The next morning, Sheng Jiaoyang found the atmosphere strange the moment she stepped into the filming site. Before she could even ask what had happened, a call came in.
It was Xu Ping.
"Sis Ping, wait, let me make a guess first," Sheng Jiaoyang spoke before Xu Ping could say anything.
"You already saw it?" Xu Ping sounded a little surprised.
"Did I get embroiled in some scandal again? With who? Zhang Yue?" No matter how Sheng Jiaoyang racked her brains, she could only think of Zhang Yue, who was present at the gathering yesterday. After all, they had previously acted as an on-screen couple and being captured in a private photo together would indeed spur many thoughts.
Xu Ping sighed. Seems like Jiaojiao is still the same Jiaojiao after all - not the least bit sensitive to gossip news.
"It's not Zhang Yue, but Gu Zhou."
"Huh?" Sheng Jiaoyang was dumbfounded.
"Someone took a photo of Gu Zhou helping you into your hotel room in the middle of the night."
Sheng Jiaoyang raised an eyebrow and turned to look at Zeng Huan beside her. The latter then passed her mobile phone in silence. On the screen was a photo which depicted two back views. One was Gu Zhou in pyjamas and the other was Sheng Jiaoyang, who was leaning on Gu Zhou as the former looked to be helping the latter into the room.
At one glance, Sheng Jiaoyang understood the situation.
"When did he leave after helping me into my room?" she asked Zeng Huan.
"Around two minutes," Zeng Huan recalled.
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded and spoke to Xu Ping on the other end of the line, "Make a trip here and help me to retrieve the CCTV recording from the hotel. You know what to do after that, I'm counting on you for this."
"Okay, I'll be right there."
"And how's Ye Zi?" Sheng Jiaoyang thought of another matter.
"A changed person," Xu Ping replied.
"Oh? Bring her over for me to have a look."
Zeng Huan spoke up when she saw Sheng Jiaoyang hang up the call, "I didn't see anyone else in the corridors last night, who on earth could have taken this photo?"
"We will know when we review the CCTV recording," Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at Zeng Huan, "But weren’t you the one who brought me back last night?"
"Yeah, when I was trying to open the door last night, you knocked on the next door while I wasn't looking. Then, Prince Charming Gu came out and helped you into the room."
"Ah, Prince Charming Gu is coming over," Zeng Huan said softly.
Sheng Jiaoyang turned to see Gu Zhou walking towards her. His long black robes with stripes of red, coupled by his hair bun made him look extremely tall and dashing.
"Did you have a good sleep last night?" Gu Zhou asked with a smile.
"Replying to Your Majesty, I did." Sheng Jiaoyang greeted according to how Wu Qinghe would have done so in the drama.
Gu Zhou smiled and teased, "You can receive your boxed lunch today."
By ‘receiving boxed lunch’, Gu Zhou meant that Sheng Jiaoyang had finished shooting all her scenes and could wrap up and leave.
"Yeah, it's a wrap for me after completing the scene today."
The other people, piqued with curiosity, secretly sneak glances at the two who were engaged in a hearty conversation. However, due to the pair's status, the onlooking crowd didn't have the courage to approach them to ask.
But, a certain someone was not part of this particular crowd. Qu Wen deliberately approached them and asked casually, "What's going on between the both of you?"
"What do you mean by what's going on?" Sheng Jiaoyang retorted.
"When I unlocked my phone this morning, the first thing that popped up was the gossip news about both of you. I still found it strange. Jiaojiao, Didn't you go out to party last night? Gu Zhou didn’t complete shooting the night scenes with me until around 11 or midnight. How did both of you get together again?”
Sheng Jiaoyang had been observing Qu Wen's expression, but the latter's expression was natural with no cracks.
"I came back later than you guys last night. I drank a bit, was a little drunk and I knocked the wrong door and woke Brother Zhou up," said Sheng Jiaoyang as she shot a glance at Zeng Huan.
Zeng Huan got the message and followed, "Jiaojiao, you were so heavy after getting drunk that I couldn't even drag you. Luckily, Prince Charming Gu came out to help, or else, it would have been really troublesome."
"Seems like I have to hire a stronger assistant."
"Rather than hiring a strong assistant, why not drink less?" Gu Zhou replied.
"You say it as though I am a drunkard," Sheng Jiaoyang squinted her eyes at Gu Zhou.
Gu Zhou smiled.
"I will go get changed." Sheng Jiaoyang then left.
Gu Zhou greeted Qu Wen and then went to the side, sat down and started to memorise his lines.
Standing beside Qu Wen, Qu Wen's assistant said, "Judging from how close they are, those who have no idea would really think that there's something going on between them."
A subtle glint flashed across Qu Wen's eyes. She kept her mouth shut. She had always been behaving very cautiously when she was in public. She didn't depend on pure luck to attain the status and fame that she had today. Though she really disliked Xu Jiaojiao whom she thought had risen up to fame due to the latter's backing, she usually acted as though they were close friends on set such that no one would ever suspect her of anything.
Due to Sheng Jiaoyang’s high efficacy, the shooting schedule progressed much faster than planned. Today, she would be shooting her final scene.
Sheng Jiaoyang changed into her armour and her hair was tied into a bun. The makeup-artist did a heroic look on her and filled her brows in with a strong accent, making her features even more pronounced. She held a pike in hand and wore a large red clock. Her long and slender figure flawlessly depicted Wu Qinghe's graceful bearing on the battlefield.
Everyone who saw Sheng Jiaoyang couldn't take their eyes off her. Compared to her sultry and elegant makeup as the Imperial Consort, her current valiant look appeared more dazzling.
Director Ma's eyes brightened up when he saw Sheng Jiaoyang and hurriedly called the scriptwriter over. The two muttered between themselves for a few moments before the scriptwriter took his laptop to the side, sharpened his knives, and tapped away fervently on his keyboard, editing the script.
"Jiaojiao, come over. Let me explain the scene to you again," Director Ma beckoned Sheng Jiaoyang over, his face full of smiles.
Sheng Jiaoyang went over, her expression indifferent. Anyway, it was up to however the director wanted. But after she heard what Director Ma said, she then realised that she would probably not be able to wrap up for the drama today, as Director Ma clearly had added in more scenes for her.
In regards to Director Ma’s decision, everyone had different views on this. For example, Gu Zhou was not affected. On top of it, Sheng Jiaoyang was someone he admired, so he naturally felt happy about it. But someone else was not happy about it.
What does it signify if the second female lead has more scenes?
To Qu Wen, the female lead, this wasn't good news. The increased scenes for the second female lead would surely threaten her position as the female lead.
In a certain wuxia drama previously, the second female lead's character was too strong and prominent and directly rendered the original female lead to become a supporting character instead. On top of it, the audience even thought that this should be how it was supposed to be.
Although no one knew how the post-production would turn out, Qu Wen felt that her position was being threatened.
Faced with such a situation, Qu Wen couldn't confront the director directly and instead chose to call her manager and asked the latter to act as the spokesperson to deal with the production company and pressure them.
Other than that, Qu Wen even got someone to contact the original book author in private and told the author about the director increasing the number of scenes and changing the ending of the second female lead.
Actually, under the circumstance where the original author had given the copyrights for a drama adaption of the novel, they had no rights to intervene in the edit and adaption. However, the original author could express her discontent on her official Weibo account, stirring the emotions of their massive followers and the other social media users to pressurise the production team with the public's outcry.
Just as soon as the scriptwriter finished the edited script, the producer came to find trouble with Director Ma.
Director Ma, being invited to direct the drama, was also not a simple character to deal with. He easily dismissed the producer with a few words. After all, he wasn't changing the second female lead to become the female lead. He merely changed the ending and added a couple of scenes. The female lead's scenes weren't going to be reduced due to this.
The original scene which Sheng Jiaoyang was supposed to shoot today was a scene from the male lead's flashback.
In this sequence, Wu Qinghe had just returned in triumph. The male lead, who was still a prince then, was standing behind the former emperor. They stood at the city gates to welcome the Wu Army. Just then, the sight of Wu Qinghe dressed in armour and mounted on her horse galloping toward them caught the eyes of the male lead. Her blood-red cloak fluttered behind her and was a dazzling sight to see.
Due to Director Ma adding more scenes, now, Sheng Jiaoyang not only had to shoot this flashback scene but also had to shoot Wu Qinghe's ending.
The original ending was already shot a few days back. It was the sequence where Wu Qinghe wrote a bloodletter begging to see the emperor and asked the emperor if he had ever loved her. In the end, she suicided before the emperor.
Now, the ending had been modified. Wu Qinghe didn't die but returned to the battlefield instead. Though she was no longer the general in command, her Wu Army's name preceded them. The moment the enemies saw the flags of the Wu Army, their expressions changed and they immediately sent in their massive forces. Eventually, Wu Qinghe devised a stratagem, used herself as bait to fool and kill the enemy's main force, allowing her forces to achieve landslide victory.
And, in the end, Wu Qinghe died on the battlefield.
When the emperor was holding the empress's inauguration ceremony, the news of victory came fast and furious. At the same time, news of Wu Qinghe's death came as well.
Compared to previously, where Wu Qinghe died of unreturned love, her heroic death had clearly sublimated the character.
But on deeper thought, one would feel that such an ending was more deserving. After Wu Qinghe was completely heartbroken, she was destined to return to the land where her ancestors had been buried.
Of course, if Sheng Jiaoyang were to choose, she definitely preferred the latter ending. She originally agreed to pick up this drama role not out of the amount of scenes but rather the character's complicated personality, which she felt was a mirror of herself at times.
Throughout the drama, though there were times where Wu Qinghe was blinded by jealousy and did some bad things, she was a very direct and straightforward person. She was loyal to her partner and could sacrifice her life for the person she loved. Though it might seem foolish, such foolishness would stir others to feel sorry for her.
Perhaps, to the original author, Wu Qinghe was merely an evil supporting role. Her former position as general was just to add on to her status, the explanation to her pompous character before the female lead and the other women. But now, Director Ma clearly wanted to add more dimensions to this character.
After all, to the director, he wasn't looking for the main lead to be overly brilliant but rather wanted the shows he directed to leave a deep impression on the audience. So when the world criticised him for being disrespectful to the original work, he stood up to the pressure. As for the pressure from the production studio, he strongly believed that no one would complain once he showed them the finished cut.
Now, it was another battlefield on the Weibo feeds of Director Ma, Sheng Jiaoyang and the drama's production team official account.
When the mass public heard of Xu Jiaojiao having more scenes added, they immediately thought that her backing had intervened once again and felt that the director must have received many benefits. Many fans of the original book vowed to boycott scenes with Xu Jiaojiao.
Meanwhile, our Miss Jiaojiao, in the midst of the hatred and backlash, was so tired that she fell asleep on the filming site.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Cosy | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace