Ex-Disney star Dylan Sprouse spends 6 months learning Mandarin for Chinese film debut

Dylan Sprouse stars in Chinese film

People are stunned to see actor Dylan Sprouse join the Chinese entertainment industry as a new trailer for an upcoming film shows the former Disney Channel star playing a foreign prince.

About the movie: The Chinese film, “The Curse of Turandot,” is a fantasy romance movie adapted from an Italian opera by Giacomo Puccini, according to Deadline.

  • Sprouse’s casting was announced in 2018 as the role of Calaf, starring next to Chinese actor Guan Xiaotong as Princess Turandot.
  • The story centers around Turandot who is cursed upon receiving three Mazovian bracelets as birthday presents. Infused with some mysterious power, the bracelets cause the princess to become cruel and lose her humanity. Princes from foreign lands come to court her by solving three riddles for each of the bracelets, which if answered correctly would free her. If not, however, the princes would die. Calaf, a regular citizen, steps up to solve the riddles and incidentally discovers more about his own past.

The reveal: Sprouse shared his excitement on Instagram on Monday, posting the trailer and writing, “Those who know me closely know how much I’ve spoken of this project and the life-changing experience I had in China filming this.”

  • He added that he spent six months learning Mandarin, which he speaks in the trailer. Some social media users, however, have speculated that the film has been dubbed over by a native speaker.
  • Sprouse’s Instagram Highlights also feature behind-the-scenes moments during filming with various cast members.


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A post shared by Dylan Sprouse (@dylansprouse)

The controversy: Overall, his role in the film appears to have generated mostly positive feedback, though some are skeptical. While the film’s production team and cast members are mostly Chinese, the original “Turandot” opera on which the movie is based has received criticism for perpetuating Orientalist themes.

  • Some are questioning the inclusion of a white actor in a film based in ancient China, while others are more critical of the storyline itself.
  • “Allowing any form of white savior/white worship/WMAF in your media is extremely damaging to the psyche of Asian people and it’s doing white supremacists work for them,” one Reddit comment reads.
  • Another user wrote: “That’s cool but why so many [sic] white people in a movie based on ancient China?  This sh*t’s gonna be like the Matt Damon movie all over again,” referring to the 2016 film “The Great Wall.”
  • Viral tweets surrounding the trailer range from shock and confusion to delight at seeing the popular childhood star take on the unexpected role.

Featured Image via CCTV6 CHINA MOVIE OFFICIAL CHANNEL (left) and @dylansprouse (right)

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