It’s almost an understatement to say that 2016 has been a year of radical change for Rhydian Vaughan. The 28-year-old Taiwanese-British actor welcomed a son at the beginning of the year, before recently tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend. Despite all the developments in his personal life (that he stays rather private about, for the record), the heartthrob’s career hasn’t regressed one bit. In fact, Rhydian tells us in Taipei that he’s been busy promoting his latest film, My Best Friend’s Wedding, a romantic comedy and Chinese production that also stars Shu Qi, Victoria Song and Feng Shaofeng. “It was a really fun project that we shot in Europe. We kept most of the original story line for this remake film, but we also put our own take on it. I’ve been promoting that up till the last few weeks,” he adds.
It’s easy to see why the newly minted family man has no problems balancing his day job with the roles of being a father and husband: he’s learnt a lot from his parents, a violinist dad and performance artist mom. “They can be quite abstract sometimes, but I think they’re great examples of how to be unique in this world, and not be afraid to be different. They are constantly breaking patterns. Creativity comes from experience and observation, and these are great values my parents passed on to me,” says Rhydian Vaughan.
Although he admits that fatherhood is keeping him more occupied than ever, Rhydian promises he isn’t about to take a break anytime soon. “I’ll be working on more overseas projects. There’s one lined up for me in Macau, and a few in China as well,” he adds.
Tell us about what you’ll be busy with for the rest of the year.
I haven’t done quite that many romantic comedies, but after My Best Friend’s Wedding, there is another one coming up from me soon: a Taiwanese production called My Egg Boy with Ariel Lin. She’s fresh, energetic and has great vibes when she’s on set. The project wants to speak to people who are successful in their careers but haven’t gotten married yet. The film also touches on food, which everyone is passionate about.
Since we’re on the topic, what is your favourite food?
It’s hard to say what cuisine I’m into, but I definitely care about where the produce is from. “Organic” is a big word these days, I like to have food that I know isn’t chemically contaminated.
How has life changed for you since becoming a husband and father?
Drastically, but then in some aspects, nothing has changed. I do a lot more on a daily basis, especially when I’m not working – I’m at home, waking up really early, and going to bed really early. I get to see sunrise and sunset now. We have a new balcony on our rooftop, so we can have a little walk around the house. The new roles have given me new perspectives too. We have a language barrier now, of course, so all our communication is so instinctive. I think I’ve always balanced my work and my personal life – I usually work about six to eight months a year, and the rest of the time is for me to develop, and do what I want to do.
Of all your acting projects, which have been the most memorable ones?
They would have to be the three that I did in Taiwan: Winds of September, Monga, and Girlfriend, Boyfriend. These films are my base, and they are all equally important to me. The characters that I played were all leaders of groups, but the films were all set in different eras – so I really got to learn about Taiwan. Taiwan can be a really fast-paced place, and people don’t really know its history.
Which of your co-stars has inspired you the most?
Sean Lau [Ching-wan]. Although he didn’t actually give me a word of advice, I got to see how he works when we filmed together, and how he’s at ease and just moves in and out of character. I really respect him. I haven’t worked with that many actors who are that experienced. The younger actors now are from such a different generation, and when the industry is expanding in so many ways, it’s easy to lose your identity.
Who are your film idols from the East and West?
I think it’s hard to get away from the influence of Steven Chow. I still have friends from school who make facial expressions or use lines from Steven Chow’s films. Ang Lee is a big influence for me too – Pushing Hands really taught me about storytelling. Zhang Yimou’s and Gong Li’s early works also shaped me in a big way. From the West, there’s Sam Rockwell. He’s quite low-key, and he was in this film called Welcome to Collinwood. That story really stuck with me. When I’m thinking about a new character, I always go back to Sam Rockwell’s work to see how I can add playfulness in my acting.
Who would you love to collaborate with next?
Like everyone else, I’d love to work with Ang Lee. I’d love to work with Jiang Wen. I’m desperate to work with Chen Jianbin. From his roles and his approach to acting, I can see he’s so advanced and relaxed.
We’ve read about your early experience in the Shaolin Temple. Has that left an impact on you in any way?
I was only there for less than a year, so my training wasn’t complete. I was also only six-years-old, but what I took away is that a man only needs the most basic things: a body he needs to learn how to use, his mind, and the sun and the moon. Everything else is extra. So I think I know how to be with nothing – that’s what I’d like to think anyway.
How would you describe the Rhydian Vaughan style?
I like vintage stuff a lot. There’s a forgotten story there for me to discover. I think it’s hard to look at classic stuff when it’s 2016. Vintage is classic, to me. I do most of my shopping for vintage stuff when I’m travelling.
On your off days, how do you like to unwind?
I like to cook all types of food. I also like to play guitar and drums.