Playing close to home


As in so many other films, Zhu Xu’s role in “Shower” is that of a devoted father. He laughs that directors tend to see him in this light and though he would like to “branch out” sometimes, he feels quite comfortable with this role. “Shower” turned out to be one of his favorite projects — he himself loves the public bath and two of his close friends were also in the cast.

“In Beijing, I’ve made it a habit to go to the baths on Mondays. All my friends are there and we chat. The scenes you see in the movie are very much the scenes you see in any Chinese public bath.”

“Shower” is a story of family ties, but Zhu says that in China, these are now eroding. “I hesitate to ask my younger friends about their wives anymore because, so often, they would have divorced since we last met.”

Zhu married his college sweetheart and has maintained a “stable and quiet family life,” which reflects on the characters he plays on-screen. Now one of the most famous and respected actors in Chinese cinema (he also worked on an NHK drama), Zhu had acted onstage until his 50s before deciding to give movies a try.

“In China, theater and cinema are clearly divided and few actors or directors venture into each other’s territories. That’s not how I see it. If one is a good stage actor, then one can do movies as well.”