Anthony Wong Talks Fallen HK Entertainment Industry: Glory No More

Breaking into international industries is no easy feat for any celebrity, regardless of origin. For Film King Anthony Wong (黃秋生), it took years and years of garnering success at home before he even had the possibility of moving past Hong Kong to other countries.

Starring in the new British TV crime drama series White Dragon (called Strangers in the United Kingdom), the actor talked about the differences between Hong Kong’s own local productions versus overseas productions from the West, and why Hong Kong is lagging behind.

One of the first reasons is the longer production period—Anthony expressed that the longer production periods in British dramas allow the actors to have longer periods of rest, giving them more time to collect their thoughts and emotions.

Asking if that is the sole reason as to why British shows are “better” than HK dramas, Anthony said, “It has nothing to do with how slow or how quick a production is. In fact, this just shows that Hong Kong people are great at doing their job. Though, of course, everything would improve if more time was given. Overseas productions also have much higher budgets, with a much bigger market.”

Anthony, who has filmed for both ATV and TVB before, was asked to compare the filming styles between Hong Kong and Britain. He said, “Each TV station has its own style. It’s hard to explain it in just a few words.”

How about TVB? Anthony frowned and said, “Can’t even compare! [In Britain], you would never hear people yelling at the actors. They’re very polite, especially the British. But in TVB? You’ll first hear about your mother, then your father, and then your ancestors. Everyone gets irritable. It’s not a good thing.”

Hong Kong Market is Shrinking

Anthony remarked that Hong Kong’s television market has shrunk over the years, and Hong Kong can blame no one else but themselves. “Hong Kong’s market is so small! It wasn’t like that before—TVB dramas used to get distributed all over the world, but now all of that is shrinking. The dramas are getting worse, the actors are getting worse, the makeup is lazier, the props are getting cheaper. Now Korea has caught up, and Thailand is getting creative. No one wants to watch you anymore. Now we can’t even get creative. You can’t say those things, you can’t do these things, and you can’t do those things. Nothing is allowed anymore.”

Hong Kong’s Newer Actors: Just a Job, Not a Passion

Though Hong Kong has cultivated many talented and award-winning actors in the past, the new generation is suffering. Critics say our generation’s “weaker” actors have something to do with the lack of resources, and many actors are forced to learn on the job—unlike actors in the past, as most of them received professional training.

Anthony disagreed.

“They are not being trained on the job,” said Anthony. “Do you see it? They just have the job. They get trained by just standing on the side and watching you. That is not actual training. That is called tau si (偷師; to secretly observe).”

Anthony, who is a Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts graduate, was asked if casting alumni from the HKAPA would be the better bet. He said, “Not exactly. People like Sean Lau (劉青雲), Francis Ng (吳鎮宇), Tony Leung (梁朝偉), and Andy Lau (劉德華) were not alumni, yet they were still great. Why? Because they were willing to learn. They studied film, read books, and did everything they could to learn about acting. The new actors today treat acting as just a job.”

Anthony also added, “You can also blame viewers for this. A lot of them don’t know the difference between good acting and bad. You cry with no tears, but the viewers still think your acting is great. Why? Because you’re good-looking. Turns out that being good-looking means you’re a good actor.”


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. Anthony is spot on as to why the HK entertainment industry is fading away. It’s culmination of a variety of factors, not just one thing, and it’s been pretty sad to have to see. 🙁

    1. @dandan It’s even sadder though that most of the veteran artists have been saying either the exact same thing or something similar (to what Anthony talked about in the interview) for years, yet nothing has changed…in fact, things have gotten way worse in recent years and continue to decline with each year that passes.

      Case in point — Anthony’s comment about some artists treating it like a job and going to work every day not really wanting to learn but rather just waiting to be done so they can go home reminded me of something that veteran actor Samuel Kwok (whom I adore) said in an interview back in 2015: “…The system was too rigid and restrictive, not even giving artists time to rest – over time, people got tired of it and didn’t want to bother anymore. It got to the point where everyone would just go through the motions, even if they saw something wrong or a mistake being made, no one felt like saying anything – just let it go so we can finish and go home.” (translated quote excerpted from the following article:

      1. @llwy12
        Yes. TVB shifts have turned into factory work for the majority of artists. Knock off the shift and then go home. We have even seen it with the lead actor/actresses over the years. Tavia starring in the same roles and putting similar emotions for scenes and we as viewers can’t distinuish between the characters. Wayne acting in series after series but probably 1 out every 3 are decent quality.It’s more of scene for scene acting and no time to think and develop a character. I think Moses said something along the lines in the interview in ‘Telling Maria’ not long ago. I just think we have no choice but to give up Hong Kong. Even if decent acting classes will be introduced for everyone, TVB is just a stepping stone to grab a bit of fame and quickly move on to lucrative mainland shows, endorsements etr. The only way this can be solved is for TVB to also pay astronomical wages then there will be an incentive and there might be motivation to compete and improve but as we know, this can never happen. All we can do is to reminisce by watching old series….

  2. LOL. Quote: “In TVB first you get to hear about your mother, your father, then ancestors.” In short, there is no respect for actors. I remember another actor spoke about unreasonable treatment before although no names were mentioned.

    Anthony did not mince his words. Indeed, Korean dramas IMO are now a class above. I prefer non romance Korean dramas any time. And too much control kills creativity which is vital in the entertainment industry.

    1. @msxie0714 He did indirectly by saying there are a lot of things actors are no longer allowed to do.

      I suspect he’s indicating the lack of freedom of speech.

      1. @dugdugdug Yes, he’s talking about the “self-censorship” which all companies that want to continue in Mainland China’s good graces must do. With that said however, he is also referring to TVB’s internal politics and how much more restrictive and rigid the station has become over the years, especially in the post-Run Run Shaw days…

  3. Wow Anthony! This is the my favorite Anthony Wong article of all time – just straight facts without BS. He couldn’t had said it any better.

    1. @anon I agree! And I thought Anthony’s previous comment about TVB’s series being “kindergarten productions” was one of the best “cut the BS” comments I’ve ever heard – this entire interview definitely tops that, lol! Thank you Anthony for once again “telling it like it is”….love it!

  4. Nowadays, new actors treat it as a shift and rather than put in the hard work to get to the next level. It happens when the market is inflated and money is easy to come by from attending shows.

  5. With so many lies and beating around bush answers by so many ‘fake’ artists, it’s so refreshing when Anthony Wong comes out with an interview. Always very direct and tells it as it is…

  6. By the way, those who are able to read Chinese, I suggest reading the original article in Chinese (and watch the interview clip as well), as you get the full brunt of the interview that way. Anthony doesn’t mince words and the way he says stuff, there’s just no way to translate it properly. Also, there is stuff in the original article / interview that’s missing from this particular translation….即時娛樂/254905/專訪-黃秋生長遠轉戰歐美影視圈-大家都知我得一條路行

    1. @llwy12

      Thank you! I am going to try to read that with my limited Chinese. Be great if there’s a better-translated article out there.

  7. Well I agree with the attitude towards actors and the drop in quality, as well as the restrictions due “censorship” for nit-picky viewers who complain about every little thing. One slap is considered violence nowadays.

    However, I don’t think it’s fair to say that about the actors who have to work harsh hours and aren’t treated well. I’m sure that there are passionate actors but they just don’t get the chance. I think alot of newabies that are promoted right off the bat are being convinced that they’re alright because directors keep using them regardless, and therefore don’t improve. I think it’s the entire industry that’s pulling down both the production and the actors themselves.

    1. @birdy2415 I don’t think he’s talking about all actors. If you watch the video, he does clarify that some of the actors who treat it “like a job” isn’t necessarily because they are lazy and deliberately want to do a poor job — the problem is that they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing because no one ever taught them formally (the lack of acting / training classes like in the past) and also there is barely anyone to learn from because alot of the veterans are no longer with the station — many of the senior artists have passed away while many others left for various reasons and some don’t even bother with the HK market anymore, so the station is left with those who don’t know what they are doing but have to do it anyway — it’s kind of like the blind leading the blind….

  8. Ever since the Mainland film market boomed in the last decade, Hong Kong hasn’t been the same. As long as Hong Kong companies keep working with Mainland parties, the Hong Kong film industry won’t progress nor recover.

    1. @dook

      I disagree, even without the emergence of the Mainland market. TVB would eventually shut down albeit at a slower rate. The booming Mainland market only helped in accelerating their death (TVB). Which I feel is a positive as TVB would never change, even when there were/are stiff competitions (HKTV/ViuTV/Korean/Taiwanese entertainment, etc.), they prefer stick to their old ways and habits and not evolve with time and social changes. They only have themselves to blame for their own demise.

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