Busan 2022: Tony Leung Chiu-wai talks about his career – and the future roles he wants

Tony Leung Chiu-wai was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival.
Tony Leung Chiu-wai was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

Tony Leung Chiu-wai was undisputedly the star attraction at the 2022 Busan International Film Festival, simultaneously celebrated as its Asian Filmmaker of the Year and through a six-film In the Mood for Tony Leung retrospective series.  On Oct. 6, he met the press and addressed various aspects of his career to date.

About his role preparation and career so far: He takes three months to research and prepare for a role. “If I could divide my acting life into two stages, the first part would consist of [the] learning [curve], and the second [has been] to unleash what I have learned,” Leung said. “I am at a happy stage where I can play as many roles as possible.”

About attending the Busan International Film Festival: This was Leung’s fourth time at Busan, dating back to 1997 when Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together” (co-starring Leung and Leslie Cheung) screened at the second edition.  “I am very happy to have seen all the actors mature as I watched them through the past decades,” he said.

His favorite Korean actors: Song Kang-ho and Jeon Do-yeon

About his decision to appear in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”: The reason he decided to take a role in “Shang-Chi” was because he could feel the sincerity of the director, Destin Daniel Cretton. He also welcomed the opportunity to play the role of a father, which was not the type of character he ever thought he would portray – much less in a Hollywood movie.

On the types of roles and productions he has not taken on yet: “Throughout my career there were a lot of characters I have not portrayed,” Leung said.  At the top of his wish list?  A serial killer, as opposed to playing a more one-dimensional villain.  (When Leung accepted his role in “Shang-Chi,” he thought it would be a super villain character but it turned out not to be the case.)  Another idea would be to return to his roots in Hong Kong. “I actually would like to be back on a TV series as that was how I started out my career,” Leung said.  Finally, he would be open to acting in a Korean drama…as long as he doesn’t have to speak Korean!

On the 2022 Hong Kong film “Where the Wind Blows,” directed by Philip Yung: Leung said that his co-star Aaron Kwok prepares a lot for his roles before shoots.  He also felt that he had good chemistry with him. “Aaron and I started way back together when we were unknown,” Leung said.  He stated that the environment of the film was very similar to the atmosphere of “In the Mood for Love,” both works replicating the 1950s to 1960s Hong Kong that he grew up in, and thus reminding him of his childhood.

On his film selection for the 2022 Busan retrospective: Leung wanted to include more selections in his retrospective but was given only six slots out of a filmography spanning more than 100 movies.  Three Wong Kar-Wai films – “In the Mood for Love,” “2046” and “Happy Together” – made it, as did two films about corrupt cops, “Infernal Affairs” and “The Longest Nite.” Leung had hoped to add Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “A City of Sadness” but no print was available at the time. That’s when he realized that he needed to balance out all the drama with a comedy.  When asked why he didn’t choose, say, “Chungking Express” over “The Eagle Shooting Heroes” (the eventual choice) he didn’t really answer the question, although he noted that he already had three Wong in the lineup.  But actually…that mo lei tau film involved Wong in a bizarre way.

Mai D. Chan contributed to this report.

Busan 2022: Tony Leung Chiu-wai press conference, Oct. 6
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Busan 2022: Tony Leung Chiu-wai Open Talk photos, Oct. 7
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine