Here we are, with the second edition of our much awaited feature. Your favorite authors have put together a riveting list of choicest BL actors, who have won global recognition and fandoms.
They have made some exciting and intriguing choices, which are definitely agreeable. Without further ado, let’s check out their wishlist!
I’ve always had trouble making “favorites” lists because there are so many diverse projects and actors involved in those projects. So for me, it’s all about the stories and characters an actor brings to life and how I relate to them. Certain characters leave an inevitable mark on my heart. Therefore, the actors I have included on this list are in projects that personally drew me in as a viewer. They are also on the list because they portrayed characters that spoke to me on a personal level. So, please note that while these are some of my top favorite BL actors, I don’t expect everyone to feel the same. However, I hope that this list will be reason enough to check out their projects if you haven’t already. So without further ado and in no particular order, here they are.
From the moment Xiao Zhan appeared on the screen in The Untamed, I knew the character he portrayed, Wei Wuxian, was going to own my heart. It’s tough to pull off a character that walks a fine line between good and evil, a man who exists in a blurred grey area where justice is defined not by those around you but by what you instinctively believe is right. Even if others never understand you. For me, Wei Wuxian represented the part of me that doesn’t want to be defined by how others see me. Xiao Zhan completely transformed into Wei Wuxian, making it hard to separate the two, which made me stand up and pay attention. He made me laugh, cry, and fall in love. His other projects are also worth checking out, including his upcoming releases Oath of Love and The Longest Promise.
Whether you are an avid Jdrama fan or simply an occasional Jdrama viewer, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of Japanese actor Machida Keita, whether it be in a supporting role or a starring one. He has a habit of popping up in a drama or film when I least expect it, and he always impresses. For this reason, I was excited when they announced he would be one of the leads of the Japanese BL drama Cherry Magic. Just like he always does in the roles he takes on, he wholly owned the part. Machida Keita became Kurosawa, a warm businessman secretly in love with his male co-worker, Adachi. He was the warmth I needed in a time of social distancing and covid quarantines. Machida Keita is an incredibly versatile actor. From the villain in the Japanese movie Your Eyes Tell to the likable and wise Amamiya Ryoichiro in the Japanese slice of life drama Nishiogikubo Mitsuboshi Youshudou to the friend no one wanted to see hurt in the suspenseful Jdrama Alice in Borderland to the warm Kurosawa in Cherry Magic, Machida takes on each role with a ferocity that leaves an impression.
Some actors are just naturally made for the screen, actors who use their eyes, facial expressions, and body language to tell an entire story without ever opening their mouths. War Wanarat is one of those actors. I’ve only ever seen him in two short BL projects, Love Mechanics and The Best Story, and from those two mini-dramas alone, I have no doubt he has award-winning potential as an actor. He has an intimate way of expressing sadness and joy to viewers, allowing us to experience the depth of his despair and the highs his laughter brings us. He reminds me of what it feels like to watch a 3D movie. He rises off the screen and pulls you into the character he’s portraying. And considering I’ve only seen him in two short projects, the impression he left says a lot about the prosperous future he has ahead if he grabs onto it.
If you haven’t seen the Japanese movie HIS, I highly suggest you watch it right away. I’ve been a fan of Miyazawa Hio for a long time, but his role as the heartbroken Shun is one of his best performances. The entire movie is emotional, relatable, and valid, especially to gay couples who want to raise a child together under challenging circumstances, such as divorce. Miyazawa Hio gave Shun a vulnerability that pulled at the heartstrings. I wanted to fight for Shun in HIS. I wanted to fight for his relationship with Nagisa. I wanted to create the happy family environment Shun wanted for Nagisa but also desperately deserved for himself. Miyazawa Hio did a beautiful job of making viewers fall in love with him without saying or doing much at all.
Powerful is the only word needed to describe Edward Chen’s performance in the Taiwanese movie Your Name Engraved Herein. It told the story of two men who fell in love with each other during a time of turmoil and homophobia. The film followed them through their lives, their heartbreak, the decisions they later come to regret, and a realistic end for the period it takes place in. From a reserved past to a promising new beginning, Edward Chen portrays Jia-Han’s sexual awakening in a fiercely shy way. Jia-Han isn’t an outgoing character, but he’s fierce when it comes to his feelings for Birdy. That not only makes Jia-Han relatable, it also makes where this story takes viewers even more heartbreaking. The scenes between Jia-Han and the priest are especially valid and soul-piercing. I’ve always thought Edward Chen was a strong actor from previous roles, but in Your Name Engraved Herein, he stepped up his performance in a powerful way that stays with viewers long after the movie ends.
I am soft for vulnerable but fierce male leads, and nothing says vulnerably devoted like Sam Lin’s Gao Shi De in the We Best Love series. His loyalty to his friends, his family, and the man he loves makes it easy to identify with him. It also makes him fallible. Shi De loves so strongly he often allows himself to be led astray out of fear. He’s afraid he’ll hurt the ones he loves, and because of this, he makes regretful decisions but is steadfastly loyal when it counts. Sam Lin embodied everything that made Shi De the character he is to the point the actor himself struggled physically while filming. There’s something to be said for an actor who gives so much of himself to a role, and for that, he deserves his spot on my favorites list.
Shih Chih Tian
I’m always a little wary when actors portray characters with disabilities or mental disorders because I’m scared they won’t be able to pull it off. As an actor, playing a mentally challenged role comes with the added pressure of satisfying viewers who are either diagnosed with the same disorders or who face people in their lives who are. I am the aunt of an autistic niece on the severe end of the spectrum. My niece is nonverbal and uses a device to communicate. At sixteen, she is also in adult diapers and requires a lot of care. So for me, seeing Shih Chih Tian portray a character with high-functioning autism and other mental disorders in Fighting Mr. 2nd felt very personal. He not only pulled it off well, he was able to convey sincerity and love for the man he fell for, a man also dealing with his own diagnoses. Although Shih Chih Tian’s character, Yu Zhen Xuan, was part of a secondary loveline and not featured as the main couple of the series, the love story between Yu Zhen Xuan and Pei Shou Yi felt bigger than the drama itself. I need to see Shih Chih Tian in many, many more projects.
Choi Chan Yi
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read my love letter to Choi Chan Yi’s character Da On, but in case you didn’t, he made my favorites list because he portrayed a personally valid character for me. In the Korean BL Light On Me, Da On is a bright character who becomes the focus of lead character, Tae Kyung’s, devotion. Tae Kyung falls in love with Da On, and as feelings develop between them, it begins a very personal journey for Da On full of confusion and fear. Choi Chan Yi did a remarkable job taking Da On through a complicated range of emotions while never entirely losing the smile that everyone expected from Da On. I related to this because his story is my story. His story represented many of us in the community who don’t feel safe coming out, who battle with their own internalized homophobia and confusion. He embodied many of us who need to fall in love with ourselves and our desires before fully loving someone else. Seeing Da On achieve that self-worth and confess his feelings felt both personal and validating for me, and actor Choi Chan Yi did a fantastic job taking on this character.
What can I say? If you’ve seen I Told Sunset About You and I Promised You the Moon, then you know why this actor made my list. Every viewer who watched this two-part drama felt conflicted over Teh and his decisions, over his fight for his dreams, and the love smothered in the process. People shouted and cried and ranted on social media, which says a lot about Billkin’s performance. He brought Teh to life in a remarkable way, realistically tackling the confusion of realizing he was falling in love with his same-sex friend as well as the turmoil of keeping that love alive while fighting for a dream he’s always wanted to achieve. Mistakes were made. Regrets were had. Hearts were broken. Tears were shed. And somewhere in the process, I realized Teh was now a part of me and that Billkin had managed to pull that off. Whatever project Billkin decides to take moving forward will only be better for having him in it.
Like Billkin Putthipong, PP Krit stole my heart in his role as Oh Aew in the two-part Thai drama I Told Sunset About You and I Promised You the Moon. The story that unfolded between Teh and Oh Aew is intense, and at times, unforgiving. Oh Aew battled with body dysmorphia and heartbreak. He wanted to be the man Teh needed in his life to feel successful, but he also needed to be the kind of man he could be comfortable with himself. In the end, Oh Aew chose himself and then let Teh back into his life. It takes exceptional actors to pull off the chemistry and complex story that PP Krit and Billkin Putthipong managed to pull off with Oh Aew and Teh. They gave the world something to talk about, relate to, and be angry at. For that reason alone, I’ll watch anything either actor chooses to be a part of.
Passion. That’s the word I’d choose to describe Thai actor Boun Noppanut. Although his most memorable role for me is Win in the Thai drama Until We Meet Again, there is something incredibly passionate about the way he tackles life both online and in his career that makes watching him feel important. He makes this list because not only is his character in Until We Meet Again memorable, so is the real-life Boun that portrays him. He makes audiences care for him, and this ability has a lot of potential for the roles he plays. As he takes on more roles and becomes more potent as an actor, his ability to draw people in will play in his favor. Although I see some room for improvement in some of his performances, I have no doubt he will keep rising to become an actor people won’t forget. I am highly anticipating the 7 Project he’s a part of with fellow actor Prem as well as the drama Between Us, which will tell the whole story behind his Until We Meet Again character, Win. Bring it on, Boun. I have faith in you.
And to end things, I would like to add a very special honorable mention. Because the Korean drama The Devil Judge isn’t technically billed as a BL drama, I don’t want to assume that it is, which is why these two actors didn’t make it onto my main BL actor list. However, the bromance between actors Ji Sung and Jin Young in The Devil Judge should not be missed, the feelings left unexplored leaping off the screen. Therefore, I highly recommend every drama these two actors have ever been in (they are all amazing) as well as their fantastic bromance in The Devil Judge. You won’t regret it.
This small, petite, beautiful man is a reckoning force of talents, as he takes up any role and makes it his own. While bringing scripts to life, Fluke embraces every role he plays. Whether he is a tootsie young man on a haunted ship with two idiots for companions; Or a baking genius in a reincarnation saga, of a suicidal man reliving his pain whenever he is in the presence of a certain handsome swimmer. Fluke plays each character with ease. He brings a different level of realism to each role, even if the production is terrible. He always does his best and that’s why he is one of my favorite actor.
Tall, dark haired with a devilish smile, Kao exploded into the BL spectrum because of UWMA. He had proved to be an indomitable actor with a wide range of acting talents. Whether it is playing a closeted gay son of a mafia boss, or a lovesick actor manipulating his potential love interest, Kao has mastered the art of method acting. I can’t help but swoon or cry at the roles he plays and the passion he brings to each role. He is such an amazing actor as he continues to be a trailblazer in the Thai BL industry.
A young man who draws your attention from the ensemble cast of characters around him and creates memorable roles from the small snippets he gets. Years ago, Drake starred in the hit show “Cause I’m Your Boy” and since then, he has been cast as a side character in his other series. Despite being supporting roles, Drake managed to steal the thunder with his finesse acting, getting fans to swoon over him, irrespective of the role he plays. As Mil, the villainous man in love or as the sexually confused Mork, he is a true chameleon always adapting to new roles and challenges.
We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you updates from the BL world!