Despite entering the entertainment industry through Giọng Hát Việt 2018 (The Voice of Vietnam), Lương Anh Vũ (Avin Lu) is now more widely known as an actor. His recent performance in Em Và Trịnh (You and Trịnh), a biopic of songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn (1939-2001) has dominated Việt Nam’s box office in recent weeks. The artist talks about his transformation into the fabled songwriter.
Lương Anh Vũ plays young songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn in 'Em và Trịnh'. — Photo courtesy of the producers
Inner Sanctum: Being able to sing and play the guitar was an advantage in helping you be chosen to play late celebrated composer Trịnh Công Sơn. However, you initially seemed hesitant to apply for casting. Why was that?
Honestly speaking, when I decided to apply, I was worried and hesitant, occupied with thoughts of whether I should take the risk or not. The role of a young Sơn would give me pride but be a challenge. After days of wondering, I decided to try my luck because if I hadn’t, I wouldn't know if I would have another opportunity to participate in such a big film project. That is why it was not until the last day of casting deadline that I dared apply.
Inner Sanctum: How did you prepare for such a demanding role?
As soon as I was assigned the role, I told myself that what I needed was not only to imitate the look, posture, and behaviour of the young songwriter but also to partially understand his experiences. This is extremely difficult and even impossible because his experiences were already something of the past.
However, I still have very close feelings for him. He was a person who had a passion for music, singing, painting and poetry. I also wanted to do those things, so I went to Đà Lạt highland city to live alone for two months with the desire to have, more or less, emotions like Sơn had.
Inner Sanctum: What were your experiences during those months?
I have never experienced missing someone because of a long-distance relationship or being lonely because of living far from my family. So after reading the script, I wanted to get a real, emotional experience so I could act naturally while filming.
I lived in a deserted house at that time. My daily work included listening to music, reading articles and documents about Sơn, and the letters he wrote to one of his muses, Dao Ánh.
For the rest of the day, I practised handwriting, playing the guitar, singing, painting, composing and modelling clay, all of which enabled me to re-appear in his image in the film in the most realistic way.
A scene in 'Em và Trịnh' (You and Trịnh), a film on the late songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn. — Photo courtesy of the producers
Inner Sanctum: Playing the role of a celebrity like songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn, you must have been under great pressure?
I was fortunate to receive help and encouragement from Sơn’s family and the filming crew. The trust that everyone placed in me, plus the encouragement and support, helped me overcome anxiety to complete the role gradually and confidently.
I also always told myself to believe in myself, that I could do it and that I would devote my best to the role. More particularly, after Em và Trịnh was released, I received support from audiences everywhere. They have given me a lot of strength on my upcoming artistic path.
Inner Sanctum: Did you expect this role to be a turning point for your artistic career?
This is, so far, the biggest role I have ever had the opportunity to take. It has given me many things, especially experiences, and, above all, shown me the concern and affection the audience holds for Trịnh Công Sơn, a role I was fortunate to be assigned.
Inner Sanctum: Em Và Trịnh is the second film in your acting career. Compared with your first role in Sài Gòn Trong Cơn Mưa (Sài Gòn in the Rain), how was it different.
I barely had any difficulties in Sài Gòn Trong Cơn Mưa because both the character and I share many similarities in our personalities. But when I played songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn [when he was young] I had to live a different life. I had to practise imitating his habits, way of walking, speaking and manners so that the audience could find a similar image of him in his youth while watching the film.
The hardest thing was not speaking the Huế dialect, singing, or losing weight to have a body that matches the character but keeping faith that I was the character.
While Sài Gòn Trong Cơn Mưa gave me my first impressions and experiences of acting, Em và Trịnh presented me with the valuable experience of playing a big role. It was a great lesson for my growth in both acting and life. After the filming finished, it took me another half a year to get out of the role.
Inner Sanctum: Besides compliments on your acting, there have been more mixed opinions. How do you deal with negative comments?
This is my second time acting, but maybe the first time I received a mixed reaction from the audience. To be honest, I thought a lot about it and felt sad for several days, but then I overcame it and didn't let it affect me too much. I tried my best for this role, anyway.
Inner Sanctum: How are you in real life?
I'm a music lover. I lead a life like that of everyone else in real life. If I don't have a schedule, I'll usually be at home, playing with my cats or writing music.
Inner Sanctum: Having grown up since The Voice of Vietnam, you said you wanted to conquer the audience with music, but now you have become more popular as an actor. So what are your plans for music?
After Em và Trịnh, I will release music I cherish. I will reveal more about that as soon as it is ready. VNS