'Strangers': Meet Anthony Wong, the actor who openly critiques discrimination in the Hong Kong film industry
He grew up being bullied for his mixed-race origins and now he is fighting against the discrimination in the very film industry he is a part of
Everyone is well-acquainted with the fact that profanity and justice work side by side when it comes to the voracious actor Anthony Wong. Renowned in Hong Kong as an actor of great merit, and known in the West (especially in France and England) for his roles in Hong Kong Category III movies, the actor played his very first English-speaking role in the Mark Denton- Jonny Stockwood- created show, 'Strangers' (aka 'White Dragon').
So, who is this mysterious man who is otherwise known to be a person of few words, but is extremely aggressive when it comes to vocalizing injustice in the film industry? Wong has always stated he was bullied quite a lot for his mixed-race origins.
Born to a Hong Kong ethnic Chinese mother Wong Juen Yee and English-born Frederick William Perry in September 1961, Wong has, time and again revealed his mixed origins were the reason he would often be subjected to bullying and discrimination. As he has mentioned during an interview with David Thompson for Channel News Asia, he was often addressed as a "mixed-race foreigner" and "during the 1960s, English-Chinese mixed-race people like me were regarded as bastards".
However, none of the bullying and the discrimination could actually keep Wong from attaining what he had set out to achieve. As one of the best-known alumni of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, his mixed ethnicity initially threw him in some typecast roles as a villain, and Wong strictly believes this was caused due to the institutionalized racism in the Hong Kong film industry during this period.
Although his role as a serial killer in 'The Untold Story' of 1993 got him the Hong Kong Film Award for his performance, Wong was never too fond of the movie in the first place. In his interview with South China Morning Post, the actor confessed: "People liked it; but just because a movie is popular, it doesn’t mean it is good. Drugs are popular. In Hong Kong movies, I was typecast, so, I don’t have many choices. I had to do it for a living."
Wong's skeptical outlook at the Hong Kong film industry probably grew even stronger when he was highly criticized for supporting the Umbrella Movement, a political movement that emerged during the Hong Kong democracy protests of 2014. Although the actor was named "enemy of the state" after his support for the movement, he claims he had no regret about that.
All my support to the 9 pro-democracy activists in #HongKong brought to trial. Prosecution against #UmbrellaMovement is also an attack on free speech everywhere in the world. Beijing & Madrid should understand that #HumanRights are universal @joshuawongcf https://t.co/3efzrUo5PS pic.twitter.com/t5LKjzL02c— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) November 19, 2018
Wong told the news outlet, "I don’t regret it; I did my best. It was not a revolution. I just never agreed with using violence to get what you want; I don’t think the police used the right method, they just made it worse."
However, the outcome of Wong speaking out was not very suitable for the actor as he was completely shut out from the mainland along with several other celebrities such as Chapman To and Denise Ho, who had also supported the movement. However, what continues to bother the actor most about the Hong Kong film industry is the undemocratized norm that continues to loom large on the show business.
During his speech at the Hong Kong Film Awards, the actor took a blow at Jackie Chan's comment about the Chinese and the Hong Kong film circles. On March 5, when asked about the development of Hong Kong films while attending the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, Chan said, "There is only one kind of film, it is called 'Chinese film,' Hong Kong films are also Chinese films."
As a literal retort to Chan's comment, Wong stated, "My real identity is a screenwriter. I talked to an old friend about the most important elements of screenwriting. The first one is that a surprise happens, and another element is that it is reasonable. Will there be a Hong Kong film in the coming year? This is a surprise, that you didn't expect. Reasonably, but unexpectedly, we have Hong Kong movies every year, that makes sense! Doesn't it?"
We can only guess what could have happened after that since the audience reportedly went dead silent after his speech. However, not everything is as politically charged in Wong's life as it seems. The actor does maintain his stance by not speaking much and giving out as less as possible about his life, but his reunion with his half-brothers did not go unseen by the world media.
Wong's father abandoned him at a very early age, and the actor was only left with a handful of old photographs. However, after a report on him by the BBC, about looking for his father, Wong came in touch with his half-brother twins, David and John Perry, who are both now 74-years-old.
We surely cannot wait to see Wong take up his role as the former cop, David Chen, in 'Strangers' and it can be expected Wong will once again put up his serious face to execute this reserved character. 'Strangers' is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Videos in the U.S. February 8. Check out the trailer below to get a brief idea about this gripping thriller of love, loss, and betrayal.