Oscar Leung Relishes Role as Emperor Tongzhi

It has been a bountiful year for Oscar Leung (梁烈唯) this year with major roles in House of Harmony and Vengeance <耀舞長安>, Queen of Diamonds and Hearts <東西宮略>, L’Escargot <缺宅男女>, Tiger Cubs <飛虎>, and now The Confidant <大太監>.

The most challenging roles for Oscar were that of Kwan Yi Gor in L’Escargot and Emperor Tongzhi in The Confidant. He commented, “The characters in these two shows have so many ups-and-downs in their lives. The life of Tongzhi in the show is a condensed version; from when he was 14 to 19 years old. I want to show the most of him yet I can’t be too contrived. Kwan Yi Gor had many mood changes in the show, but at least it’s still a modern drama, and I can use my life experiences to help me. For Tongzhi, I can only rely on history books.”

33 going on 14

Looks like lady luck is shining on Oscar. Initially, he was surprised he landed the role of the teenage Tongzhi, since he has never acted as an emperor and he felt that he does not possess a regal air. He was also apprehensive that being 33 years old, he could not act as a teenager. “It must be my baby face!” Oscar concluded happily. He confessed that producer Marco Law (羅永賢) revealed to him that he had had a lot of trouble finding an actor who can act and pass off as a teenager.

Oscar not only felt pressure from working with the veteran actors, but also from the young actor, Pako Au (區珀豪) who acted as the younger Tongzhi in the show. “Not long after filming began, everyone was telling me the boy who acted as the younger Tongzhi was very good. I was afraid I could not live up to his acting. Veteran actors such as Michelle Yim (米雪), Wayne Lai (黎耀祥) and Power Chan (陳國邦) really helped me a lot. There was a particular emotional scene with Michelle. I just took one look at her, and I fell into character immediately.”

Despite the initial pressure of working with the big stars and the lack of information on Emperor Tongzhi, Oscar Leung did not find it a problem to immerse into character and thoroughly enjoyed acting the role.

Emperor Tongzhi IS Oscar Leung

It also helped that the show was filmed in China’s Hengdian World Studios where there was a reconstitution of the Forbidden City. “I remember Roger Kwok (郭晉安) once told me that it’s easy to get into character if the filming is done on location. And indeed! When I looked down from the Forbidden City [in Hengdian] and saw those officials, the feeling is very grand and different!”

Prior to a Category III film rendition of Tongzhi, there were no other popular productions featuring the emperor. Oscar spent a lot of time researching Tongzhi’s life, reading history books as well as biographies to understand the emperor. He is however glad and honored he is one of the few actors cast as Tongzhi.  “I hope that when viewers think of Tongzhi, they would think of Oscar Leung!”

This article is written by Karen for JayneStars.com.

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  1. I like his potrayal but so far he is not doing much. The writing is the problem. Unfortunately he doesn’t own the character Tong Zhi, not yet. We shall see..

  2. I really hope he win’s Most Improved, he really deserves it after this year!!!!

    1. Me too! Loved all his recent performances, and he really has made an impression in all the dramas he’s been cast in this year!

  3. I’m sure his character will get more interesting… maybe after he go to prostitutes and get infected with AIDs. LOL.

  4. Ok, the picture on the left is a funny picture. What’s he doing with that expression?

  5. i loved him in Tiger Cubs but i just don’t like his portrayal in The Confidant. it is lacking of sth or perhaps, he is just shadowed by the eunuchs. too many experienced casts in The Confidant that i don’t anticipate Oscar’s scenes at all.

  6. Oscar Leung is not young. He is 33 now, but he has a baby face and a boyish smile.

  7. He is 33 years old for real? No way… i thought he was in his mid 20s. I was basically in shock when i read this article. I wonder how he can keep this youthful look on him all the time.

  8. “Prior to a Category III film rendition of Tongzhi, there were no other popular productions featuring the emperor.”

    Does this mean that Justice Sung II was not popular? I watched this series this year and there was a portrayal of the grown-up Tongzhi who died of a sexual disease. Some historians say he died of smallpox but the sexual disease sells better for a drama.

    1. He should watch some ATV series too. ATV has made a 2 part series on Empress Cixi starring Michelle Yim and Au Yeung Pui Shan, and Spencer Leung Sze Ho played Tongzhi in it.

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