The Unrivalled had premiered three years ago with box office takings of over 1.5 billion dollars. The box office earnings worldwide was a sum that any film investors would be envious of.
Due to the success of the first movie, the investment into a sequel soon followed. However, at the post-production stage, investment-related issues caused The Unrivalled 2 to suffer a difficult fate, and as a result, the premiere was dragged out until now.
As the producers were worried that The Unrivalled 2 would not be well-received at the box office, they invested heavily on marketing in China, one of the largest box office markets, and sent the entire creative team to China to participate in promotional activities for the film.
It was the first time that the cast of The Unrivalled 2 was visiting China. In their minds, China was a mysterious country with a long history, a vast landscape and many people. But that was all they knew about it.
When the crew alighted from the plane, they were surrounded by numerous beautiful banners and posters held by reporters who welcomed them, and they couldn’t help but smile happily.
The Chinese fans were truly passionate and cute.
“Do we actually have so many passionate fans? Hart, there’s a cute girl waving at you.” The female lead, Juliana, didn’t expect that there were so many people who liked her in this faraway Eastern country. Feeling touched, she sent flying kisses to all the fans carrying banners, then expressed her thanks in broken Chinese.
The male lead Hart was a dashing man with blond hair and blue eyes. His eyes were filled with gentleness, and everyone who looked into his eyes would fall into an illusion of being loved by him.
“I finally understand why Ning insisted on returning.” Juliana swept her flowy hair. “The people are here really too adorable.”
Hart smiled at her comment. “You’re right, the girls here are as adorable as Ning.”
Juliana looked at him in agreement. As she heard the fans screaming, she even waved at the fans heartily before she entered the car.
After the crew of The Unrivalled 2 departed from the airport, the fans were still hyped up, and couldn’t bear to leave the area.
“Hart is so handsome! Look at his face! I’ll be able to eat an additional portion of rice this afternoon!”
“Juliana is gorgeous! Furthermore, she’s so gentle towards us. I used to think that she’s a cold and aloof beauty.”
Many Chinese people weren’t able to really tell foreigners apart well, but good-looking people were the exception.
After the Chinese organizers sent the actors to the hotel, they started coordination work with the representatives.
“There will be a press conference at three this afternoon. Any objections to that?” The person-in-charge handed the schedule to the leads. It was written clearly on the schedule that the official promotion period was for two days, and there would be another day and a half where they would be brought around for sightseeing.
“No issue with that, but we have another lead actress in the show who’s Chinese. I think she should appear during the promotional activities.” The Unrivalled 2’s director Joseph shrugged, then said, “You should know that we place high importance on the Chinese market.”
The Chinese organizer was astounded when they heard this. There was actually a Chinese actress in The Unrivalled 2? He immediately smiled and said, “Of course that’s necessary.”
When the others weren’t looking, the organizer looked down at the list of actors in his hand, checking if there really was a Chinese actor.
Could the interpreter have made a mistake?
He pulled out the name list in English, which was stacked right at the bottom, and scanned through it a couple of times. It was only then that he realized that the fifth name on the list was the most probable name.
“Xi, Ning …” The organizer frowned. When the order of the words were switched, wasn’t it … Ning Xi?
The organizer was dumbfounded. He looked at Joseph hesitantly. “Director, is the Chinese actor named Ning Xi?”
“Yes.” Joseph nodded, and his expression was full of praise. “She’s an extremely wonderful woman. It was Juliana and Hart who introduced me to her. I was initially a bit hesitant, but truth be told, she’s the surprise of this movie.”
The organizer felt even more uncertain now. There were rumours that Juliana and Hart were very good friends; both of them were even schoolmates from a renowned university.
When he saw the entertainment news previously, where did the reporter say Ning Xi graduated from?
No, it was probably Edin University?
“Mr Joseph, do you know when the Chinese actor will be able to reach the hotel?” The organizer couldn’t make the call, so he didn’t dare to shoot his mouth off. It was a good thing if a local actor participated in a world-famous production, but if they got the wrong party, then it wasn’t going to be a pretty scene.
“Ning is always punctual.” Joseph looked at his watch. “We arranged to meet at 2pm. That’s an hour later.”
“If that’s the case, please go ahead and rest first. I’ll come and inform all of you before the press conference starts.” The organizer took his leave. After he left Joseph’s room, he got someone to contact Zhang Qingyun to ask if Ning Xi had acted in this movie.
The Unrivalled 2 had already begun filming three years ago, and the production concluded a year later. Should Ning Xi have a role in the movie, it was a clear sign that before she returned to the country, large international productions were already within her reach.
Since she was doing so well overseas, why did she choose to return? How many local actors would rack their brains just to go overseas to promote? Why would someone return on their own accord?
“Ning Xi, why did you bring me here?” Zhang Qingyun looked at the hotel before him. Wasn’t this the venue for the press conference of The Unrivalled 2?
“I’m bringing you here to chase after celebrities.” Ning Xi brought Zhang Qingyun through the entrance of the hotel. After they entered the lift, Ning Xi said, “Brother Zhang, do you remember, when we signed our contract, I told you that I had participated in some dramas and movies?”
Zhang Qingyun nodded. Asian characters would also appear in foreign productions occasionally. Hence, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ning Xi acted as an extra or took on a small role in these productions.
“I also acted in The Unrivalled 2.” Ning Xi’s lips curved upwards. “Didn’t you say previously that you like Juliana? Hence, I’m specially bringing you along.”
Zhang Qingyun could feel his legs soften as he heard those words. “You have a role in the movie?!”
"Ding!" The door opened, and two crew members arranged by the organizers were guarding the lift.
“This floor has been reserved especially for the production crew of The Unrivalled 2. Please show your invitation.” The man was full of smiles and regarded her politely, but from his gaze, it was clear that he thought Ning Xi was trying to ride on The Unrivalled 2 to gain more publicity.
There were many people in the industry who used such methods. In order to increase their exposure, the less popular celebrities would shamelessly cling onto the A-listers and take photos with them, then intentionally post them with intimate comments, misleading others to think that they had some sort of relationship.
Unexpectedly, Ning Xi pulled out an invitation and handed it to them. After they checked that the invitation was in order, they looked embarrassed.
“Apologies, this way please.” The crew member who had held Ning Xi back was already green with regret. It was only then that he remembered Ning Xi’s other identity - Chang Shi Gui’s girlfriend.
With such a powerful boyfriend, Ning Xi could go anywhere she wanted. He smiled as he led the way, praying hard that Ning Xi would forgive his previous actions.
At this moment, one of the doors opened. Juliana walked out in a beautiful gown. The crew member leading the way was already starstruck from her glamorous figure. However, why was this beauty looking at him so excitedly? Could he be that he was suddenly blessed with the fortunes of a hunk?
“Oh my goodness!” Juliana increased her pace, then walked past the crew member …
The crew member quickly recovered from his gaze, then turned back and noticed that the two women of many men’s dreams were in a tight embrace.
“Ning!” Juliana was extremely excited at Ning Xi’s appearance; her voice trembled as she spoke, “It’s been so long! How have you been?”
“I’ve been well.” Ning Xi patted her back lightly, as if she was comforting her beloved. “I’ve missed all of you these two years.”
“It’s already good enough that you didn’t forget us.” Juliana loosened her arms from Ning Xi’s neck, then held her hand and observed her from head to toe. “I believe what you say now. It looks like you are doing well after returning.”
Even her face was much rosier.
Zhang Qingyun was astounded by Ning Xi and Juliana’s intimate actions. The crew member beside him was even more astonished. Listening to how Ning Xi was communicating proficiently with Juliana, they were dumbfounded.
It appeared that Ning Xi was familiar with the crew of The Unrivalled 2, and it wasn’t because of Chang Shi Gui?!
“I forgot to introduce him. This is my manager Zhang Qingyun.” Ning Xi turned and introduced Zhang Qingyun. “He really likes the roles that you play.”
“Thank you.” Juliana smiled at Zhang Qingyun, “Nice to meet you.”
Hearing Juliana’s broken Chinese, Zhang Qingyun replied to her politely in English. Even though he appeared calm, inwardly, his heart was in tremendous shock.
Later, after following Ning Xi into Director Joseph’s room and observing the familiarity of Ning Xi with the lead actors, and how she could casually joke with the male lead Hart, the shock in his heart had already numbed.
Life was full of surprises, but with Ning Xi, there were slightly more of these. He needed to learn to be calm.
“Have you managed to contact Zhang Qingyun?” The Chinese organizer looked at the time. It was already 2.30PM, and the press conference was about to start, but he still wasn’t able to confirm the background of the actress “Xi, Ning.”
“Not yet, Zhang Qingyun didn’t pick up his phone.” The staff who was in-charge of making the call was thinking internally, due to Chang Shi Gui and Ning Xi’s relationship, there were probably uncountable reporters who wanted to look for Zhang Qingyun. It would be a surprise if anyone would pick up their call now.
“Forget it then.” The organizer sighed. “Let’s first invite those foreign actors to prepare to go on stage.”
The organizer walked to Joseph’s room, and realised that the door was open. There was also a flurry of voices inside. He went forward and knocked on the door. “Our distinguished guests, the press conference is about to begin. Are all of you ready?”
“Of course.” Joseph smiled at him, then pointed to the side. “This is the actress Ning that I mentioned to you before.”
The organizer’s eyes followed his direction …
It was really Ning Xi?!
A graduate from a prestigious school who earned massive popularity as soon as she joined the entertainment industry, and even found a national-level eligible bachelor as her boyfriend. And here she was, on such good terms with a world-famous director and superstars, and even participated in a global blockbuster three years ago. How did Ning Xi achieve all these?
“Miss Ning,” The organizer nodded and smiled at Ning Xi. “We are really honoured to have you join us on this round of promotions. I believe that all our reporter friends at the press conference today will definitely feel very surprised.”
As much as he was feeling astounded, he still retained his smile.
Ning Xi returned his smile. “It was all due to my friends’ recommendation that I got a chance to act in this movie. It was just a stroke of luck.”
“Ning, what is he talking to you about?” Juliana whispered to Ning Xi, “From his expression, he seems to know who you are.”
“He said that he’s honoured that I’m participating in this round of promotions.” Ning Xi whispered into Juliana’s ears. “I became an actress after I came back here, so he recognized me.”
“I see.” Juliana said. “You are so pretty, it’s a waste if you don’t be an actress.”
Ning Xi laughed out loudly. “You’re right.”
Looking at the sisterly relationship between Juliana and Ning Xi, the organizer’s impression of Ning Xi was as though he saw a miracle.
If she was so close to international superstars, why did she choose to return to the country to develop? He was starting to think that he didn’t understand the world anymore.
At 2.15PM, just before the official commencement of the press conference, the area was already packed with reporters. The hosts were standing on stage hyping up the atmosphere, and introducing the guests for today.
Through their earpieces, the hosts were able to get information from the backstage. Hence, when they heard that a Chinese actress had also participated in the movie, and even played an important character, they almost couldn’t keep their expressions in check.
“In order to thank all our reporter friends’ arrival, I have a very important piece of news to share with everyone.” The host said cheerily, “Director Joseph has shared that a very important character in The Unrivalled 2 was acted by an outstanding local actress. Can anyone guess who it is?”
The entire venue was in an uproar from this piece of news.
There was actually a Chinese actress with an important role in this movie. Why didn’t they receive any news about this earlier?