Tony Leung Was Reluctant to Play a Fatherly Role in “Shang-Chi”

Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung (梁朝偉) is in the spotlight as he makes his Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. As fans look forward to Tony playing Shang-Chi’s villainous father, the actor opened up how he had to overcome his childhood trauma in order to take on a new challenging role.

Being Abandoned by His Father

In a recent interview, Tony recalled how his father abandoned his family when he was 7 years old and it left a deep scar on the actor, “After my father left me, I didn’t know how to get along with people. When you are a child, everyone would talk about their father, their family, how happy they were, and how great their father was. From that point, I stopped interacting with people and I became very depressed.”

Tony kept his emotions bottled up inside of him for years until he enrolled in TVB’s acting class at the age of 20 years old and found an outlet to channel his emotions, “I can cry and laugh in front of others and put down all my emotions without being shy.”

While the actor had played many iconic roles over the years, he confessed that he had always avoided playing a fatherly figure, “I was once asked to play a failed father, but I refused. I didn’t want to be reminded of what my father did to me.”

Accepting Marvel’s Casting Call

 It wasn’t until Tony got a casting call from Marvel that helped him gain his confidence, “At first, an American manager told me that Marvel wanted me to star in a new superhero movie, and then I had an online video call with the director before I made the decision to accept the role.”

Although Tony confessed that he did not get a lot of information at the initial meeting with Marvel, he was touched that director Destin Daniel Cretton was inspired by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon <臥虎藏龍> and that the director wanted to pay tribute to Hong Kong films. “At that time, Marvel was very secretive and couldn’t reveal too much. All I knew was that I would be playing a super villain who has a lot of layers, and I don’t need to fight. I thought director Destin was very sincere and I believed in my intuition. I felt like I could trust him, so I agreed even though I had so little information.”

Tony confessed that he was able to find a new experience in filming with Marvel, “I’m not the same as before. I used to stick to my comfort zone. In the past, I would work with the same team or director for 20 years, and I wouldn’t film with other people I don’t know.  It’s because I would feel very insecure, and it would be hard to get acquainted with others quickly. However, maybe it’s because of my age and stage in life, I want to step out of my comfort zone.”

When asked if it was challenging to film in both Chinese and English, Tony shared, “I have filmed like this in the past. Everyone can do it and it just requires some practicing. Actually, I was surprised [by the fighting scenes], as I didn’t know there would be this many. If I had known earlier, I would have trained my body.”

Tony was also asked about his experience filming with his on-screen wife, Fala Chen (陳法拉) and if he felt more comfortable filming with another Hong Kong star. Tony replied, “I don’t think being comfortable has anything to do with filming with another Hong Kong star. It’s more to do with whether we both had similar experiences before. Fala obviously didn’t, but she worked very hard. I saw her practicing hard every day so that’s why filming went so smoothly.”

Source: HK01 and World Journal

This article is written by sammi for

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      1. @HeTieShou I love all his works since the 80s, I have likely read about his history ones a long time ago, I just did not remember… He is a happy private guy now..thus his private life never really interest him…

      2. @Hohliu,
        Yes I was a fan of his since the 80s too. My late parents and family loved his works and acting too. I read about it years ago but will always remember as I have a good long term memory. He said his father was a career gambler who did support his family at first but later left for good after arguing with his mom. Years later, he found out his father passed away and that he regrets not seeing him for one last time. He mentioned that his acting are his real emotions like for example, if he needed to cry, he would think of a sad time like when a girl rejected and tears would come out right away. I remember so clearly everything he said as I can relate since my late father was not the best man or father or husband too.

      3. @HeTieShou Thanks for sharing Tony’s history and your experience. I have never read the details on his history thus it never registered in my HD… But that explains why he is such a good actor.. and a good husband too..

      4. Amazingly, Tony who had an insecure childhood was able to play cheerful/comedy roles really well early in his career too (Duke of Mount Deer). Talented actors can just become different people altogether once get into character. Barbara Yung was similar in that she had a depressing childhood and brought out the emotions in (The Foundation), but could also master upbeat roles (Legend of the Condor Heroes, Legend of the Unknowns, United We Stand). Pity when they actually worked together in ‘The Rough Ride’, it did not work out. No classic was produced…

      5. @Hohliu,
        You are welcome and I remember how Tony started from humble beginnings and has become an international star, but is so grounded and down to earth. Others would have gotten lost in all of the fame and let it get to their head. I must say Tony truly has the passion and talent for acting which I truly admire. I think that is also part of the reason why he is so good at it. He is a good son and husband. His and Carina’s marriage is truly touching and everlasting. One of the reasons is that they love and admire each other.

      6. @jimmyszeto,
        I totally agree and they are both gifted artists. I had high expectations for the Rough Ride as it was the only production that they starred in together, but I was a bit disappointed. However, it was ok to watch and wasn’t the worse series in the world. But yes, it could have been better.

  1. Great movie!!! He killed it, which i knew he would. Would love to see him back in the mcu…Everyone else was great too.

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