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Tony Leung Chiu-wai: 10 lesser-known facts about the Asian superstar

It’s safe to say that Tony Leung Chiu-wai has been ruling the hearts of Hongkongers since the 80s with his impeccable acting stints. From In the Mood for Love, Happy Together to MCU’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Tony has proved his mettle across genres in local as well as western cinema.

In his more than 40-year-long journey as an artist, Tony has scripted history with his numerous awards and accolades. Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s rise to global fame is nothing short of inspirational, especially considering his complicated childhood imbued with financial woes.

His journey is filled with interesting anecdotes, many of which might not have caught the audience’s attention yet. We’ve curated a list of the 10 lesser-known facts about Tony Leung Chiu-wai that’ll familiarise you with the star like never before.

10 lesser-known facts about megastar Tony Leung Chiu-wai

1. He came from a troubled household

While the actor has built a massive fortune over decades, his childhood was in complete contradiction. In an interview with The Guardian, Tony revealed that he came from a ‘broken’ home wherein his parents split when he was only 6 years old.

The actor added that he became very isolated when his father left and felt ‘ashamed’ to tell people about his parents’ separation. Tony also had to quit his studies at the age of 15 due to financial troubles. The star has often hailed his mother as his ‘hero’ for raising him and his sister singlehandedly.

2. The actor shares a deep friendship with Stephen Chow

Thanks to Tony’s friendship with Stephen Chow, he chose the path of acting and gave us such memorable films. Tony was doing odd jobs to support his family until he met Chow at the age of 16. The iconic comedian advised Tony to become an actor following which the latter enrolled in a course at Hong Kong’s leading television studio TVB.

The actor finally debuted as the host of the children’s programme 430 Space Shuttle, after which he landed leading roles in multiple TV series. Owing to his massive success, Tony was named one of ‘TVB’s Five Tigers’ in the 1980s, joining the likes of Andy Lau, Felix Wong, Michael Miu and Kent Tong.

3. He practices Buddhism and has greatly helped the local Buddhist community

Religion plays a pertinent role in the life of Tony Leung Chiu-wai, who practices Buddhism. He tied the knot with his wife Carina Lau in a Buddhist ceremony and is also seen gracing various Buddhist gatherings. What’s more interesting is that he appeared in a Bhutanese Buddhist film named Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait in 2016.

4. Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Wong Kar-wai gave blockbusters together

While Tony has worked with incredible directors in his career, his outings with Wong Kar-wai have proven to be extremely successful. The duo has partnered for seven films, starting with the 1994 crime comedy-drama Chungking Express. Their biggest hit to date has been In the Mood for Love, which earned Leung the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.

People might assume that the director/actor duo shares a cosy relationship off-screen, but Leung clarified that their dynamic is actually ‘very strange’. Talking about their rapport in an earlier conversation with The Dissolve (via Looper), Leung said that despite having known each other for 20 years, they seldom meet and never talk.

Nonetheless, the duo continues to churn magic on-screen, and we can only hope their next film lands soon!

5. Leung is a versatile singer too!

Leung has had an impressive singing career as well, having crooned tracks in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Some of his 90s albums include ‘Hard to Forget You’ and ‘Wind and Sand’, which opened up to a fairly well response from the public. The highlight of his musical career is the theme song of Infernal Affairs, which he crooned with Andy Lau.

6. He is the first Hong Kong star to star in Marvel films

After spreading his charm in Asian cinema, Tony ventured into Hollywood with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The actor appeared as an antagonist in the Simu Liu-led film, taking the role of the protagonist’s villainous father Wenwu. His performance in the 2021 blockbuster was widely appreciated by audiences and critics alike. The film also marked his first English-speaking role.

7. Tony Leung and his wife Carina Lau dated for 19 years before getting married 

Leung and Carina Lau are one of the most celebrated couples in Hong Kong who share an incredible love story. The duo’s romance commenced in 1989 after collaborating on a Hong Kong production of Run For Your Wife. Tony and Carina dated for almost 20 years before tying the knot in Bhutan in 2008.

Their ceremony was a lavish affair having the who’s who of the Hong Kong entertainment scene in attendance. Celebrities including Wong Kar-wai, Faye Wong, Li Yapeng, Bridgitte Lin, Cecilia Yip, Ti Lung and more graced the nuptials.

8. He’s also called the ‘The King of Comedy’

Tony started off his career by starring in TV comedies, and his impeccable comic timing is what impressed audiences initially. The actor further mastered the comedy genre with his 1979 film Jue Dai Shuang Jiao. He garnered rave reviews for his performance and inched closer to stardom. This also earned him the nickname ‘The King of Comedy’.

9. Tony was wary of playing the role of a father due to personal experience

Before playing the villainous father to Simu Liu in Shang Chi, Tony avoided taking on fatherly roles due to his unpleasant childhood with his own father. In a conversation with GQ magazine, Tony said that he was approached to play the role of a ‘failed father’ in the past, however, he didn’t want to be reminded of how his dad treated him.

The actor remarked that because of his solitary childhood, he started enjoying activities like reading, cycling and visiting museums, basically things he could do alone. “Because you cannot always rely on being with people to feel happy, right?” he added.

10. The actor has bagged major accolades and recognition

Tony has won numerous awards for his films, including the Best Actor accolade at the Cannes Film Festival for the film In the Mood for Love. In 2022, he bagged the ‘Asian Filmmaker of the Year’ recognition at the 27th Busan International Film Festival. Tony has also been part of three Venice Golden Lion-winning films: A City of SadnessCyclo and Lust, Caution.

Apart from this, he won multiple Hong Kong Film Awards, Golden Horse Film Festival Awards, Asian Film Awards and many more.

(Hero and feature image credits: tonyleung_official/ Instagram)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What is Tony Leung Chiu-wai known for?

Answer: Tony Leung Chiu-wai is one of the most successful actors in Asia, who made his Hollywood debut with 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'.

Question: What movies is Tony Leung famous for?

Answer: The actor has starred in a number of blockbuster hit films, some of which include 'Hard-Boiled', 'In the Mood for Love', and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'.

Question: How much money does Tony Leung make?

Answer: While there are no reports mentioning Tony Leung's exact net-worth, he easily earns millions of dollars for his movies, brand collaborations and more.

Question: How many films and shows has Tony Leung been in?

Answer: The actor has starred in at least 60 to 65 shows and movies in his career.

Tony Leung Chiu-wai: 10 lesser-known facts about the Asian superstar

Kriti Nayyar

Kriti is a stay-at-home dog mama, whose knack for telling interesting stories keeps her erstwhile monotonous life sane. A literature & journalism degree holder, you'll find her binging on Agatha Christie novels while critiquing the everyday state of affairs. On Kriti's seldom social outings, she's seen devouring coffee sangria with appetizing bread on the side.

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