Tony Leung Reflects On Career, Talks Working With Wong Kar-Wai & Looks Ahead To “Finally” Playing A Bad Guy In Andy Lau Reteam ‘Goldfinger’ – Venice Film Festival

Tony Leung Chiu-wai has starred in three movies that have scooped the top prize Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and today he is receiving his very own Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. 

The 61-year-old Hong Kong actor and singer is one of Asia’s most successful and internationally recognized stars. Among his major global credits are Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 romantic drama In the Mood for Love, for which he won the Best Actor prize in Cannes. His other collaborations with Wong include Chungking ExpressHappy Together and The Grandmaster

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Leung also starred in the Academy Award-nominated film Hero by Zhang Yimou, and the box office hits Hard Boiled by John Woo and Infernal Affairs by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. The latter trilogy formed the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning The Departed

Talking with the press today, Leung beamed of the Lifetime Achievement Lion, “Finally I can have it for myself, I don’t have to share it with anybody.” (The three Golden Lion winners he has starred in are Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s A City of Sadness, Tran Anh-hung’s Cyclo and Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution).

The lauded actor looked back at his early days and said acting helped open him up as he “found a way to express myself in front of other people without being shy because they don’t know it’s me, they think I’m playing a character.”

He’s a big fan of preparation and said he plans to spend eight months getting ready for Idilko Enyedi’s Silent Friend, in which he’s playing a neuroscientist. “I have no idea what neuroscience is… I’ve been doing a lot of university-hopping,” he laughed. This will be Leung’s first European movie.

Asked about his collaborations with Wong Kar-wai, Leung noted, “It’s so different. We never have a complete script, so I don’t know what to prepare before shooting. I only get the script that day – it’s very experimental.”

Sometimes, he explained, one scene will be done eight times in various costumes and settings, “It’s the reason why Wong Kar-wai films take a few years sometimes… But wow, that costs a lot of money.”

Has he seen last year’s Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All At Once, and what did he think of the tribute scene to In the Mood for Love? “I saw it on a flight, I don’t remember to where. It was interesting, kind of like a tribute to some 80s and 90s movies. It was a very interesting movie, a very special movie.” He didn’t respond about the tribute question, just sort of shrugged his shoulders.

Overall, Leung said he’s never followed a specific career path and rather lets his feelings guide him when it comes to choosing projects. “I never plan in my acting career what I want to do next, because I think fate brings people together. When something happens, it happens. I never calculate whether I want to do films or not … I use my heart.”

His heart recently landed on Felix Chong’s Once Upon a Time in Hong Kong (aka Goldfinger) an 80s-set action crime drama based on real events that releases locally on December 30. Leung called it a sort of American Hustle meets The Wolf of Wall Street

In the movie, Leung will “finally” have the chance to play a villain. What’s more, he’s doing it opposite Infernal Affairs’ Andy Lau.  “It’s very challenging to me to play the bad guy, and this time Andy is playing the good guy. Twenty years after Infernal Affairs, we change positions.”

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