Taiwanese Trendsetter- Anson Chen

Anson Chen (birth name – Chen Li An) is a Taiwanese Actor best known for his portrayal of Teng Mu Ren in the fourth installment of the Taiwanese streaming drama anthology series HIStory. He was born on March 11, 1996 in Taiwan, China.

Towering at 186 cm (6’1), Anson is an actor and model who graduated from Department of Information Communication, Ming Chuan University, Taipei. He is also a part-time DJ under the stage name – DJ Anson and has his own Spotify Playlists (Sexuality, LIL PEARLS, etc). Recently, Anson also announced that he would be launching his own line of Pearl Jewellery (starting with Pearl necklaces), after drawing inspiration from his fans, who have been named “Pearls” by the youth actor.

ANSON’S TRACK-RECORD/ FILMOGRAPHY

● Anson began his career as a runway/fashion model. He has featured on various fashion magazines namely, Huf Magazine and Ming Weekly (as a CP with his HIStory4 co-star Charles Tu) among others.

●He made his acting debut in 2016 in the documentary film “If There Is A Reason To Study” where he played the role of himself.

●In 2017, he appeared in two music videos – Zhi Wai by Eason Chan and “二珂 Chloe Er – 櫻花粉的浪漫”.

● In 2018, he appeared in a guest role as An Jun Zhe in the series Campus Heroes, wherein his character was part of an elite group of students who enjoyed various academic as well as hierarchical privileges over a group of other students in the same campus. Although it was a guest role, Anson’s acting looked promising and with a bit of polishing, he depicted the potential to go a long way in the acting field.

● In 2021, he appeared in Andrew Tan’s Lost Soul MV, alongside his co-actor Charles. Anson reprised his role as Teng Mu Ren in two of Charles’ own music videos – Be With You (Part 1) and Be With You (Part 2).

● His first acting gig in a main role was that of Teng Mu Ren in the series HIStory4: Close To You. Mu Ren is the Manager of Sales Department 2 in the Wedding Consultant Company – Muse. His close-friend and co-worker Xiao Li Cheng is the manager of Sales Department 2. Together with their common friend – Ye Xing Si, the trio constitute their close-knit friendship group – commonly dubbed as “The Iron Triangle”. Teng Mu Ren and Xiao Li Cheng are the lead couple of this intriguing albeit controversial installment of the HIStory series.

● Mu Ren’s character can be said to be the male counterpart of an “ice-queen”. In the initial episodes of the series, he is portrayed as an unbothered king, who pays the least attention to the women fawning over his handsomeness. The only persons he seems to be expressive toward are Xing Si and Li Cheng.

Mu Ren – Xing Si Dynamics

During the early episodes, Xing Si seems to be the only person capable of bringing out the softer, warmer side of Mu Ren’s otherwise cold, unapproachable demeanor. Xing Si is definitely someone Mu Ren is extremely protective towards. He is well-informed of Xing Si’s food habits, his likes and dislikes, He is often seen worrying about Xing Si’s physical as well as mental well-being. It is very interesting to see the usually unemotional Mu Ren express such deep sentiments towards another person.

Likewise, Xing Si has a placating effect on Mu Ren, when he is often triggered by Li Cheng’s antics. During any XingRen moment in the series, Mu Ren is seen patiently and intently listening to Xing Si’s words, with Xing Si on the other hand, having such influence on Mu Ren to the point of getting him to comply with many of Li Cheng’s unreasonable and rather lame demands (such as the fake-gay-couple drama Li Cheng cooks up to pursue his initial love-interest Mei Fang, who happens to be a die-hard Fujoshi).

Playing a character with such emotional dynamics is far from easy and it is important to find that silver lining between expressing the right amount of emotions and being melodramatic. And it is safe to say that Anson Chen not only found that lining, but also gave it a dash of Li An magic!

Mu Ren – Li Cheng Relationship

Right from the beginning of the series, ChengRen are seen to be having a Tom and Jerry relationship of sorts. The hyper-active, sunny and cheerful Li Cheng never fails to get on the nerves of introverted, stoic and aloof Mu Ren.

The point to note here is that the character of Teng Muren has to constantly switch from being a stone-faced ascetic to a deeply caring, sentimental person, based on whom he is interacting with. Anson has played that switch smoothly, showing a commendable knack for precision as well as the ability to change and adapt to situations instantaneously.

PRAISE-WORTHY MENTIONS OF ANSON’S ACTING PROWESS

1. The Drugged Scene [Ep. 7]

There is one scene in the series, where Mu Ren is targeted by the Vice President (VP) of MUSE, (who is infamous for his unruly sexual advances towards male-employees of the company) and ends up being drugged and abducted by him. The VP makes inappropriate advances towards a helpless Mu Ren. The sheer fear, helplessness, and desperate cries for help Anson portrayed through Mu Ren in this scene is laudable! The said scene would not have turned out so well had Anson failed to embody the character and his then mental and physical state to the point he did. The BTS of that scene is testament to how deep Anson had delved into his character to the point he couldn’t stop crying for quite some time even after the director called “Cut”.

2. The Bath-Tub Scene (which lives in our minds rent-free) [Ep. 8]

The importance of this scene is that Anson was required to carry this whole sequence. Although Charles was also in the shot, the focus on him is bare minimum. It can be said that this was an Anson solo.

Li Cheng comes to the rescue of a semi-conscious and terrorized Mu Ren and succeeds in calming him down. Though Mu Ren is not crying and shaking in fear anymore, he is still under the heavy influence of the drug and asks Li Cheng to help him cool down his body temperature. This leads to Li Cheng taking Mu Ren to the bathroom and drawing a cold bath for him.

In Li Cheng’s Dream Sequence of this scene, Mu Ren is seen soaking in the cold bath in light, thin clothes, while Li Cheng is beside him, with his hands slowly wandering towards Mu Ren’s torso. At this moment, Mu Ren is caught in throes of passion with no escape and has no choice but to relieve himself despite the presence of Li Cheng. Anson nailed this scene and I cannot picture anyone else playing this scene in lieu of him. Everything starting from the needy, lust-filled eyes, short gasps of air, sliding of one leg up along the other, the lip bites to the soft yet sensual moans, toe-clenches and the delivery of that deal-closing line “Li Cheng, I can be the bottom”, as Mu Ren climaxes, has been executed with immaculate accuracy and perfection by Anson. Kudos to him for that!

3. The Drunk Confession Scene [Ep.13]

At the outset, it is pertinent to credit Anson for portraying the most relatable drunk ever! In the earlier episodes, Li Cheng confesses to Mu Ren and comes onto him (quite strongly too), leaving him shell-shocked. Mu Ren avoids Li Cheng for a while and an awkward and tense atmosphere sets in between ChengRen. Subsequently, Mu Ren goes through a phase of denial where he refuses to accept his own feelings for Li Cheng. Following this, Li Cheng agrees to remain “just friends” with Mu Ren and things slowly start reverting to normal for the duo. However, rumors of Li Cheng and Mei Fang begin to spread like wildfire, corroborated with clips of them exiting a hotel together. When this reaches his ears, a distressed and heart-broken Mu Ren finally realizes and accepts his feelings for Li Cheng.

In an inebriated state, Mu Ren breaks down and confesses his own feelings to Li Cheng. Anson did such a commendable job in this scene. The tears were just the right amount, the right decibel of squeakiness in his voice, the complete and utter dismantling of the walls he had held up so high to the final smile of satisfaction knowing that he has not yet lost his Li Cheng to another person – all acted out so well. Anson made sure that every emotion Mu Ren felt at that point resonated with the audience.

4. The Hotel-Room Fight Scene

Li Cheng catches Mu Ren in a compromising situation with the VP. This leads to a heated argument between the two. Kudos to Anson who conveyed a cocktail of emotions in this scene.

In this scene, Li Cheng went ballistic and Mu Ren was scared for he knew the depth of Li Cheng’s sadness and hurt. That fear is reflected so well in his eyes and face. Li Chen is usually an easy-going happy pill. He rarely gets triggered; but when he does, he goes feral! Anson skillfully pulled off a collective depiction of surprise, fear, regret and remorse in this shot.

5. The Song Scene [Eps. 19-20]

Fact remains that Charles’ song – Be With You which Li Cheng sings to Mu Ren in this episode was kept secret from Anson and his reaction during this scene was genuine. But it still turned out to be a masterpiece! Anson was not only cautious as to not lose all bearings and cry like a melodramatic heroine in a telenovela, but also made sure to express his emotions while never fully letting go of his character.

ANSON’S CHEMISTRY WITH HIS CO-STARS

ANSON AND CHARLES

ChengRen are a celebrated couple, on-screen as well as off-screen, by fans of HIStory4. They have the healthiest relationship with all the essential elements – deep emotional as well as intellectual understanding, consent, freedom, space, etc. Charles and Anson’s (CharlSon henceforth) off-screen chemistry is undeniably sweet and impactful.

In the series, Li Cheng is extremely protective of Mu Ren. Off-screen as well, Charles is seen caring for Anson in his own ways – be it offering his jacket to Anson when he’s cold, or taking the punishment for Anson during games or even folding tissues for him. Similarly, Anson reciprocates his affection for Charles through gestures such as fixing his hair, editing his pictures for him before posting on his Instagram page, and through kind and loving words. Anson further stated that Charles was always there to guide him through the filming as it was his first major role and that this immensely helped him deliver well. In their recent livestream, Charles gifted Anson a painting which represented their friendship and Anson stated that Charles would be the first person to receive his Pearl Jewellery once it was launched. Both actors unabashedly compliment each other’s visuals, with Charles being the winner of the praise-game.

They are quite comfortable with each other and this is reflected in their off-screen physical chemistry as well. Anson has been exposed multiple times for having his hand resting on Charles’ thigh and Charles comes to his defense stating that “It is his sense of belongingness”. Another evidence of their mutual comfort with each other lies in the fact that a good number of their on-screen kisses were unscripted and absolutely impromptu. Their on-screen sexual encounter is truly a whole buffet of exotic cuisines for hungry BL fans. The urgency, tension, emotional and physical yearning for one another; all sensually and passionately served hot to us by this “invincible CP”, as Anson recently stated. They have also stated that their relationship is similar to that of Goku and Vegeta – even though they have their differences, when their goal is the same, they would overlook those differences and work together to achieve that goal.

During a mid-segment surprise birthday celebration held by the cast for Anson, he was asked what were his wishes. One of his wishes was to “be a CP with Charles Tu forever”.

Charles and Anson were acquainted even prior to the filming of the series. They were in mutual friends circles and eventually met and got to know each other. During the casting auditions for HIStory4, Anson, who had already bagged the role of Teng Mu Ren, happened to run into Charles practicing his lines in the bathroom. Anson provided Charles with the right tips to appease the director and Charles followed through, successfully getting cast for the role of Xiao Li Cheng.

ChengRen and CharlSon are both worthy of the title “Power Couple” – be it visually or chemistry-wise, they are perfectly in sync and raise the bars for other couples.

EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY

Anson studied in Beijing for a period of time up until the age of 19 years, and grew up in Vietnam when he was a child. His father is a Taiwanese businessman. He can speak three languages – Chinese, English and Vietnamese, of which he is fluent in the first.

ANSON CHEN – GET TO KNOW THE PERSON

Anson is a Piscean, who is an art and music enthusiast. The HIStory4 cast have admitted that Anson can sing well. He has also done a dance cover of Chris Brown’s Kiss Kiss.

Anson is naturally a physically affectionate person. He is popular amongst the HIStory4 cast for his sense of humor and cuteness. Contrary to his on-screen character Teng Mu Ren, Anson is a very cheerful, extroverted, emotionally expressive individual. And he has opened up about the difficulty he had to face in order to stay in character through-out filming. This is what makes his character all the more challenging to play.

When asked about whether he would prefer to “chase” or “be chased”, Anson answered in the former. He stated that his ideal type was someone with long hair and eyes like that of his co-star Charles. In another interview, he further stated that he liked to be taken care of and if he were to date a person of the same-sex, his ideal type would be Charles.

Anson is often spotted rocking a pearl necklace owing to which he has been lovingly nicknamed “Pearl Chen” by many. When questioned about its significance, Anson stated that it was gifted to him by his close designer friend and that he wishes to normalize men wearing jewellery. In a world where heteronormative standards prevail, it is truly a breath of fresh air when young men take bold steps to dismantle toxic masculine constructs. He is also a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community and he has publicly stated that “according to him love transcends sexes, nationalities and skin colours”.

Overall, Anson Chen is not just a gifted and well-rounded actor, but also an enterprising individual who is always keen on exploring various opportunities available or presented to him. Charles himself has stated that he would not be able to imagine anyone else taking on the role of Teng Mu Ren after Anson’s portrayal of the character. And that resonated with all HIStory4 audiences who cannot wait to see Anson Chen in more challenging roles in the future.

References- In the comments section

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