Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (born 27 June 1962) is a Hong Kong actor and the winner of Cannes Film Festival for Best Actor, for his role in Wong Kar-wai's film In the Mood for Love. Leung is also a nine-time winner of Hong Kong Film Award and three-time winner of Golden Horse Film Awards.
Tony Leung collaborated with Wong Kar Wai for 7 films, and three of them had been officially selected as competition film in Cannes Film Festival, including Happy Together (1997), In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004).
Leung also stars in three Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winning films, including A City of Sadness (1989), Cyclo (1995) and Lust, Caution (2007), which was directed by Oscar winning director Ang Lee. Leung also stars in Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominated film Hero.
Leung was born in Hong Kong to a family with ancestry from Taishan, Guangdong, China. 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 single-handedly by their mother.
Leung became a reticent, quiet child. He has said that his childhood experiences paved the way for his acting career, which allows him to openly express his feelings: "You don't know what happened, just one day your pop disappears. And from that day on I try not to communicate with anyone. I'm so afraid to talk to my classmates, afraid that if someone says something about family I won't know what to do. So I became very isolated. So that's why I love acting, because I can express all my feelings the way I couldn't for so long." . "I'm a quiet person. And then when I went to TV it all came out; I cried and I wasn't ashamed. The audience thinks it's the character's feelings, but really it's my feelings, all coming out in a rush."
Leung's mother worked hard to keep him attending a private school, but even so, Leung had to quit school at the age of 15 due to financial difficulties. He was a well-behaved teenager who was very close to his mother. During a DVD 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.
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. He met actor and comedian Stephen Chow who influenced his decision to become an actor and remains a good friend.
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), 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".
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 in film. However, Leung first gained international exposure through 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 in Wong Kar-wai's films 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. He started training in wing chun to prepare for his role as Yip Man in Wong's The Grandmasters, and has been training for five years. He is considered by many to be the finest actor of his generation in Hong Kong. Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt are admirers of his work, and Leung has been called Asia's answer to Clark Gable.
Leung has dated Carina Lau since the end of 1989. He had known her since The Replica in 1984 as she had been good friends with Margie Tsang, his previous girlfriend. He worked on-screen with Lau 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.
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.
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.