John Lone

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John Lone
John Lone LOC.jpg
John Lone in 1985
Ng Kwok-leung (吳國良)

(1952-10-13) October 13, 1952 (age 69)
Years active1976–2007
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese尊龍
Simplified Chinese尊龙

John Lone (Chinese: 尊龙; pinyin: Zūn Lóng; jyutping: zyun1 lung4; born October 13, 1952) is a Chinese-American actor. He starred as Pu Yi in the Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor (1987), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.

A veteran of the East West Players, he appeared in numerous high-profile screen and stage roles throughout the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s, in films like Iceman, Year of the Dragon, M. Butterfly, The Shadow, and Rush Hour 2. He was also nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his performance in The Moderns.

Personal life[edit]

Lone was born in 1952 as Ng Kwok-leung (Chinese: 吳國良; pinyin: Wú Guóliáng) in British Hong Kong.[1]

He was raised in an orphanage and later adopted by a woman from Shanghai. At age 7, he was sent to train in the style of the Peking opera (also known as the Beijing opera) at Hong Kong's Chin Chiu Academy, where he was trained in singing, dance, and classical Chinese theater techniques.[2] It was here that he was given the name "Johnny"; he chose the name Lone to reflect the fact that he was an orphan and for its similarity to Leung, part of his given name.

Lone declined an offer to join a Belgian dance company, and a contract to make Kung fu films, and accepted a sponsorship by an American family.[3] He moved to Los Angeles and spent three years taking night classes at Santa Ana College to improve his English. In 1972, he married fellow student Nina Savino, and gained American citizenship (the couple divorced in 1979). In 1978, he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California. [1]


Due to the lack of roles for Asians at the time, Lone was often left to play minor parts on television.[1] Lone was with the Asian American theatre organization East West Players for ten years[4] before Mako offered him a role as an Asian emigrant trying to assimilate in David Henry Hwang's first play FOB.[1] Lone starred alongside Tzi Ma[5] and his performance garnered him an Obie Award in 1981.[6]

While in New York City he was discovered by the talent agent Jadin Wong, who helped him to launch his career.[citation needed] One of his earliest roles was as the cook in the film King Kong.

His first major role in films was as the title character in Iceman. In 1985, he played crime boss Joey Tai in Year of the Dragon.[7]

Lone was selected to portray the title character of Puyi in Bernardo Bertolucci's epic historical drama, The Last Emperor (1987), after Tony Leung Ka-fai declined the role.[8] Lone and lead actress Joan Chen were relative unknowns internationally until the release of the film.[9] He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture at the 45th Golden Globe Awards in 1988 for his performance.[7] He and Chen presented the Academy award for best documentary short at the 1988 Academy Awards.[10]

Lone lobbied for the role of Cheng Dieyie in Farewell My Concubine (1993) but did not proceed past contractual negotiations with producer Hsu Feng. Leslie Cheung was later cast for the part.[11] Instead, Lone co-starred with with Jeremy Irons as Song Liling in David Cronenberg's M. Butterfly (1993).

In the 1995 film The Hunted, Lone played assassin Kinjo alongside Christopher Lambert. Further international film appearances included the role of corrupt Hong Kong cop Ricky Tan in Rush Hour 2 (2001) and the antagonist Shiwan Khan in The Shadow (1994).

Lone's focus then shifted to the Asian market.[1] He played the Qianlong Emperor in the 30-episode television drama series Qianlong and the Fragrant Concubine (乾隆与香妃) in 2004. He also appeared in the title role of Kangxi Emperor, in Records of Kangxi's Travel Incognito (1998–2007), a Chinese television series about the Manchu-ruling Qing Empire monarch.

Since co-starring with Jet Li and Jason Statham in the 2007 film War, Lone has not made any further appearances. He maintains a website ( but it has no entries.



Year Title Role Notes
1976 King Kong Andy the Cook
1979 Americathon Chinese Man
1984 Iceman Charlie
1985 Year of the Dragon Joey Tai Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor
1987 Echoes of Paradise Raka
1987 The Last Emperor Emperor Puyi (adult) Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor
1988 The Moderns Bertram Stone Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Performance
1989 Dead Calm Balinese dancer [12]
1989 Shadow of China Henry Wong
1991 Shanghai 1920 Billy Fong [13][14]
1993 M. Butterfly Song Liling
1994 The Shadow Shiwan Khan
1995 The Hunted Kinjo
1997 Task Force Thug Cameo appearance
2001 Rush Hour 2 Ricky Tan
2004 Master Of Everything aka Bamboo Shoot Mi Jihong [15]
2007 War Li Chang


Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Blue Knight Terry Chow TV Series
1978 Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid Houseman TV Movie
1978 Sword of Justice The Destructors TV Series
1979 Eight Is Enough Member of the Chinese Trade Mission [1]
1979 A Man Called Sloane Lion Dance TV Series
1981 Hill Street Blues Neighbor [1]
1982 Joseph Papp Presents: The Dance and the Railroad Lone TV Movie
1986 Treffpunkt Kino Self TV Documentary
2004 Qianlong and the Fragrant Imperial Concubine Qianlong Emperor
2005 Paper Moon Affair Keiko's Husband TV Movie
2006 Records of Kangxi's Travel Incognito Kangxi Emperor

Awards & nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film Role Result
1986 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Year of the Dragon Joey Tai Nominated
1988 Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama The Last Emperor Puyi Nominated
1989 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Male The Moderns Bertram Stone Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Academy Trailblazers: John Lone". The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. December 9, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  2. ^ "Academy Trailblazers, John Lone". American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  3. ^ "Academy Trailblazers, John Lone". American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  4. ^ Breslauer, Jan (March 8, 1998). "Honoring the Past, Looking to the Future". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Yamato, Jen (April 12, 2020). "Tzi Ma is already everyone's go-to Asian dad. Netflix's 'Tigertail' makes him the star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "1981 – Winners". Obie Award. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Briggs, Tracey Wong (January 7, 1988). "John Lone, earnest 'Emperor'". USA Today. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
  8. ^ "Don't call me sexy, says Lover man". South China Morning Post. April 18, 1993. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  9. ^ "Bertolucci's signature films to be shown". South China Morning Post. June 23, 2006. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  10. ^ Academy Awards (1988). Young at Heart Wins Documentary Short: 1988 Oscars (YouTube video).
  11. ^ "Cheung, the concubine, tiptoes past the censors". South China Morning Post. January 1, 1993. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  12. ^ Wilmington, Michael (April 14, 1989). "Movie Reviews : 'Paradise' Echoes Noyce's Softer, Gentler Touch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (December 2, 1990). "Shanghai Surprise". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Barnes, Mike (May 5, 2016). "Gino Grimaldi, Producer on TV's 'Emergency!' and 'Knight Rider,' Dies at 74". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  15. ^ Wu, Flora (July 7, 2004). "Last emperor wants to be first". South China Morning Post. Retrieved August 19, 2021.

External links[edit]