Russell Wong in 2009
|Birth name||Russell Girard Wong|
March 1, 1963 |
Troy, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Flora Cheong-Leen (Divorced)|
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
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. 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.
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. He plays the father character of the family, and is named Roy Chan.
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.
|1985||The Musical Singer||Russell|
|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||Romeo Must Die||Kai|
|2001||The Tracker||Rick Tsung||Television film|
|2008||The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||Ming Guo|
|2008||House of Wong||The Man||Short film|
|2008||Dim Sum Funeral||Alexander|
|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||Lost in the Pacific||Gary Gao|
|2016||The Jade Pendant||Mr. Wong||Post-production|
|2016||Contract to Kill||Matthew Sharp||Credited as "Russel Wong"|
|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-Wa||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"|
|2017||Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders||Inspector Jin||Episode: "Type A"|
|2003||True Crime: Streets of LA||Nick Kang|
- Russell Wong Bio, http://www.chineseamericanheroes.org/heroes/2012/Russell%20Wong.pdf
- ‘Grace’ Horror Series Underway at HBO Asia, http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/grace-horror-series-underway-at-hbo-asia-1201127472/