Tony Leung Chiu-wai
Leung in 2016
Born (1962-06-27) 27 June 1962 (age 61)
British National (Overseas)
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1982–present
(m. 2008)
AwardsFull list
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
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Tony Leung Chiu-wai (Chinese: 梁朝偉, born 27 June 1962) is a Hong Kong actor and singer. He is one of Asia's most successful and internationally recognized actors. 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. He was named by CNN as one of "Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time".[1]

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), 2046 (2004), and The Grandmaster (2013). He also appeared in three Venice Film Festival Golden Lion-winning films: A City of Sadness (1989), Cyclo (1995) and Lust, Caution (2007), directed by Ang Lee. Leung also starred in the Academy Award-nominated film Hero (2002), the cult classic Hard Boiled (1992),[2] and box office hits Infernal Affairs (2002)[3] and Red Cliff (2008).[4][5] He later came to prominence in Hollywood with his role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).[6][7][8]

Leung has an extensive list of awards that he has won in a career that began in the 1980s.[9] For In the Mood for Love, Leung earned the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.[10] 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.[9] 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."[11]

Early life

Leung was born in Hong Kong to a family of Taishan, Guangdong ancestry.[12] His early childhood was punctuated by his parents' quarrels and arguments about money. A mischievous boy in his early years, Leung changed after his father, a chronic gambler, left the family when he was eight; he and his younger sister were brought up by their mother.[13][14]

Leung was a slightly reticent, quiet child.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Leung went to Delia Memorial School (Broadway), but quit at age 15, in 1977, due to financial difficulties. He was very close to his mother. During an interview on the making of Hero, he said that he saw his mother as his definition of a hero for having brought up two children alone.[18]

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 home appliance 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.[19]

In 1982, he graduated from television channel TVB's acting class.[20] Due to his boyish looks, TVB initially cast him as the host of a children's programme, 430 Space Shuttle, but soon moved him to drama roles, beginning with Soldier of Fortune (1982). He was quickly promoted to leading man status in primetime series, including The Duke of Mount Deer (1984) and New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre (1986).[21] Leung mostly enjoyed comedies during his television years; it was for these he became well known. In the 1980s, he was named one of "TVB's Five Tigers" (their five popular young leading actors), along with Andy Lau, Felix Wong, Michael Miu and Kent Tong.[22]

Leung starred in the popular Police Cadet TV serial in 1984 (later named Police Cadet 84 to distinguish it from its two sequels). The series had an average viewership rating of 50% per episode during its original run. Leung played an outgoing young man who decides to become a police officer; Maggie Cheung, whose career started at the same time, played Leung's upstairs neighbour and love interest.[23] 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). Leung has said that he considers Cheung his alter ego, and that "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".[24][25]

After eight years with TVB, Leung left the network to focus on his film career. His final TV drama was Ode to Gallantry in 1989.

Film career

Leung's hand print and autograph at the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong

Many consider Leung the most acclaimed contemporary actor in Greater China.[26][27][28][29] He first garnered international attention in Hou Hsiao-hsien's 1989 film A City of Sadness,[30] which won the Venice Golden Lion. Before that he was already known in Hong Kong for his TV shows and films in the mid-1980s.[31]

Leung's initial transition from television to film in the late '80s and early '90s is considered a low period in his career. He had won two HKFA Best Supporting Actor awards in quick succession but was struggling to establish himself as a leading man on the big screen.[32] In 1992, when he was nominated for a third time in the Supporting Actor category for Hard Boiled, Leung refused the nomination on the grounds that he had a leading role in the film. His protest was supported by director John Woo and co-star Chow Yun-fat. This later led the Hong Kong Film Awards to change its nomination rules to allow for multiple leading roles from the same film.[33][34][35] Leung has also said that until Days of Being Wild (1990), he had lost interest in acting and considered quitting, but working with Wong Kar-wai and seeing his scene in the final film changed his mind.[36][37] His career entered a new chapter when he won dual Best Actor awards at the Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards for Chungking Express (1994),[38] becoming only the second actor to do so after Danny Lee in 1984. He repeated the feat with Infernal Affairs in 2003.[39] Beginning with Chungking Express and over the next 13 years, Leung picked up a record of eight Best Actor wins at the two most prestigious Chinese language film awards,[40][41] plus a Best Actor prize at Cannes.[10]

Leung at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival

Leung often collaborates with Wong Kar-wai and has appeared in many of his films.[42][43] His 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.[10] He reprised his role from In the Mood for Love as a new Chow Mo-wan in 2046 (2004) and trained in Wing Chun for five years to prepare for his role as Ip Man in Wong's The Grandmaster.[44] Wong's Jet Tone Film Production was also Leung's management agency for many years until 2018.[45]

In addition to his works with Wong, Leung has starred in three Venice Golden Lion winning films: A City of Sadness (1989), Cyclo (1995) and Lust, Caution (2007),[46] cementing his reputation in the arthouse cinema world.[26][47] He also became the first Chinese actor to receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival.[48][49] In 2014, he was a member of the jury of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival,[50][51] and in 2017 he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[52] In 2022, Leung was named the Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 27th Busan International Film Festival.[53] Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt are admirers of his work,[54] and The Times has called Leung Asia's answer to Clark Gable.[55] He has also been compared to Cary Grant,[56] or a combination of several A-list Hollywood stars.[57]

Leung is widely believed to be a method actor.[58][59][60] He has said that he often has trouble separating the characters from himself, beginning with his early TV roles.[61][62] He usually takes long breaks after filming to recover from psychologically taxing roles,[63][64] and remnants of the characters still remain within him years later.[61][65] He has said that the voice of his wife Carina Lau can bring him back to reality.[66]

Leung admits that he has a tendency to stay in his comfort zone and work with familiar teams and filmmakers.[67] Over the course of his career, he has worked with Wong Kar-wai eight times (including See You Tomorrow, which Wong wrote),[68] three times with John Woo,[69] three times with Derek Yee,[70] and twice with Hou Hsiao-hsien. He has also worked with the creators of Infernal Affairs (Andrew Lau, Alan Mak, Felix Chong) on three other films: Confession of Pain (2006), The Silent War (2012), and the upcoming film The Goldfinger. In recent years, Leung has become more adventurous and willing to try new things;[71] this includes collaborating with new directors and taking on his first Hollywood role.[67]

In an interview with Senses of Cinema in 2001, Leung said that he had no plans to make a Hollywood debut, but would consider it for the right project. He said, "I have many more choices on the character I can play (in Hong Kong). The role for Asian actors and actresses is very restrictive in Hollywood movies." Actors such as Chow Yun-fat and Jet Li had then made their own debuts in the 1990s.[72] In 2005, he signed with an American agent with the intention to appear in a Hollywood film.[73][74] Producer Kevin Feige announced at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con that Leung will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, marking his Hollywood debut.[75] Leung's character Wenwu is a composite character of Fu Manchu and the Mandarin.[76][77] The movie was released in 2021[78] and his performance was universally praised.[8][79][80][81]

Leung also had a successful Cantopop and Mandarin pop singing career in the 1990s, which he abandoned to focus on acting.[82] He still occasionally sings for his films; the theme song of Infernal Affairs which he performed with Andy Lau is one of the Top 10 Song of 2003 and won the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards' Best Original Film Song.

During the promotion of the film Hero, some commentators in Hong Kong alleged that Leung expressed the view that the Tiananmen Square demonstration crackdown was necessary to maintain stability.[83] Leung made a single comment in response that he may have been misquoted and his statement taken out of context.[84][85]

Leung speaks Cantonese, English and Mandarin. Lust, Caution (2007) is the first film where he used his own voice in a Mandarin-speaking role (his dialogue in Hero is dubbed)[86] and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) is his first English-speaking role, despite being fluent in the language.[87]

In 2023, Leung starred in the World War II spy thriller Hidden Blade, produced by Bona Film Group,[88] and will appear in the crime drama film The Goldfinger, along with Andy Lau.[89][90] This is the duo's first collaboration since Infernal Affairs III in 2003.[91] He also made a cameo appearance in the music video for NewJeans's "Cool With You".[92]

Next, Leung plans to make his first European film, Silent Friend, with Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi.[93][94]

Personal life


Leung publicly dated fellow TVB actress Margie Tsang in an on-again, off-again relationship from 1982 to 1988. In 1986, during one of their breakups, Leung briefly dated Kitty Lai, his co-star at the time in New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre, before getting back together with Tsang. Leung and Tsang broke up permanently in 1988 and he has been in a relationship with Carina Lau since 1989.[32]

Carina Lau

Leung is married to actress Carina Lau (pictured in 2023)

Leung and Carina Lau are one of Hong Kong's biggest celebrity couples.[95] They began their romantic relationship in 1989 after working together on a Hong Kong production of Run For Your Wife[32] and dated for 19 years before marrying in Bhutan in 2008. They had known each other since The Clones in 1984, and also co-starred together in 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).[96]

In 1990, during the filming of Days of Being Wild, Lau was abducted for several hours. Leung dropped out of the film to spend more time with her. 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 Lau's kidnapping."[97]

On 21 July 2008, the couple married in Bhutan. The wedding ceremony was directed by Wong Kar-wai and attended by numerous celebrities including Faye Wong, Li Yapeng, Bridgitte Lin, Cecilia Yip, Ti Lung and Chang Chen.[98] The event gained significant media attention in Hong Kong, with media companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the wedding party.[99]

According to Ming Pao Daily News, Faye Wong and Li Yapeng had taken the couple to India in 2007 to visit the 17th Karmapa. The Karmapa's counsel helped them resolve a crisis in their relationship, and he also suggested Bhutan as a wedding venue.[100]


Leung is a Buddhist. He has donated to constructions of Buddhist institutions, performed his marriage in a Buddhist ceremony, attends Buddhist gatherings, and had been seen doing Buddhist palm greetings.[101] He appeared pro bono in the Bhutanese Buddhist film Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait (2016).[102] In 2016, he was seen at a ceremony in India that was also attended by members of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which upset Chinese officials.[103]



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 Wei
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 Wong Wai-mo
1990 Bullet in the Head Ben / Ah B
The Royal Scoundrel beach boy
Days of Being Wild Gambler Uncredited in the film
1991 The Banquet Wai Jai
A Chinese Ghost Story III Little Monk Sap-fong
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[a]
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 Nominated—Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor
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 Liansheng
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 Nominated—Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
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 Lam Kwai-yan
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 Himself Cameo
2046 Chow Mo-wan Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor
Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Horse Award for Best Actor
2005 Seoul Raiders Lam Kwai-yan
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
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award 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
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
2016 Hema Hema Deer / Serene Mask
See You Tomorrow Chen Mo
2018 Monster Hunt 2 Tu Sigu
Europe Raiders Lam Kwai-yan
2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Xu Wenwu Hollywood debut
2022 Where the Wind Blows Nam Kong Asian Film Awards for Best Actor
2023 Hidden Blade Director He Golden Rooster Award for Best Actor
The Goldfinger Ching Yat-yin
TBA Fox Hunt Dai Yichen
Silent Friend Pre-production


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

Music videos

Year Title Artist Ref.
2002 The Name The Name [104]
2023 Cool with You NewJeans [105]


Year Chinese Name Translation Language
1985 朦朧夜雨裡 Raining Night Cantonese
1988 誰愿 Who Wants Cantonese
1993 一天一點愛戀 A Little Love Each Day Mandarin
1993 難以忘記的你 Hard to Forget You Cantonese
1994 日&夜 Day & Night Cantonese
1994 一生一心 One Life One Heart Mandarin
1994 為情所困 Trapped by Love Mandarin
1995 從前...以後 The Past ... The Future Cantonese
1995 錯在多情 The Fault Is Too Much Love Mandarin
1996 難以忘記 情歌精選 Cannot Forget Collection Mandarin & Cantonese
2000 梁朝偉精選 Tony Leung Greatest Hits Mandarin & Cantonese
2000 梁朝偉眼中的花樣年華 Tony Leung's In the Mood for Love Mandarin
2002 風沙 Wind Sand Mandarin & Cantonese
2007 絕對收藏 Absolute Collection Mandarin & Cantonese

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1987 Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actor Love Unto Waste Nominated
1988 Hong Kong Film Awards Best Supporting Actor People's Hero Won
1990 Hong Kong Film Awards My Heart is that Eternal Rose Won
1993 Hong Kong Film Awards Hard Boiled Nominated
Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards Most Popular Mandarin Song Silver Award 你是如此難以忘記 Won
1994 Golden Horse Film Festival Best Actor Chungking Express Won
1995 Hong Kong Film Awards Won
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Nominated
1996 Golden Bauhinia Awards Mack the Knife Nominated
1998 Hong Kong Film Awards Happy Together Won
Golden Bauhinia Awards Won
Golden Horse Film Festival Your Place or Mine! Nominated
1999 Hong Kong Film Awards The Longest Nite Nominated
2000 Cannes Film Festival In the Mood for Love Won
Golden Horse Film Festival Nominated
Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards Most Popular Mandarin Song Silver Award Won
2001 Chinese Film Media Awards Best Actor Won
Hong Kong Film Awards Won
Golden Bauhinia Awards Nominated
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Nominated
2002 Top Chinese Music Awards Best Film Song Won
2003 Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actor Infernal Affairs Won
Best Original Film Song (Performed with Andy Lau) Won
RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards Top 10 Songs of 2003 (Performed with Andy Lau) Won
Golden Horse Film Festival Best Actor Won
Golden Bauhinia Awards Won
2004 Chinese Film Media Awards Sound of Colors Nominated
Golden Horse Film Festival 2046 Nominated
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Won
2005 Hong Kong Film Awards Won
Golden Bauhinia Awards Won
Chinese Film Media Awards Nominated
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Won
2007 Hong Kong Film Awards Confession of Pain Nominated
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Nominated
Golden Horse Film Festival Lust, Caution Won
2008 Iron Elephant Film Awards Won
Asian Film Awards Won
Chinese Film Media Awards Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Nominated
Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers (HKSC) Awards Most Charismatic Actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai Won
2009 Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actor Red Cliff Nominated
2013 Hong Kong Film Awards The Silent War Nominated
Golden Horse Film Festival The Grandmaster Nominated
56th Asia Pacific Film Festival Nominated
2014 Hong Kong Film Awards Nominated
Asian Film Awards Nominated
Hong Kong Film Directors' Guild Awards Won
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Nominated
Chinese Film Media Awards Nominated
2018 Chaplin Award Asia Chaplin Award Tony Leung Chiu-wai Won
2021 Utah Film Critics Association Awards Vice/Martin Award Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Won
2022 Seattle Film Critics Society Best Villain Nominated
Gold List Best Supporting Actor Won
Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in a Superhero Movie Nominated
Best Villain in a Movie Nominated
Busan International Film Festival Asian Filmmaker of the Year[106] Tony Leung Chiu-wai Won
2023 Asian Film Awards Best Actor Where the Wind Blows Won
Asian Film Contribution Award Tony Leung Chiu-wai Won
Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Won
Golden Rooster Awards Best Actor Hidden Blade Won

International honours


  1. ^ Ashes of Time Redux re-scored in 2008


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