Gregory Lee’s Mother Turned Him into a Child Prodigy

The midnight rerun of TVB drama Looking Back in Anger <義不容情>, directed by Wai Ka Fai (韋家輝), has been well received despite it’s been 30 years since the original broadcast. Aside from the well-written script, the performances by talented actors Felix Wong (黃日華) and Deric Wan (溫兆倫) played a huge role in the drama’s success. Eight-year-old Gregory Lee’s (李泳豪) convincing acting even earned him the recognition of a child prodigy at the time.

His performance as Yammie Lam’s (藍潔瑛) son in the 50-episode series was the talk of the town, especially in the scene of him bawling as he witnessed the police arrest her. Gregory’s realistic crying made the audience sympathize and pity him. For a child to be able to touch people’s hearts through the screen is not an easy feat, but many viewers also had doubts and believed there was an external force behind his cries.

Rumor was his father Lee Ka Ding (李家鼎) would slap him a few times to get him to cry before the cameras rolled or his mother Shih Ming (施明) would beat him. Although it sounds berserk, it’s also possible, as Ding Yeh is known for being strict and has certain expectations of his son’s performance. “At the time, there were a lot of rumors of my dad beating me or my mom hitting me,” Gregory recalled. “But since young, I’ve actually been the type to stop crying if you hit me.”

In fact, it was his mother who helped him achieve the great crying results by staying at the scene and teaching him how to act. “I really love my mom, I’ve always stuck to her,” Gregory said. “She told me to put myself in the character’s shoes. It is her who asked me what I would do if I lost my mom. I cried really hard after thinking about my mother dying.”

It turns out his mom in the drama, Yammie, also looked after him during the two months of filming. “She really used her heart to take care of me” he shared. “Sometimes she would tell me, ‘Son, you should act like this in this scene.’ During lunch breaks, she would take care of me too.”

While he wants to thank the cast members for looking after him, he has always wanted to personally thank Ka Fai. Gregory always told Ka Fai’s younger brother Willie Wai (韋家雄) that no one would know he could do this type of scene if Ka Fai did not cast him for this role. However, he added, “Nowadays, the whole environment is different. I can still cry my eyes out but it’s not popular anymore, the audience will think I’m exaggerating.”

Source: Hk01

This article is written by MelodyC for

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  1. Child Prodigy but didn’t live up to potential.

    He will forever be remembered as the guy Shirley Yeung dumped and his strict father had to come stand out for him and caused even more attention to the whole thing. Actually never knew who Gregory Lee was until that Shirley Yeung incident.

    1. @mike So true!! All we remember is probably a sweet boy who still lives at home w/his parents and an ex gf who famously dumped him. He’s cute but yes the child fame didn’t get him anywhere in his acting career. I don’t think anyone will realize if the brothers are the supporting or extra casts of any series.

      1. @wm2017 Unless you grew up in the 80s like I did, that is. I actually do remember both Gregory and his brother in TVB series back then and there’s no doubt Greg was talented as a child actor (more talented than his brother actually). Yes, it’s true that his acting career as an adult didn’t go anywhere, but then again, it’s the same case with most of the child actors of that time. I think the only child actor from that generation who was able to maintain a relatively high level of success in the industry once he reached adulthood was Fung Chi Fung, who is now a popular radio show host for CRHK (for those who are wondering who I’m talking about, he played the younger version of Felix Wong’s Guo Jing in Legend of the Condor Heroes as well as Andy Lau’s Yang Guo in Return of the Condor Heroes….he was pretty much the “go-to” kid actor in the late 70s / early 80s — Gregory Lee basically took his spot in the late 80s after Fung grew up and left to pursue his education).

        By the way…I’m re-watching Looking Back in Anger right now as well and despite the fact that I’ve seen the series a bajillion times already over the past 3 decades, I couldn’t help bawling like crazy through the first few episodes – it definitely makes a difference re-watching this series now with so many of the veteran artists gone…. 🙁

      2. @llwy12 Thank you for the info about Fung Chi Fung! I remember him back then and his talent always stood out. I am glad to hear that he is doing well.

  2. Gregory had his chance when he got a big role in ‘Blade Heart’ mainly because of his dad who was also acting and sorting the horse scenes. His performance was very average and the series was a flop. Not that he will rewatch it since most scenes were with Shirley Yeung…

  3. For a long time, i actually had no idea Gregory Lee was the kid whose acting I admired way back in the 80s. He was in one of my favorite dramas with Hacken Lee and I could relate to him more than i could with the other adults in the drama.

    It sucks that child actors and actresses rarely get the recognition they want after they move past that childhood stage. The problems with child prodigy is that they reach their peak too soon. No more room for growth accepted by the audience or metamorphosis for themselves.

  4. i didn’t even know he filmed before i read it here…. there are big name child actors whose career failed to launch upon reaching adulthood. the kid from home alone, kid from AI, and the starwar kid. i think the ones that continued their popularity are really the disney ones.

    1. @m0m0 They did a tribute to child actors (in the HK movie industry) at the HKFA award ceremony a few years ago and it was interesting to see how many child stars went on to become huge successes when they reached adulthood (there were some, but in the larger scheme of things, definitely not many).

      And yes, agree that it’s the same plight here in the U.S. as well for many child actors, though overall there ARE more opportunities here in Hollywood so there are slightly more options to revive one’s career (as long as it didn’t go completely off the rails of course).

    2. @m0m0 Christian Bale & Leonardo Di Caprio are examples of successful ones that progressed from childhood to adulthood in iconic roles.

  5. Too bad he can’t be successful like Leila Tong is I remember she’s been acting too since she’s a child also. I remember she’s in the drama The Greed Of Man? She’s one of Damien Lau daughter? Feel sorry for Gregory hopefully he’s moving up to the next level soon.

  6. Although Gregory’s adult acting career didn’t exactly take off, he is doing reasonably well. He is also a Thai boxing and racing car instructor. This July, he opened a Japanese BBQ restaurant called Akune Wagyu Tachikui Yakinikumise ( in Mongkok. The business is bustling, so Greg plans to open more locations in the near future.

    Some actors may have small roles in TVB dramas, but they may run successful side businesses which provide the bulk of their income. Working at TVB satisfies their acting interest, but also a great way to build networks, promote themselves and their businesses. As an artiste, it’s invaluable to build up their name, which can be a brand for any future ventures they want to go into.

    Stefan Wong, Evergreen Mak, and Oscar Leung are also supporting actors who also have restaurants/ cafes.

    I’m happy for Greg that although he didn’t find success as an actor in recent years, he is versatile and found success in other areas.

    1. @jayne Well-said and so true! 🙂

      To be honest, most artists who work for TVB actually have some type of side venture, whether it’s investing in a business, investing in property, opening up a production studio, etc. With the exception of the newbies who are just starting off, most of the other artists rely on income from other sources to live their lives. When we peel back the layers, TVB’s role is essentially to help artists get exposure and build enough of a name for themselves to get sponsorship deals, work opportunities outside the station, investment opportunities, etc – basically ways to supplement the low salary that TVB gives. One of the things that TVB has always been good at (and this hasn’t changed in the 50 years that the station has been in existence) is “24/7 in-your-face promotion” of artists it favors (regardless of whether those artists have talent or not)….of course, there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but when, as a company, that becomes your modus operandi and the main focus that you build everything else around, then it becomes a problem obviously (I think most people will agree that a system built on favoritism is unhealthy and problematic).

      This is one reason why, as much as everyone has been complaining about TVB’s low wages for decades, no one pushes TVB to make changes….everyone is already resigned to the fact that TVB salary is going to be low — that’s just the way it is (and will always be)….knowing this, artists still work for TVB because 1) they either have no choice or 2) they simply bite the bullet for long enough time to build up either their name or better connections, then rely on that name (or the connections) for their “true” income (and in most cases, eventually disengage themselves from TVB). I liken it to a game that some artists are better at playing than others – the artists who take acting seriously and actually want to build a career with TVB are the ones who lose out the most, while those who understand the rules of the game and view TVB as merely a stepping stone to other opportunities (which is technically how TVB views itself) are the ones who end up as winners.

  7. Best child actor of his time, he was way better than his brother. Even as an adult, I thought he was a good actor. Whatever and however messed up their adult lives may be, I will forever remember Gregory. in fact I think he was also a bit younger and he also had a devastating role much earlier than in this series. Can’t remember the name. I think my memory is right on that. Was it TVB or ATV? Anyway later he was in ATV right? Another great role. Kong Wah series.

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