Russell Wong

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This article is about the actor. For the Singaporean photographer, see Russel Wong.
Russell Wong
Russell Wong, AFI Film Festival Los Angeles 2009.jpg
Russell Wong in 2009
Background information
Chinese name 王盛德
Birth name Russell Girard Wong
Born (1963-03-01) March 1, 1963 (age 53)
Troy, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Flora Cheong-Leen (Divorced)
Children Eja Robinson-Wong

Russell Girard Wong (Chinese: 王盛德; pinyin: Wáng Shèngdé; born March 1, 1963) is an American actor. He is the brother of actor/model Michael Wong. He was the series lead of the TV show Vanishing Son, but the show was short-lived. The show is one of the few American TV series in television history featuring an Asian American series lead, and is also considered ground-breaking for casting an Asian male in an attractive, "leading man" role on Television.

Early life and education[edit]

The sixth of seven children, Wong was born in Troy, New York; the son of Chinese-American restaurateur William Wong and Connie Van Yserloo, an American artist of Dutch and French descent.[1][2] His family moved to Albany when he was a baby, where his father ran a restaurant. When Wong was seven years old, his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to California, settling near Yosemite. In 1981, Wong graduated from Mariposa County High School, and that fall enrolled at Santa Monica City College.[3]

Career[edit]

Wong supported himself as a photographer and as a dancer (appearing in rock videos with David Bowie, Donna Summer, and Janet Jackson, among others) before scoring his first screen roles in 1985, appearing in a Hong Kong musical called Ge wu sheng ping (aka Musical Dancer) and in a screen adaptation of James Clavell's best-seller Tai-Pan (as Gordon Chen). A number of television and film roles followed, including an appearance as Narong Bansari on an episode of the 80s crime show The Equalizer, but Wong began breaking into better roles in 1989, when he made a memorable guest appearance on the drama series 21 Jump Street (as Locke in the episode "The Dragon and the Angel") and won a leading role in Wayne Wang's acclaimed independent romantic comedy Eat a Bowl of Tea as Ben Loy. He also played a rising Chinese American gangster named Yung Gan in Abel Ferrara's China Girl, a Romeo and Juliet love story film about the conflicts between Chinese gangsters and the Italian mob in New York.

Supporting roles in China Cry (as Lam Cheng Shen), China White (as Bobby Chow) and New Jack City (as Park) were to follow, and Wong found himself working with Wayne Wang again when he was cast as Lin Xiao in the film adaptation of Amy Tan's best-selling novel The Joy Luck Club.

Wong finally got a breakthrough role in 1994, when he was cast in the leading role in the short lived TV series Vanishing Son, in which he played a Chinese political activist exiled in America. The show was popular enough to spawn three sequels, and was later spun off into a syndicated TV series. People magazine named him one of fifty "Beautiful People" in 1995.

After Vanishing Son ran its course, Wong moved on to more big-screen work, including major roles in Prophecy II (as Danyael), The Tracker (as Rick Tsung), and Romeo Must Die (as the antagonist Kai to Jet Li's hero), as well as the made-for-TV epic The Lost Empire, where he played the title character, The Monkey King. He also played Lieutenant Tong in the film Twisted starring Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia and directed by Philip Kaufman.

In 2003, he was cast as the lead in a TV series created by Robert Mark Kamen and Carlton Cuse entitled Black Sash, where he played a former narcotics cop named Tom Chang who opens up a martial arts school in San Francisco left to him by his teacher, Master Li (played by Mako), to teach a number of young students "the art of 8 palm changes" or Baguazhang. The series also starred Missy Peregrym, Corey Sevier, Ray J, Sarah Carter, and Drew Fuller. Although 8 episodes were made, 6 ended up airing on The WB.

Wong also voiced the main character, an undercover cop named Nick Kang, in the video game True Crime: Streets of LA (2003). In the late 2000s, he starred as General Ming Guo opposite Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) directed by Rob Cohen and as Patrick in the Thailand action film The Sanctuary alongside Michael B, Inthira Charoenpura and Patharawarin Timkul. He also appeared as Leon in Chris Chan Lee's independent film Undoing (2006) opposite Sung Kang and Kelly Hu, and Anna Chi's Dim Sum Funeral (2008), opposite Bai Ling and Talia Shire. He also guest starred on a number of TV shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (as Lieutenant Arthur Chen), Just Legal (as the District Attorney in the pilot episode), Commander in Chief (as a Cabinet member), Numb3rs (as Jeremy Wang).

In the 2010s, Wong appeared in the TV series Nikita (as Victor Han), Hawaii Five-0 (as Kong Liang; he also appeared as Nick Wong in the 1997 Hawaii Five-O TV movie), and HBO Asia's Serangoon Road (as Winston, the husband of Joan Chen's character) in 2013. Film wise, Wong was involved with a number of films shot in Asia or China, reuniting again with Wayne Wang for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011) (as the Bank CEO at the beginning that gives a speech to Archie Kao and Li Bingbing) and as Peter in the Chinese language remake of the film What Women Want (2011) starring Andy Lau and Gong Li.

In 2014, Wong finished shooting a horror series entitled Grace which was shot in Singapore for HBO Asia, and also directed by Serangoon Road co-director Tony Tilse.[4] He plays the father character of the family, and is named Roy Chan.

Personal life[edit]

Wong has one daughter, Eja Robinson-Wong, with dancer Eartha Robinson. He was married to Hong Kong-based designer Flora Cheong-Leen. They divorced in 2012.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Musical Singer Russell
1986 Tai-Pan Gordon Chen
1987 Harry's Hong Kong Sergeant Lee Television film
1987 Gwai ma hau yuen Mr. Wong
1987 China Girl Yung Gan
1988 C.A.T. Squad: Python Wolf Television film
1989 Eat a Bowl of Tea Ben Loy
1989 China White Bobby Chow
1990 China Cry Lam Cheng Shen
1991 New Jack City Park
1992 Xia ri qing ren Zeniger
1993 Geoffrey Beene 30 Man Short film
1993 The Joy Luck Club Lin Xiao
1994 Vanishing Son Jian-Wa Television film
1994 Zhong jin shu Ken Chan
1994 Vanishing Son II Jian-Wa Television film
1994 Vanishing Son III Jian-Wa Television film
1994 Vanishing Son IV Jian-Wa Television film
1998 The Prophecy II Danyeal Direct-to-video
2000 Takedown Tsutomi Shimomura
2000 Romeo Must Die Kai
2001 The Tracker Rick Tsung Television film
2004 Twisted Lieutenant Tong
2005 Inside Out Frank
2006 Undoing Leon
2006 Honor Ray
2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Ming Guo
2008 House of Wong The Man Short film
2008 Dim Sum Funeral Alexander
2009 The Sanctuary Patrick
2010 Color Me Love Zoe's Ex-husband
2011 What Women Want Peter
2011 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Bank CEO
2013 Hafen der Düfte Edward Lim
2014 Light from the Dark Room Li Cheung
2016 Forever Young General
2016 Lost in the Pacific Gary Gao
2016 The Jade Pendant Mr. Wong Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1988 The Equalizer Narong Bansari Episode: "Riding the Elephant"
1989 21 Jump Street Locke Episode: "The Dragon and the Angel"
1989 Gideon Oliver Li Song Episode: "Tungs"
1995 Vanishing Son Jian-Ma 13 episodes
1997 Hawaii Five-O Nick Wong Unaired Pilot
1998 Touched by an Angel George 2 episodes
1998 Honolulu CRU Episode: "Pilot"
2001 The Monkey King Monkey King Miniseries
2003 Black Sash Tom Chang 8 episodes
2004 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Lieutenant Arthur Chen Episode: "No Humans Involved"
2005 Just Legal District Attorney Episode: "Pilot"
2005 Commander in Chief Cabinet Member Episode: "First Disaster"
2006 Numb3rs Jeremy Wang Episode: "Undercurrents"
2010 Nikita Victor Han Episode: "Rough Trade"
2012 Hawaii 5-0 Kong Liang Episode: "Ohuna"
2013 Serangoon Road Winston Episode: "Episode #1.10"
2014 Grace Roy Chan 4 episodes
2015 NCIS: New Orleans Cam Lin Episode: "The Walking Dead"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 True Crime: Streets of LA Nick Kang

References[edit]

External links[edit]