Starting out as a dancer who appeared in music videos for David Bowie, Janet Jackson, and Donna Summer, Russell Wong, who also trained in martial arts in Hong Kong, branched out to acting and appeared in "Tai-Pan" (1986). Since then, the Eurasian actor has played lead roles in such films as "China Girl" (1987), "China White" (1989), "Eat a Bowl of Tea" (1989), "China Cry: A True Story" (1990), "The Prophecy II" (1998), "Takedown" (2000), "Romeo Must Die" (2000), and "Twisted" (2004). He also starred with Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, and Maria Bello in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and with star with Bai Ling, Talia Shire, and Kelly Hu in "Dim Sum Funeral."
On the small screen, TV viewers could catch him starring in the short-lived, but ground-breaking syndicated action television series, "Vanishing Son" (1995), as Jian-Wa Chang, a musician who escaped from the People's Republic of China to the United States after being involved in a student demonstration against the government, and in the short-lived WB action adventure drama "Black Sash" (2003), as Tom Chang, an undercover narcotics cop.
The talented leading man received two awards in 1994, The Image Award by the Organization of Chinese Americans and The Media Achievement Award by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, both for his outstanding work in the entertainment industry and for being a role model for Asian Americans. In 1997, he was also honored in San Francisco by the Asian American Arts Foundation, along with John Woo, Terence Chang and Tia Carrera.
The 6' black-haired, brown-eyed good-looking performer was one of People Magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People” in 1995. He has been married to Flora Cheung, a former Hong Kong actress turned fashion designer, since September 21, 2003.
Childhood and Family:
Son to William Wong, a Chinese-American restaurant owner from Shanghai, and Connie Van Yserloo, a Dutch-American artist from New York, Russell Girard Wong was born in Troy, New York, on March 1, 1963. When he was a baby, his family moved to Albany, New York, where he spent his childhood alongside his six siblings, including Hong Kong based actor, director, singer and producer Michael Wong (born on April 16, 1965; married to model Janet Ma) and actor Declan Wong.
When Wong was 7 years old his parents divorced and he and his mother moved to California. He graduated from Mariposa County High School in 1981 and went to Santa Monica City College that fall. He later attended classes in film production at the prestigious New York University.
Wong, who once dated actress Sunny Chae and has a daughter with a dancer, has been married to Flora Cheung, a former Hong Kong actress turned fashion designer, since September 21, 2003.
A former dancer, Wong is also an avid photographer. Fans can enjoy his photos in a section of his official website.
Besides photography, Wong also enjoys golfing, boxing, singing and miming. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Entering show business after encouragement from his mother, Russell Wong initially took up ballet and jazz. He worked in a junior ballet company's rendition of “The Nutcracker” and appeared as a dancer in music videos for David Bowie and Janet Jackson. He also toured with Donna Summer. He then trained in martial arts in Hong Kong, where he landed a movie deal with a Hong Kong studio.
Around the mid 1980s, Wong scored his earliest screen roles in the Hong Kong films "Ge wu sheng ping" (1985) and "Gwai ma haau yuen" (1986). Wong appeared in his first English speaking film in director Daryl Duke adventure "Tai-Pan" (1986), alongside Bryan Brown, Joan Chen, Tim Guinee, and Kyra Sedgwick. In the film that was loosely based on the 1966 James Clavell's novel, Wong portrayed Gordon Chen, Dirk Struan's (played by Brown) illegitimate Chinese/Scottish son who becomes the leader of the Hong Kong Triads and the richest man in Hong Kong.
Following his English speaking film debut, more lead roles rolled in. He costarred with James Russo and David Caruso in independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara's modern take on the classic tale of "Romeo and Juliet" set in 1980s Manhattan, "China Girl" (1987), acted opposite Billy Drago in Ronny Yu's drama "Gwang tin lung foo wooi" (1989), and starred as an immigrant son in Wayne Wang's film adaptation of Louis Chu's 1961 novel, "Eat a Bowl of Tea" (1989). He also appeared in the made-for-television movies "Harry's Hong Kong" (1987) and "C.A.T. Squad: Python Wolf" (1988) and was spotted as a guest in an episode of CBS’ television series starring Edward Woodward, "The Equalizer," FOX’s drama "21 Jump Street," and the short-lived adventure series starring Louis Gossett Jr., "Gideon Oliver."
The early 1990s saw Wong costar with Julia Nickson-Soul in James F. Collier's fact-based drama "China Cry: A True Story" (1990), team up with Wesley Snipes, Ice T, Mario Van Peebles, Judd Nelson and Chris Rock in the Peebles-directed thriller "New Jack City" (1991), and appear with Vivian Chow in Clifton Ko's romantic comedy "Xia ri qing ren" (1992). He also appeared in the TV Commercial for Macy's. Additionally, Wong could be seen in Tom Kalin's 32-minute short film "Geoffrey Beene 30" (1993; with Claire Danes and Marcia Gay Harden), Wayne Wang's widely-praised film version of the best-selling 1989 novel by Amy Tan, "The Joy Luck Club" (1993; with Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, and Ming Na), and Tony Leung Siu Hung's action movie "Chung kam juk" (1994; starring Jade Leung and Anita Lee).
Wong subsequently spent the rest of the decade on television. He played the lead role of Jian-Wa Chang, a musician who escaped from the People's Republic of China, in a series of four made-for-TV movies, "Vanishing Son," "Vanishing Son II," "Vanishing Son III," and "Vanishing Son IV," which aired on February 28, July 18, July 25, and October 10, 1994, respectively. The TV movies later spawned a short-lived, but ground-breaking syndicated action television series of the same name in 1995. The show that became a part of Universal Television's Action Pack was canceled after thirteen episodes.
Meanwhile, Wong received two awards in 1994, The Image Award by the Organization of Chinese Americans and The Media Achievement Award by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, both for his outstanding work in the entertainment industry and for being an exceptional role model for Asian Americans. He was listed on People Magazine's list of “50 Most Beautiful People” in 1995 and was honored in San Francisco by the Asian American Arts Foundation, along with John Woo, Terence Chang and Tia Carrera, in 1997.
After costarring with James MacArthur in the dramatic TV movie "Hawaii-Five O" (1997), Wong portrayed angel Danyael, who seduced and impregnated a human woman (played by Jennifer Beals), in the straight-to-video released sequel to "The Prophecy," "The Prophecy II" (1998), alongside Christopher Walken, Brittany Murphy, and Eric Roberts. He also appeared in the pilot episode of "Honolulu CRU" (1998) and guest starred in two episodes of CBS’ drama "Touched by an Angel."
Hitting the new millennium, Wong portrayed Tsutomu Shimomura, a U.S. based Japanese-American scientist and computer security expert, in the Joe Chappelle-directed true story-based thriller based on the book by John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura, "Takedown" (aka. "Track Down"), and played Kai, the lead bodyguard to a Chinese Triad boss' son, in Andrzej Bartkowiak's action movie starring Jet Li and Aaliyah, "Romeo Must Die."
On the small screen, he costarred opposite Casper Van Dien in the action movie "The Tracker" (2000) and Thomas Gibson and Bai Ling in the television movie "The Lost Empire" (2001). He also returned to TV series starring as Tom Chang, an undercover narcotics cop, in the short-lived WB action adventure drama "Black Sash" (2003). Afterward, he voiced Nick Kang, a young Chinese-American detective, in the video game "True Crime: Streets of LA" (2003). He also appeared in the films "Twisted" (2004), Philip Kaufman's thriller starring Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia, "Inside Out" (2005), David Ogden's thriller starring Eriq La Salle and Steven Weber, "Undoing" (2006), Chris Chan Lee's drama, and "Honor" (2006), David Worth's martial arts movie in which he costarred with Jason Barry.
During this time, Wong also appeared as a guest in an episode of the popular Emmy Award-winning CBS drama series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and the pilot episode of the short-lived WB television courtroom drama "Just Legal." He was also spotted as a guest in the ABC drama starring Geena Davis, "Commander in Chief," and CBS’ drama starring Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz, "Numb3rs." He then appeared in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," the third film to the "Mummy" franchise in which he costarred with Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, and Maria Bello.
Wong will soon be seen in "Dim Sum Funeral." He costars with Bai Ling, Talia Shire, and Kelly Hu in the movie.