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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ethan Ruan: Stoked to love

STOKED to love
Actor and sometime-surfer, Ethan Ruan says it's sheer joy to be his girlfriend

By Chang May Choon

TAIWANESE actor Ethan Ruan is easily the new dreamboat for wide-eyed teenage girls fawning over his princely alter-ego in the hit idol drama You're My Destiny. But in real life, he thinks his Prince Charming quotient is 'very low'. 'I'm not like my character at all...' he told The New Paper over the phone from Taipei last week. 'My life revolves around just three things. I'd work in the morning, then go surfing in Ilan or Kenting, or play video games at home.' He also noted that he is 'very tanned' - unlike most fair-skinned royalty portrayed in television dramas.

But, he was not shy to boast that he is a superb lover who can go over-the-top with his romantic gestures, such as preparing a fireworks show just for his girlfriend. 'It's a total bliss to be my lover!' he declared unabashedly. 'I can be quite goofy and, every day, I will make her feel happy. 'I will cook for her, and I'm very good at giving presents. I will observe what she needs and prepare it for her when the time is right.'

Ethan, 26, catapulted to fame in the past six months when the drama You're My Destiny achieved a record-breaking rating of over 13 per cent (or more than 2.7 million viewers) in Taiwan and stirred up fan interest in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Singapore. He plays a mega-rich guy who has a one-night-stand with a girl (Joe Chen) on a cruise ship, but their paths cross repeatedly as he rescues her from various unpleasant predicaments. The drama is now showing on E City (StarHub Ch 56) at 7pm, Wednesdays to Fridays.

Ethan said no one had expected the drama to become such a monster hit. Some detractors baulked at the 'mismatched' pairing of Ethan and Joe, while others questioned if it was appropriate to cast Ethan, who has been playing supporting roles, as the main protagonist. The role was reportedly first offered to leading men Ming Dao and Leon Williams, who both turned it down.

Looking back, Ethan, who started out as a model before he started acting in 2004, said he must thank his critics. 'There was so much criticism, but I felt it was a good opportunity for me and I wanted to try it out,' he said. 'Thanks to them (the detractors), there was not much anticipation about the drama and I was able to film without feeling any pressure.'

He felt that the success of the drama lies in the seamless collaboration of the entire crew and cast, and how the fun and happy ambience on the set translated into an entertaining show that had viewers hooked week after week. Overnight fame has not changed his life much though, he said.

Three important things

'Still there are just three things in my life - work, surfing and video games. 'It's just that I'm now in a very comfortable state in terms of work, and I get more freedom to choose what I want to do and what kind of roles I want to play.'

However, fame did force him to swim nude in the sea in June, after You're My Destiny crossed the 10 per cent rating milestone. With a laugh, Ethan said that he did not know who made that promise in the first place, but it somehow landed on him to fulfil it. 'I've gone skinny-dipping before with my friends and it was fun, but it was so embarrassing to do it in front of the media.' He said he did it to thank viewers for their support, but drew flak from the media that it was a 'half-hearted' effort when he swam so far out before removing his trunks to wave at photographers waiting on shore.

If he had his way, he would rather make and fulfil promises that benefit society, like how he helped to clean up a certain beach in Taiwan after the drama's rating surpassed 12 per cent. 'That's more meaningful than swimming in the buff, although the latter makes a stronger headline,' he conceded.

The beach is where Ethan spends most of his free time, and his passion for surfing is obvious in the drama Wayward Kenting, which is now showing on E City (StarHub Ch 56) at 7pm on Sundays. The sporty hunk shuns popular hangouts such as night markets and night clubs because he is 'scared of crowds' and feels suffocated.

He is also feeling the intense media glare that has come together with fame, but is learning to cope. For instance, the paparazzi has been following him and snapping intimate pictures of him and his model-actress girlfriend, Eurasian babe Tiffany Hsu (It Started With A Kiss). Then, one of his ex-girlfriends blurted out to reporters that he has a 'high sex drive', which initially got him so riled up that he wanted to sue her.

But he has since cooled down and could even joke about it these days - especially when the news did nothing to dent his burgeoning popularity. 'This piece of news sure has a high entertainment value,' he said with a laugh. 'Guys do want to hear compliments that they're very strong in 'that area', but not at the expense of family. 'It's just a joke, but it's affected my parents. They're upset and it's not fair to them. No parent would want to hear people talking about their child in that manner.'

Moral of the story? Ethan said he has learnt to be more discriminating when making new friends. 'I'm a very extroverted person and if I befriend someone, I'd tell him everything about my life and family history and I'd share with him everything. I'm the sort who will give it all, but now, I've learnt to be more careful.'

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