Tony Leung Chiu-wai

Tony Leung Chiu-wai (born 27 June 1962) is a Hong Kong actor. He is considered one of Asia's most successful and internationally recognised actors and was named as "Small Tiger" among Five Tiger Generals of TVB. He has won many international acting prizes, including the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actor for his performance in Wong Kar-wai's film In the Mood for Love. Leung is widely considered the best native Hong Kong actor of his generation. He was named by CNN as one of "Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time".[2]

Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Tony Leung at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival
Native name
Born (1962-06-27) 27 June 1962
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1982–present
Home townHong Kong
Carina Lau (m. 2008)
AwardsBest Actor Award
2000 In the Mood for Love
Hong Kong Film AwardsBest Actor
1995 Chungking Express
1998 Happy Together
2001 In the Mood for Love
2003 Infernal Affairs
2005 2046
Best Supporting Actor
1988 People's Hero
1990 My Heart is That Eternal Rose
Best Original Film Song
2003 Infernal Affairs

Golden Bauhinia AwardsBest Actor
1998 Happy Together
2003 Infernal Affairs
2005 2046

Hong Kong Film Critics Society AwardsBest Actor
2004 2046

Asian Film AwardsBest Actor
2008 Lust, Caution

Golden Horse AwardsBest Actor
1994 Chungking Express
2002 Infernal Affairs
2007 Lust, Caution

Musical career
LabelsCapital Artists Music Limited (1985–1992)
Music Impact Entertainment Ltd (1994–1997)
Universal Music (Hong Kong) Limited (2000–2002)
Jet Tone Film Production[1]
Associated actsFive Tiger Generals
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Leung is known for his collaborations with director Wong Kar-wai, with whom he has worked in seven films including Chungking Express (1994), Happy Together (1997), In the Mood for Love (2000), and The Grandmaster (2013). He also appeared in three Venice Film Festival Golden Lion-winning films, including A City of Sadness (1989), Cyclo (1995) and Lust, Caution (2007), directed by Ang Lee. Leung also stars in the Academy Award-nominated film Hero, and the box office hits Hard Boiled (1992) and Infernal Affairs (2002). Leung was cast as the Mandarin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will appear in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).

For In the Mood for Love, Leung earned the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. He is also a seven-time winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards and three-time winner at the Golden Horse Film Awards, holding the record for most awards in the Best Actor category. The 2002 book East Asian Film Stars describes Leung as "undoubtedly one of the most successful and widely-acclaimed Hong Kong actors of his generation, with a broad and diverse filmography."[3]

Early life

Leung was born in Hong Kong. Leung's early childhood was punctuated with parents' quarrels and arguments about money. A mischievous boy in his early years, Leung's personality changed when his father, a chronic gambler, left the family when he was eight; he and his younger sister were brought up by their mother.[4][5]

Leung was a reticent, quiet child.[6] He has said that his childhood experiences paved the way for his acting career, which allows him to openly express his feelings:

Leung went to private school, but he quit at the age of 15 due to financial difficulties. He was a well-behaved teenager who was very close to his mother. During an interview on the making of Hero, he says that he sees his mother as his definition of a "hero[ine]" for having brought up two children alone.

Television career

After quitting his studies, Leung worked in a variety of jobs, first as a grocer's runner at his uncle's shop, then a showroom salesman in a Hong Kong shopping centre. Around the age of 16 he met future actor and comedian Stephen Chow who influenced his decision to become an actor and remains a good friend.[7]

In 1982, he passed the training courses of television channel TVB. Due to his boyish looks, TVB cast him as host of a children's programme, 430 Space Shuttle. Leung enjoyed comedies during his television years; it was for these he became well known. So, in the 1980s, he was named as one of "TVB's Five Tigers" (their five up-and-coming male TV stars) along with Andy Lau, Felix Wong, Michael Miu and Kent Tong. Leung starred in the highly successful Police Cadet TV serial in 1984 (later named Police Cadet 84 to distinguish it from subsequent sequels).

He played an outgoing young man who decides to become a police officer; Maggie Cheung, who also started her career at the same time, played a shy bookworm, Leung's upstairs neighbour and love interest. Since then they have worked together on The Yang's Saga (1985), Days of Being Wild (1991), The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993), Ashes of Time (1994), In the Mood for Love (2000), Hero (2002), and 2046 (2005).

Interviewed by Wong Kar Wai, Leung said that he considered Maggie to be his alter ego. "Maggie is a truly formidable partner – one to waltz with. We do not spend a lot of time with each other, as we like to keep some mystery between us. Whenever I see her, I discover something new about her".[8]

Film career

Many consider Leung's role in director John Woo's 1992 action film Hard Boiled in which he co-starred with Chow Yun-fat, as his breakthrough role. However, Leung first received international attention in Hou Hsiao-hsien's 1989 film A City of Sadness, which won the Venice Golden Lion.

Leung often collaborates with director Wong Kar-wai and has appeared in many of his films. His most notable roles include the lonely policeman in Chungking Express (1994), a gay Chinese expatriate living in Argentina in Happy Together (1997), and a self-controlled victim of adultery in In the Mood for Love (2000) for which he won the Best Actor award at Cannes.[9] He trained for five years in wing chun to prepare for his role as Ip Man in Wong's The Grandmaster.[10] He is considered by many to be one of the finest actors of his generation in Hong Kong. Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt are admirers of his work,[11] and Leung has been called Asia's answer to Clark Gable.[5]

Leung also has an on-and-off Cantopop and Mandarin pop singing career and sang the theme song of Infernal Affairs with Andy Lau.

During the late 1990s, it was difficult for him to break into Hollywood because he would not take on any roles that degrade his character and image in Hong Kong. To date, he has not done a Hollywood film, but is primed to appear in one after signing on with an American film agent.[12][13]

In addition to Cantonese, English, and Spanish, Leung speaks Mandarin (accented) and some Japanese (as heard in Tokyo Raiders). Lust Caution is the first film where he has a Mandarin-speaking role in which he used his own voice. (His Mandarin dialogue in Hero was dubbed by someone else.)

During the promotion of the film Hero, some politicians and commentators in Hong Kong attacked Leung for expressing the view that the Tiananmen Square demonstration crackdown was necessary to maintain stability. Under constant political pressure and boycott threats, Leung made a single statement that he may have been quoted out of context but refused to retract his statement in the magazine.[14] However, the movie magazine editor maintained that the original statement was not out of context and challenged people to read the complete interview.

In 2014 he was selected as a member of the jury for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.[15]

In July 20, 2019, it was announced that Leung was cast to play The Mandarin in the Marvel Studios film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,[16][17] marking his Hollywood debut.[18]

Personal life

Relationship and marriage with Carina Lau

Tony Leung and Carina Lau are one of Hong Kong's biggest celebrity couples. They dated for 19 years before marrying in Bhutan in 2008. They had known each other since The Replica in 1984, and worked on-screen together in Replica (1984), Duke of Mount Deer (1984), Police Cadet (1984, 1985, 1988), The Yangs' Saga (1985), Days of Being Wild (1991), He ain't heavy, he's my father (1993), Ashes of Time (1994), and 2046 (2005).

In 1990, during the filming of Days of Being Wild, Lau was abducted for several hours. Wong Kar-wai said, "Originally, there were plans for Days of Being Wild I and II, and the sequence featuring Leung was meant to be the opening scene of the second movie. But two things happened, one of which was that Days of Being Wild didn't do well in Hong Kong, so the producers said, "No Part 2." The other reason was Carina Lau's kidnapping.[6]

On 21 July 2008, the couple got married in Bhutan in royal fashion. The wedding created a media frenzy in Hong Kong, with companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue the wedding party.[19]

According to Ming Pao Daily News, Faye Wong and her husband actor Li Yapeng had taken them to India in 2007 to visit the 17th Karmapa. The Karmapa's counsel helped them to resolve a crisis in their relationship, and he also suggested Bhutan as a wedding venue.[20]

Both Tony and Carina Lau are known to be sports fans.[21]


Tony Leung is a Buddhist. He has donated to constructions of Buddhist institutions, performing a marriage in a Buddhist ceremony, attending Buddhist gatherings and doing the Buddhist palm greetings.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Mad, Mad 83
1985 Young Cops Leung Siu-bo
Fascinating Affairs
1986 The Lunatics Doggie
Love Unto Waste Tony Cheung Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
You Will I Will
1987 People's Hero Sai Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Happy Go Lucky
1988 I Love Maria Chong Chi-keung
1989 My Heart is that Eternal Rose Cheung Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
A City of Sadness Wen Ching
Seven Warriors
Two Painters
1990 Bullet in the Head Ben / Ah B
The Royal Scoundrel beach boy
1991 The Banquet Wai Jai
A Chinese Ghost Story III Little Monk Sap-fong
Days of Being Wild Pat-cheung
Don't Fool Me Chiang Ho-chie
Fantasy Romance Stupid Shing
Great Pretenders Snake Wai
The Tigers Tau-pi
1992 Come Fly the Dragon Miu Wai-man
The Days of Being Dumb Fei
Hard Boiled Alan Kong Leung Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Lucky Encounter Wai
1993 Butterfly and Sword Mang Sing-wan
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father Chor Yuen
The Eagle Shooting Heroes Au-yeung Fung
End of the Road Fan Lung
Hero – Beyond the Boundary of Time Wai Siu-bo
The Magic Crane Ma Kwan-mo
Three Summers Wai
Tom, Dick, and Hairy Chan Dai-man
Two of a Kind Lam Dai-chi
1994 Always Be the Winners Third Master Sha
Ashes of Time Blind Swordsman
Chungking Express Cop 633 Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
The Returning Chung
1995 Cyclo Poet
Mack the Knife Doctor Mack Lau
Heaven Can't Wait Wong Dai-fung
1996 Blind Romance Wing
War of the Underworld Hung Fei
1997 97 Aces Go Places Cui Qiang
Chinese Midnight Express Ching On
Happy Together Lai Yiu-fai Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor
1998 Flowers of Shanghai Wang Lianshang
The Longest Nite Inspector Sam Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Timeless Romance Lau Yat-lo
Your Place or Mine Cheung Suk-wai
1999 Gorgeous Albert
2000 Healing Hearts Lawrence
In the Mood for Love Chow Mo-wan Nominated—Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
Cannes Film Festival for Best Actor
Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Tokyo Raiders Lin
2001 Fighting for Love Tung Choi
Love Me, Love My Money Richard "Bastard" Ma
2002 Chinese Odyssey 2002 Li Yilong
Infernal Affairs Chan Wing-yan Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor
Hero Broken Sword
2003 Infernal Affairs III Chan Wing-yan
My Lucky Star Lai liu po
Sound of Colors Ho Yuk-ming
2004 Super Model Cameo
2046 Chow Mo-wan Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
2005 Seoul Raiders Agent Lam
2006 Confession of Pain Detective Lau Ching-hei Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
2007 Lust, Caution Mr. Yee Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
Asian Film Awards for Best Actor
2008 Red Cliff: Part 1 Zhou Yu Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
2009 Red Cliff: Part 2 Zhou Yu
Ashes of Time Redux Blind Swordsman
2011 The Great Magician Chang Hsien
2012 The Silent War He Bing Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
2013 The Grandmaster Ip Man Nominated—Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
1905 Yan Yunlong Production cancelled February 2013[23]
2016 Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait Deer / Serene Mask
See You Tomorrow Chen Mo
2018 Monster Hunt 2 Tu Sigu
Europe Raiders Mr Lin
2019 Theory of Ambitions Nam Kong
2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Mandarin[24] First Hollywood film


Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Young Heroes of Shaolin Shaolin monk
1982 Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils monk, episode 44
The Legend of Master So waiter
Manager & Messenger general manager
Hong Kong '82
Wut Lik Sap Yat Hung Kwok-choi
Soldier of Fortune Ying Chi-him
The Emissary brother
1983 The Superpower Kwok Hak-chung
Beyond the Rose Garden Tin-yau
Encounter with Fortune
Angels and Devils Kong Ho-man
1984 The Clones Cheung Ka-wai / Chiang Ka-wai
The Duke of Mount Deer Wai Siu-bo
It's a Long Way Home Yau Ga-kei
Police Cadet '84 Cheung Wai-kit
No Regrets for Our Youth Frankie
1985 The Rough Ride Chow Kim-hung
Police Cadet '85 Cheung Wai-kit
The Yang's Saga Yeung Yin-chi (Yeung Chat-long) / Duke of Thunder
1986 New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre Cheung Mo-kei
1987 The Grand Canal Cheung Sam-long
1988 Police Cadet '88 Cheung wai-kit
Behind Silk Curtains Lin Kar-yip
Everybody's Somebody's Favourite
Two Most Honorable Knights "Little Fishie" Kong Siu-yu
1989 Ode to Gallantry Shek Po-tin / Shek Chung-yuk



  • Raining Night (朦朧夜雨裡) (1986)
  • Who Wants (1988)
  • Love Day by Day (1993)
  • One Life One Heart (1994)
  • Trapped by Love (1994)
  • Day and Night (1994)
  • Cannot Forget Collection (1995)
  • The Past and the Future (1995)
  • Too Affectionate (1995)
  • Tony Leung Greatest Hits (June 2000)
  • In the Mood for Love (November 2000)
  • Wind Sand (2004) (reissued January 2006)

Awards and nominations

(9 Best Actor Nominations, 3 Best Supporting Actor Nominations)

  • Golden Bauhinia Awards
    • 2005 Won Best Actor (2046)
    • 2003 Won Best Actor (Infernal Affairs)
    • 1998 Won Best Actor (Happy Together)
  • Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
    • 2005 Best Actor (2046)[26]
  • Chinese Film Media Awards
    • 2000 Won Best Actor (In the Mood for Love)
  • Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards.
    • 2014 Won Best Actor (The Grandmaster)
  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
    • 2004 Won Best Actor (2046)
  • Iron Elephant Film Awards
    • 2007 Won Best Actor (Lust, Caution)
  • Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers (HKSC) Awards
    • 2008 Most Charismatic Actor


  1. "梁朝伟_百度百科 (Baidu Profile)". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  2. "Asia's 25 greatest actors of all time". CNN.
  3. Martin, Daniel (2014). "Body of Action, Face of Authenticity: Symbolic Stars in the Transnational Marketing and Reception of East Asian Cinema". In Leung, Wing-fai; Willis, Andy (eds.). East Asian Film Stars. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 21. ISBN 1137029188.
  4. "HK Mr Charming Tony Leung born to be an actor". China Daily. 20 November 2003. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  5. Wise, Damon (18 October 2007). "Why Tony Leung is in the mood for lust". The Times. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  6. Durbin, Karen (7 August 2005). "Still in the Mood for a Collaboration". The New York Times.
  7. "The Melancholic Charm of Tony Leung Chiu Wai". 16 January 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. Wong Kar Wai (25 May 2005). "Tony Leung: the unforgettable cowboy leading man of Asian cinema shows his true grit to a legendary director and fellow frontiersman". BNet. Archived from the original (Interview) on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  9. "Festival de Cannes: In the Mood for Love". Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  10. Marsh, James (22 July 2012). "Paris Cinema IFF Interview: Yuen Wo Ping on the Changing Face of Kung Fu Cinema" (Interview). Twitch Film/Screen Anarchy. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016.
  11. Tony Leung in the mood for acting. China View, 21 April 2005. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
  12. Tony Leung to appear in Hollywood film. China, 10 August 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2006.
  13. Tony Leung Heads for Hollywood. CRI, 18 August 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2006.
  14. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai claims he was misquoted. HK Entertainment Review, 19 December 2002. Retrieved 23 December 2006.
  15. "Berlinale 2014: International Jury". Berlinale. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  16. Hood, Cooper (20 July 2019). "Shang-Chi Casts Tony Leung As The MCU's Real Mandarin". ScreenRant.
  17. Borys Kit , Mia Galuppo (20 July 2019). "Marvel Finds Its Shang-Chi in Chinese-Canadian Actor Simu Liu". The Hollywood Reporter.
  18. Tseng, Douglas (July 21, 2019). "Tony Leung Chiu-Wai To Make Hollywood Debut In New Marvel Movie". Today. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  19. International Herald Tribune. "IHT." Actors' wedding leads to Hong Kong media frenzy. Retrieved on 22 July 2008.
  20. "Why Tony, Carina nuptials in Bhutan". Archived from the original on 25 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  21. "梁朝偉chok爆滑浪 劉嘉玲:You can do it!". 明周娛樂. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  22. "梁朝偉與王菲 春節飛印度拜法王 | 中國報 China Press". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  23. 中堅映画会社のプレノン・アッシュが破産 尖閣問題の影響でトニー・レオンが出演見送り [Film company Prenom H goes bankrupt – Tony Leung's involvement cancelled due to Senkaku dispute]. MSN Sankei News (in Japanese). Japan: The Sankei Shimbun & Sankei Digital. 25 February 2013. Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  24. Mancuso, Vinnie (20 July 2019). "Marvel Reveals Full 'Shang-Chi' Title, Lead Actor and Release Date; Tony Leung to Play The Mandarin". Collider. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  25. "Tony Leung Chiu-Wai". Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  26. Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards 2005 at the Internet Movie Database

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