China remains strict on the rules regarding the representation of LGBTQ+ themes on the screen. However, a genre of primarily LGBTQ+ literature has arisen from China, which features a magical world. It is called Danmei. There are two kinds of worlds in Danmeis — the first is the wuxia, and the second is the xianxia world. These wuxia and xianxia novels, when adopted on the screen, have to shed homosexual themes. However, the excitement of danmeis remains the same all around the world. People excitedly share leaks, costume designs and their opinions on the actors even before the show’s release. Dramas adapted from danmei novels have created waves. So, read on to find out who the Top 10 Chinese Actors who played in exciting danmeis are.
1. Xiao Zhan
First and foremost, we shall begin with the show that brought many people to discover danmei. If you’re into BLs, you have probably guessed it already. Yes! We are talking about The Untamed (Chen Ching Ling), based on the xianxia novel Mo Dao Zu Shi. The story follows the journey of two cultivators, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, as they uncover a dark conspiracy that threatens their world. Xiao Zhan's portrayal of Wei Wuxian in "The Untamed" was widely praised for his ability to bring the character's complex emotions to life on screen. He successfully portrayed Wei Wuxian’s many personalities, excelling at both the carefree and vexatious side and the serious and conflicted one.
2. Wang Yibo
Wang Yibo played the role of Lan Wangji in The Untamed. He too was praised widely for his top-notch portrayal of the incredibly complex character that is Lan Wangji. Wangji is a character who rarely shows his emotions and keeps all his love and pain hidden inside. Yibo was flawless on the screen as he focussed heavily on micro-expressions. One could easily see the slight lift of his lips as he smiled at his beloved. It filled fans with awe to see a stern character played almost effortlessly well.
3. Gong Jun
Many danmeis have come and gone, but rarely does one make noise enough to draw in people from all walks of life. Word of Honor or Shan he Ling is a wuxia drama that follows a retired assassin and a slighted orphan out to get revenge. Gong Jun played the latter role. He played it with flamboyance and attention to detail (and a red eyeliner look that garnered appreciation from far and wide). Gong Jun’s popularity skyrocketed after this particular role. He went on to do several dramas afterwards.
4. Zhang Zehan
Zhang Zehan played the role of a retired assassin, believing he deserved a painful life atoning for his sins. Fans loved his performance because he effortlessly carried the depth of Zhou Zishu in his veins. He portrayed his pain, sadness and the difficulties of a guarded heart exceptionally well on screen. Though the aftermath of it all was not favourable for him, he left a mark on everyone’s minds and made sure to leave Zhou Zishu as a memorable character.
5. Song Weilong
A danmei drama that recently made waves on the internet is A League of Nobleman, 2023. Weilong Song played the role of an orphan in this drama. His character’s name is Zhang Ping, and he comes from a province to Beijing to attempt to take the civil services examination. However, given his financial state, he makes and sells noodles for a living. Weilong has perfectly portrayed Zhang Ping’s personality. He plays the nosy, unsophisticated, yet clever role like second nature!
6. Boran Jing
Boran Jing played the role of Lan Jue in A League of Nobleman. His character was the polar opposite of that of Zhang Ping. While Zhang was brute and loud, Lan Jue was sophisticated, mysterious and well-mannered. Boran Jing and Zhang Ping meet when they try to solve a case together, and it develops into a loving chemistry between them. Like the other actors in this list, Boran Jing has done a great job of portraying a complex character precisely through his skills.
7. Luo Yunxi
Apart from the novels of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, one that is loved by many is The Husky and His White Cat Shizun. It has been adapted to the screen in an upcoming drama called Immortality. Luo Yunxi plays the role of Chu Wanning, the world’s most influential cultivator. He is a virtuous man who uses his powers for the better of the world. Not only does this inspire his disciple Mo Ran but also saves the heavens from splitting apart. Luo Yunxi has been anticipated greatly in the role of Chu Wanning and it would be safe to say that Immortality has made significant waves among the drama-watching community and is one the most exciting dramas to come!
8. Arthur Chen
Chen Feiyu plays the role of the ill-judged disciple of Chu Wanning, Mo Ran. He learns from his teacher that the greater good comes before personal desires. They both team up to eradicate evil and stop a heinous conspiracy. Fandoms love Mo Ran as a character, and people are excited about him on screen. Expectations for Chen Feiyu are high. And so for the drama!
9. Zhang Linghe
It would be amiss not to mention ‘Eternal Faith’ adapted from the novel Tian Guan Ci Fu. The author is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, and it is arguably one of the most famous BL danmei novels, perhaps surpassing even Mo Dao Zu Shi. The live-action adaption for it has created significant buzz despite not being released yet. Zhang Linghe plays the role of Hua Cheng in the drama, a Ghost King of the highest rank (a Supreme). It is no doubt that the live-action will be a hit. However, it remains a point of question to see if Zhang Linghe will be able to emulate Hua Cheng.
10. Zhai Xiaowen
Zhai Xiaowen plays the role of Xie Lian, the crown prince who goes through hardship for 800 years of his life, believing that he deserves pain. He is immortal. His character is quite complex as he goes through several arcs of self-discovery and self-love, some prompted harshly by the world and some elicited by Hua Cheng. It is safe to say that everyone is excited about this drama!