Nirvana in Fire has been praised as one of the best-ever historical romances featuring a riveting plot, gorgeous cinematography, fantastic martial arts, and impeccable direction and performances. What you probably didn't know, however, is that handsome leading man Hu Ge, the hero who rose from a crushing defeat to seek revenge and justice in the drama, also rose in real life from a stunning tragedy that almost killed him and destroyed his face. Read on for more.

1. Hu Ge's name is 胡歌 in Chinese, pronounced as Hu Guh. First name 歌 (Ge) means "song" or "singing." The family surname 胡 (Hu) is formed by 2 separate Chinese characters which means "Ancient Moon." Doesn't his name evoke romanticism when you think of Hu Ge as an "ancient moon song?"

2. He rose to fame in 2005, along with Liu Yifei, in Chinese Paladin, the successful drama adaptation based on The Legend of Sword and Fairy, a popular action role-playing game (RPG). The software's creator Yao Zhuangxian saw Hu Ge in a chance meeting and recognized the rookie actor as the mirror image for the leading character Liu Xiaoyao. Hu Ge also reprised the role in Chinese Paladin 3 in 2009.

3. On August 29, 2006, Hu Ge was seriously injured in a highway car accident en route to Shanghai. His good friend and assistant died. Hu Ge survived but went through two major surgeries in four days that required general anesthesia and over a hundred sutures on his face and neck. He almost lost sight in his right eye. He was then transferred to Hong Kong to continue with skin graft surgery, nasal correction, and scar repair. It would take him almost a year to recover and to restart the drama Legend of the Condor Heroes (2008 release), which halted production to wait for his return.

The experience that Hu Ge went through eerily parallels Nirvana in Fire, in which the hero Lin Shu survived a crushing defeat and drastically altered his face as a disguise to unleash revenge against treacherous enemies.

4. The multi-talented actor also excels in singing, stage acting, writing, photography, and more. Ever since his accident and recovery, he has continued to mature and broaden his experiences. Perhaps it is because he wants to live life to the fullest and not waste precious time. 

After his recovery, he published a book, Scavenger of Happiness, filled with personal thoughts during his recovery along with encouraging notes from his friends. He wrote, "Every word of their encouragement is filled with heartwarming thoughts, and made me realize a person's life doesn't belong to him alone." 

He donated all proceeds from the book and his drama The Myth (2009) to help establish an elementary school in Yunnan province and named it after Zhang Mian, the friend and assistant who died in the car accident.

5. Although Hu Ge rose to fame with historical and martial arts roles, he has also successfully played modern-era characters. Among his many awards, he won Most Popular Actor Award at the 9th Seoul International Drama Awards for playing a computer repairman in Life Revelations (2014). And of course, he's won multiple Best Actor awards for the incomparable Nirvana in Fire, such as the Shanghai Television Festival's Magnolia Awards held on June 11 this year.

When he accepted the award, he humbly said, "I will have a higher expectation of myself." He also revealed plans to cut back on his work load in order to learn, saying, "Learning is a lifetime thing. Maybe I look good on screen, but I should also raise the bar in my performance."

He Gu's personal story is so inspiring. It's not every day that we have such a rare leading man whose own life transcends the dramatic roles he plays.

BONUS: Should I also mention the 33-year-old leading man is still single? He recently appeared at close friend Wallace Huo's wedding to Ruby Lin in Bali. He went alone.

I am so glad that DramaFever has added Nirvana in Fire to its Chinese drama portfolio. It gives me the opportunity to write a feature article about Hu Ge. We hope to see more of him, and in the meantime, don't forget to check out two of Hu Ge's best works:

Sound of the Desert:


Sound of the Desert

Starring Cecilia Liu and Eddie Peng

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And, of course, Nirvana in Fire:


Nirvana in Fire - 琅琊榜

Starring Hu Ge and Liu Tao

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 ~ NancyZdramaland

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(Image credit as referenced or tagged)