China searches for actor to play model citizen

Beijing: A Chinese movie is finding it hard to find an actor, not taller than 5`10", for performing the role of country`s model citizen Lei Feng, a news agency has reported.

A soldier of the People`s Liberation Army, Lei died in an accident in 1962 at a young age of 22. He turned the national icon a year later after Chairman Mao Zedong asked the country to learn from Lei`s passion of helping others and his devotion for work.

The official publicity campaign has ever since projected a perfect image of Lei as a lofty altruist and Chairman Mao`s good soldier.

The producers of the biopic of Lei Feng are struggling to find a lead star who is around the height of China`s renowned good Samaritan and could justify his personality.

Defining Lei as a figure who was stunted in appearance but tough at heart, and warm- hearted and optimistic, Director Liu Yijun said he hopes to find an actor who may display such a strong contrast in personality.

The producers of the film, however, are trying to rebuild Lei`s image as an ordinary young man instead of a hero from the start.

"That`s why we insist on finding an actor who is not too tall for Lei`s real stature. We don`t want any tall stars. We hope to present a real Lei Feng to the audience," Liu said.

The production crew started the selection process in April and about 1,500 actors and performance art students have vied for the leading role. But less than 20 were shorter than 175 cm.

None was suitable for the role because of their temperament and other reasons, said Liao Mukai, deputy director in charge of the selection.

The crew may probably consider choosing actors from high school students and other amateurs, but that may also mean risks for the film which is scheduled for shooting in June, said Director Liu Yijun.

The movie to be produced by Xiaoxiang Film Studio based in Changsha, Lei`s hometown in central Hunan province, will focus on his growing up stories including his love experiences, according to the director.

Liu said it`s becoming harder today for directors to find suitable actors for ordinary roles as almost all young actors are too good looking.