Singer-actor Kris Wu wants to put his idol days behind him.
"There's an age limit to being an idol, I would rather be known for having acting chops," says the former member of Chinese-South Korean boyband Exo.
So he had no hesitation in taking on the role of the spoilt, rich brat Xiaofei in the drama Mr Six, currently showing in cinemas. When Xiaobo (Li Yifeng), son of the titular character (Feng Xiaogang), scratches his very expensive car, Xiaofei holds him hostage and Mr Six has to raise a sum of money for his release.
It might well have helped that Wu's character is no cardboard villain.
In an e-mail interview, Wu, 25, says that although Xiaofei's privileged upbringing has shaped his arrogance, at heart, he yearns for the heroic warrior code of jianghu (underworld). "I was drawn to this complicated, three-dimensional character who isn't truly a bad guy. I like to challenge myself with different roles, characters who are unlike me."
The chance to work with top actor-director Feng was another plus for Wu. "I was intimidated at first and I didn't even dare look him in the eye," says the actor of Feng, who won the Golden Horse Award for Best Actor for his performance as Mr Six and has an impressive body of work as director which includes comedy The Dream Factory (1997) and earthquake tearjerker Aftershock (2010).
After spending some time together with Feng, he was all praise for the veteran, whom he calls "very friendly, extremely professional and involved when it comes to work". "Off the set, he took care of me and taught me a lot about acting and life," the younger man adds.
He also got along well with Li, 28, even though they are potential rivals, both being male singeractors. Wu points out that Li had started ahead of him and adds: "We have plenty to talk about, including basketball, music and gaming."
After suing to leave Exo in 2014, the entertainer has turned his focus to acting (romantic drama Somewhere Only We Know, 2015) and appearing on variety shows on television.
Next up is a turn in French director Luc Besson's sci-fi flick Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, whose cast includes Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen and Rihanna.
Even as his film career is on the ascent, Wu's music fans need not worry that his legal troubles with Exo would turn him off music completely. He has released solo singles and plans to record an album.
"While filming, I would find the time to come up with tunes and I'll continue to work according to my own rhythm."
The bachelor adds: "Regardless of what I do, I hope to do my utmost to deliver good works to everyone."
•Mr Six is showing in cinemas.