.
It was rare for such a small place to have so many people come at once. The driver asked Yuan Ye what he was here for, and after thinking for a moment, Yuan Ye said, "Just here to do odd jobs."
The driver looked at Yuan Ye through the rearview mirror and shook his head, "You don't look like it. You're good-looking, like someone here to film."
Yuan Ye smiled, "No, I'm not. I hate cameras."
Fang Shaoyi had to rush the progress of the filming ahead of time because he had to go out and record a program. Sometimes he had to film day and night, and the actors who acted with him had to keep up with him. Everyone was working hard.
It was because he was Fang Shaoyi, and his status was there. Regardless of whether others had any thoughts in their hearts, they would not show it on the surface.
When Yuan Ye arrived, Fang Shaoyi was sitting next to the director, watching the playback on the monitor. The director was explaining the scene to a young actor, and Fang Shaoyi sat quietly on the side, listening while drinking hot water.
"You have to bring out the emotions. When it's time to cry, you have to cry. No one can face this kind of scene - your loved ones and friends dying one by one in front of you - you can't help but shed tears," the director said.
The young actor was a newcomer and was selected by Director Xin for his first film. He couldn't fully grasp the character he was playing.
The director told him, "Although he is a person who is not good at expressing emotions and has a personality that is too dull, it does not mean that he is cold-blooded and indifferent. He cannot face everything with the same expression."
The young actor nodded as if he understood. He looked a bit embarrassed and smiled awkwardly, "Director, I'm afraid I can't cry."
The director's expression was serious, and he frowned as he said, "You must cry. If you can't cry in this kind of scene, you might as well not act. This is not a small love story where you can cry easily. This is a matter of life and death. If your whole family died in front of you, would you say that you can't cry? Then you are just being yourself, not the character in the film."
Yuan Ye had actually been there for a while, just behind them, but he hadn't walked over or said anything. He sat on his own suitcase, legs on the ground, listening to the director talk about the scene.
He really wanted to hear Fang Shaoyi speak, but Fang Shaoyi didn't say a word, holding a hot water cup. Yuan Ye used to love listening to Fang Shaoyi talk about these things and loved watching him film.
Some people are just born to do this job. As long as he's in the scene, his whole person is shining with charm. Fang Shaoyi is that kind of person.
The young actor left, and the director watched the monitor playback again, asking Fang Shaoyi, "What do you think?"
Fang Shaoyi didn't speak, just shook his head gently.
The director sighed and helplessly laughed, saying, "Take it slow, he looks the part but just can't act."
Fang Shaoyi also chuckled and added, "There's no actor that Director Xin can't train. There's no one under you here who can't act."
The director shook his head and replied, "That's easy to say, but it takes too much time. Everyone has to work together to train them. It's easy to train a full cast of newcomers, but when there are one or two who can't act, who will keep them company to train them? Just now, Yao Hua was so frustrated he stormed off."
Fang Shaoyi didn't say much, he just took a sip of water to moisten his throat and lowered his gaze, saying, "Everyone goes through this stage, we've all been there."
Yuan Ye behind them chuckled silently. Fang Shaoyi was still Fang Shaoyi. People come from different backgrounds, have different attitudes, and handle things differently.
Despite his status, Fang Shaoyi never acted superior or played the diva on set. He was a man of few words, not because he looked down on anyone, but because he simply didn't like to talk much. Whenever a young actor came to him with a question, he would patiently answer.
This may seem simple, but it's rare in this industry. It's a cutthroat world where people are either lifted up or put down based on their worth and resources. Fang Shaoyi may seem distant because of his cold demeanor, but he doesn't put on airs or belittle anyone. He never acts like he's above everyone else.
All of them were movie stars, but there was a difference in character between them.
Later, it was still Ji Xiaotao who first saw Yuan Ye. He had just gone to get medicine for Fang Shaoyi and took a trip to the village to buy some things. He also bought a bowl of soup for Fang Shaoyi and brought one for the director, producer, and cinematography teacher as well.
He was surprised to see Yuan Ye and called out, "Brother Ye?"
Fang Shaoyi and the director turned their heads, and Yuan Ye smiled and raised his arm. He asked Ji Xiaotao, "Can you not shout so loudly every time you see me?"
"I couldn't control myself," Ji Xiaotao first handed out the soup and biscuits he brought for the director and others, then whispered to Yuan Ye, "How did you get here, Brother Ye? You should have called me, and I would have picked you up!"
Yuan Ye said, "No need, I just took a taxi here. We're filming again tomorrow, so I came a day early to wait."
Fang Shaoyi just glanced at him and didn't get up to greet him. He continued to sit next to the director and talk. The director was sipping soup and saying something, and Fang Shaoyi nodded along before adding his own thoughts.
It wasn't until they finished filming that Fang Shaoyi walked over. After not seeing each other for a week, he didn't seem too excited to see Yuan Ye, and his face remained expressionless. Ji Xiaotao handed him a thermos, which was still steaming. The director and crew had regular lunch boxes, but Fang Shaoyi brought his own container for his meal.
The two of them didn't speak to each other. Ji Xiaotao felt a bit awkward and asked Yuan Ye, "Brother Ye, have you eaten? Do you want a biscuit? He has a bit of a cold, so drinking soup will help him sweat it out."
Yuan Ye nodded and said, "I've already eaten, don't worry about me."
Ji Xiaotao then said, "Brother Ye, give me your things. I'll arrange a room for you."
Yuan Ye glanced at Fang Shaoyi. He did seem to have a cold, with a slightly red nose. He asked Ji Xiaotao, "Are you guys staying here for the night?"
"Yeah, we've been staying in the village. It's too far from the city, so we didn't bother."
Yuan Ye handed his luggage to Ji Xiaotao, who took it. Yuan Ye had nothing else in his hands, so he stood to the side and watched Fang Shaoyi drink his soup.
The scene was a bit comical. All three of them were standing there, but no one was really talking. Ji Xiaotao would occasionally say a few words, but the other two didn't even make eye contact.
Yuan Ye didn't even know why he was there in the first place. He hadn't thought much about it before coming, but since he had to film the show tomorrow, he couldn't keep coming from two different places every time.
Since he was already here, he might as well act the part. But now that he was standing next to Fang Shaoyi, he felt like he shouldn't have come at all.
When there was a camera in front of them, pointed right at their faces, they could still say something. But without that layer of lens, they had nothing to say to each other.
Halfway through the pot of soup, Fang Shaoyi couldn't drink anymore. He had already had two cups of hot water and his stomach was full. That afternoon, Fang Shaoyi had a performance to shoot. If there was no performance, he would just sleep in the car.
Yuan Ye squatted next to the director, listening to their heated debate with the screenwriter. Fang Shaoyi had worked with this director before, and Yuan Ye had followed the crew then. They were both familiar with the director and screenwriter.
The two of them held different opinions, discussing whether the ending for the male character should be one where he died or not. Yuan Ye squatted next to them, smoking and occasionally passing them a cigarette. It was quite interesting to listen to.
"Little Yuan, what do you think?" The director suddenly called out to him.
Yuan Ye was taken aback and laughed, "What can I say? I haven't even read the script, I don't know the background."
Director Xin looked at him, raising an eyebrow in dissatisfaction. "You were always the first to read the script for Shaoyi's plays. What are you afraid of? Tell me, I want to hear your thoughts."
Yuan Ye paused his smoking motion and shook his head seriously. "Director Xin, I really haven't seen this one."
Shaoyi's last collaboration with Director Xin was four years ago. At that time, they had to improvise and change the script on the spot every day, and Yuan Ye was often involved. He and the director often had the same ideas but would argue with the screenwriter. Yuan Ye was straightforward and said whatever was on his mind, not afraid to offend anyone.
The screenwriter laughed on the side. "Hey, you two, don't mess around. You don't seem to be getting along. Behave yourselves and don't cause any trouble."
In this circle, everyone is a savvy person. Those who can't see through things won't survive in this circle. Fang Shaoyi has no free time this year, he lives on the set and never goes home. They also don't see Yuan Ye come over to visit him.
Director Xin and Screenwriter Liu have been working together for almost twenty years. Fang Shaoyi's father has a close relationship with them, so whether it's for Fang Han's sake or Fang Shaoyi's own, these veteran screenwriters and directors look at Fang Shaoyi and Yuan Ye like they would a younger relative. They would speak to them like this, but would never do so if it were another young couple.
Yuan Ye nodded and said, "Okay, I'm listening, Liu-laoshi!"
The director smiled and said to him, "Liu-laoshi is doing this for your own good, don't resent it."
"No way, no way," Yuan Ye quickly shook his head. "How would I ever?"
Ji Xiaotao put Yuan Ye's things in the room next to theirs, another room in the same courtyard, but it only had space for things, no bed. Normally, he and Fang Shaoyi each had a single bed, but that night he gave his bed to Yuan Ye and went to squeeze into someone else's room.
Yuan Ye looked at the two rooms and didn't say much. He couldn't possibly go out and sleep with someone else, that would make people think all sorts of things. Who knows, they might even say that the assistant was trying to push him out of his position.
There was no need to be so pretentious and insist on going back to the city to stay. Everyone was tired, so there was no need to fuss around at this hour.
So Yuan Ye nodded and said, "Okay, thank you, Xiaotao."
At night, Fang Shaoyi and Yuan Ye lay on their respective beds, not saying a word. Yuan Ye could hear Fang Shaoyi coughing with a muffled voice, coughing so much that his throat became hoarse.
Yuan Ye reached for his phone and sent a WeChat message to Ji Xiaotao: "Did he take his medicine tonight?"
Ji Xiaotao replied: "I gave it to him, but I don't know if he took it or not!"
Ji Xiaotao added: "Why don't you ask him!"
Yuan Ye replied: "Okay."
Yuan Ye put down his phone and tucked it under his pillow. He turned over and faced the wall, not looking towards Fang Shaoyi's direction. He cleared his throat and spoke up: "Brother Yi, did you forget to take your medicine?"
"I took it," Fang Shaoyi replied after a few seconds of silence. His voice was hoarse as he asked, "Did I disturb your rest?"
In the darkness, Yuan Ye furrowed his brow and rested his arm on his head. "No, I just feel like you're uncomfortable," he said.
After that, the room fell silent. No one spoke, and no one coughed. Yuan Ye couldn't hear Fang Shaoyi coughing anymore. He wanted to turn over, but it was too quiet, and he didn't want to make too much noise.
A long time passed, or maybe it just felt like a long time but had only been a few minutes, when Yuan Ye heard Fang Shaoyi speak again. His voice was low and hoarse, with a hint of mocking laughter.
In the darkness, it grated against Yuan Ye's ears like sandpaper, wearing away at his heart.
"Can you still feel how uncomfortable I am?"