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Before ‘Shang-Chi,’ Tony Leung Avoided Father Role Because of How His Own Dad Treated Him

Leung's "Shang-Chi" villain is a bad father, but he's also "someone who loves his family deeply."

Tony Leung, "Shang-Chi"

Tony Leung, “Shang-Chi”


Tony Leung is one of the most prolific Hong Kong actors in history, and his decades-spanning career has finally led him to a Hollywood tentpole with the upcoming release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Leung stars in the film as Wenwu, the villainous father of the eponymous hero. The MCU is new to Leung, but so is playing a father to a certain degree. Leung has rarely taken on father roles in his career, and told GQ magazine that his relationship with his own father is the reason.

“Someone actually approached me to play the role of a failed father,” Leung said, “but I rejected it because I don’t want to be reminded of how my dad treated me.”

Leung said his lonely childhood led him to admire solitary hobbies later in life such as reading, riding a bicycle, or going to museums. “Maybe it’s because of my childhood background, which made me distance myself from people,” he said, Since then, I’ve learned to find something that I really enjoy doing whilst I’m alone. Because you cannot always rely on being with people to feel happy, right?”

With “Shang-Chi” and the character of Wenwu, Leung finally agreed to play a less-than-perfect father figure on screen. It was this aspect to the character that Leung found appealing as “Frankly, I couldn’t imagine someone in the real world with superpowers…But I can imagine someone like him who is an underdog, who is a failure of a father.”

Leung said of Wenwu, “On the one hand, he’s a bad father, but on the other, I just see him as someone who loves his family deeply. I don’t think he knows how to love himself.”

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