Daniel Wu

Daniel Wu
Daniel Wu
Chinese name 吳彥祖 (Traditional)
Chinese name 吴彦祖 (Simplified)
Pinyin Wú Yànzǔ (Mandarin)
Jyutping Ng Yin Jou (Cantonese)
Ancestry Shanghai, China
Origin Hong Kong
Born September 30, 1974 (1974-09-30) (age 37)
Berkeley, California, United States
Occupation actor, director, model
Years active 1998–present
Associated acts Alive
Spouse(s) Lisa S. (2010 - present)

Daniel Yin-Cho Wu (simplified Chinese: 吴彦祖; traditional Chinese: 吳彥祖; pinyin: Wú Yànzǔ; jyutping: Ng Yin Jou) (born 30 September 1974) is a Hong Kong actor, director and producer. Since his film debut in 1998, he has been featured in over 40 films. Wu has been called "the young Andy Lau,"[1] and is known as a "flexible and distinctive" leading actor in the Chinese-language film industry.[2]


Early life

Wu was born in Berkeley, California, and raised in Orinda, California. His parents were immigrants from Shanghai, China.[3] Wu developed an interest in martial arts when he saw Jet Li in The Shaolin Temple,[1] and consequently began studying the form known as wushu at age 11.[4] His childhood role model was Jackie Chan,[5] a man who now considers Wu "like a son."[6] Wu attended the Head-Royce School in Oakland, California[7] and later majored in architecture at the University of Oregon. While there, he founded the University of Oregon Wushu club in 1994 and served as the team's first coach.[8] During this time, Wu also took film classes and frequented local theaters, and came to enjoy the works of filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa and Luc Besson, who he describes as "men of vision."[1] Following graduation, Wu traveled in 1997 to Hong Kong to witness the handover of Hong Kong, with no intention of taking on a movie career. At the suggestion of his sister, Wu began modeling.[5][9] Four months later, film director Yonfan, after seeing Wu featured in a clothing ad at an MTR station, approached Wu about starring in an upcoming movie.[1][10]

Acting career

Despite his inability at the time to speak Hong Kong Cantonese[11] or read Chinese,[12] Wu successfully completed his first movie, Yonfan's Bishonen in 1998. Still today, when he receives a Cantonese script, his assistant reads the entire piece, while he is making notes on the pronunciation. The day after Bishonen wrapped, Wu was offered the leading role in Mabel Cheung's City of Glass (for which Wu was nominated as best new actor at the 18th Hong Kong Film Awards[13]), and later, a supporting part in Young and Dangerous: The Prequel, from Andrew Lau's gangster film series. Around this time, Wu met superstar Jackie Chan at a restaurant opening,[14] and was quickly signed to Chan's JC Group with agent Willie Chan.[10] Wu's breakthrough performance came in 1999 with his role in Benny Chan's Gen-X Cops. He followed this success with roles in a variety of movies including big-budget thriller Purple Storm, art-house production Peony Pavilion, and the extremely successful Love Undercover. In 2001, Wu received criticism from the Hong Kong media for sexual scenes with Suki Kwan in Cop on a Mission, but Wu says that same criticism attracted the attention of directors and the film represented a turning point in the types of roles he chose in the future.[15]

Wu's first experience in film production came with his starring role in Julian Lee's 2003 film, Night Corridor. Due to budgetary constraints, Wu also participated in the search for funding for, and distribution of, the film, and recruited Jun Kung to create the soundtrack.[16] Though Night Corridor dealt with "risky" themes,[9] Wu felt he had less reliance on image than many of his pop-star actor peers,[16] and he was nominated for best actor at Taiwan's 40th Golden Horse Film Awards for his effort.[17] During 2003, Wu also took part as producer and creative director on "MTV's Whatever Things!", a "Jackass"-styled program aired in Asia,[18] also featuring Sam Lee, Josie Ho, Terence Yin, and other celebrities.[19] Also during 2003, Wu took part in a stage production of The Happy Prince at the Edward Lam Dance Theater[20] as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, during which he recited a 16-minute monologue in Cantonese, learned entirely from pinyin.[21] In 2005, Wu was nominated as best actor at the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Derek Yee's One Nite in Mongkok,[22] and as best supporting actor for New Police Story.[23] At the 41st Golden Horse Film Awards, Wu won the award for best supporting actor for New Police Story.[24] The win came as a surprise to him, because he "didn't think that much" of his performance in the film.[15]

In 2005, Chinese media began to report that Wu had formed a boyband, Alive, with Terence Yin, Andrew Lin, and Conroy Chan.[25] Wu and his band mates posted information, updates, personal thoughts (including slamming Hong Kong Disneyland, for which they were spokespersons[26]), and the band's music, at their official website.[25][25][27] In 2006, Wu made his writing and directorial debut with The Heavenly Kings, which chronicles Alive's formation and exploits.[28] After the film's release, however, it was revealed that The Heavenly Kings was actually a mockumentary of the Hong Kong pop music industry, and Alive was constructed purely as a vehicle to make the movie; the film's characters represented only 10-15% of their real-life counterparts[29] and much of the footage blurred the line between fiction and reality.[28] Wu admitted his own singing voice "sucked really bad," and the band had their voices digitally enhanced for its music, to prove that "it's easy to fake it."[27] Despite some backlash from the media over being intentionally fed false information in the movie[30] about illegal downloads of the band's music,[29] Wu won the best new director award at the 26th Hong Kong Film Awards, an achievement he called "a group effort."[30]

Other projects

In April 2007, Wu re-launched his band's old website, AliveNotDead.com, with Terence Yin and RottenTomatoes.com founders Patrick Lee and Stephen Wang, as a place for filmmakers, musicians, and other artists to collaborate, receive exposure, network, and interact with fans.[31][32] He continues his modeling career as spokesperson for a variety of products such as Seiko[33] and L'Oréal.[34] Wu posed for the charity photography album SuperStars by Leslie Kee,[35] and performed on rapper Jin's song, "HK Superstar."[36] Wu is an investor in Racks MDB Shanghai, which opened in 2008.[37]

Personal life

Wu's parents, George (a retired engineer) and Diana (a college professor)[3] are natives of Shanghai, China. His father emigrated to the United States after the communist revolution in China in 1949, and met his mother in New York, where she was a student. After marrying they settled in California.[5] Wu also has two older sisters, Greta and Gloria. He maintains residences in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.[27] He continues to actively train in wushu as well as other martial arts.[27]

On April 6, 2010, Wu married Lisa S. in South Africa.[38]


Year English title Chinese title Role Notes
1998 Bishonen 美少年の恋 Sam Fai
City of Glass 玻璃之城 Daniel credited as Daniel Ng;
nominated: Hong Kong Film Awards, best new actor
Young and Dangerous: The Prequel 新古惑仔之少年激鬥篇 Big Head credited as Daniel Ng
1999 Gorgeous 玻璃樽 photographer's assistant
Gen-X Cops 特警新人類 Daniel
Purple Storm 紫雨風暴 Todd Nguyen
2000 2000 AD 公元2000 Benny
Undercover Blues 刑 「殺之法」 Joe Wong
2001 Headlines 頭號人物 Peter Wong
Hit Team 重裝警察 Inspector Chung Chai
Cop on a Mission 知法犯法 Mike
Born Wild 野獸之瞳 Tide Ho
Beijing Rocks 北京樂與路 Michael Wu
Peony Pavilion 遊園驚夢 Xing Zhi Gang
2002 Beauty and the Breast 豐胸秘Cup Harper
Love Undercover 新紮師妹  Au Hoi Man
Princess D 想飛  Joker
Devil Face, Angel Heart 變臉迷情 Long
The Peeping 偷窺無罪 Calvin
Naked Weapon 赤裸特工 Jack Chen
2003 Night Corridor 妖夜迴廊 Sam Yuen/Hung also producer;
nominated: Golden Horse Film Awards, best actor
Love Undercover 2: Love Mission 新紮師妹2: 美麗任務 Au Hoi Man
Hidden Track 尋找周杰倫 police officer
Miss Du Shi Niang Miss 杜十娘 Ken Li
2004 Magic Kitchen 魔幻厨房 Kevin
Chiseen 黐線 DVD version of some segments of MTV's Whatever Things
Enter the Phoenix 大佬愛美麗 Georgie Hung
One Nite In Mongkok 旺角黑夜 Lai Fu nominated: Hong Kong Film Awards, best actor
Around the World in 80 Days 80日環遊世界 Bak Mei
The Twins Effect II 千機變II: 花都大戰 Wei Liao
Beyond Our Ken 公主復仇記 Ken
New Police Story 新警察故事 Joe Kwan winner: Golden Horse Film Awards, best supporting actor
nominated: Golden Rooster Film Awards, best supporting actor
2005 DragonBlade 龍刀奇緣 Hung Lang voiceover
House of Fury 精武家庭 Jason
Divergence 三岔口  Coke
Drink-Drank-Drunk 千杯不醉 Michael
Everlasting Regret 長恨歌 Kang Mingxun
2006 Rob-B-Hood 寶貝計劃 Brokeback Security agent Daniel
McDull, the Alumni 春田花花同學會 hostage-taker
The Banquet 夜宴 Prince Wu Luan
The Heavenly Kings 四大天王  Daniel Wu also writer & director;
winner: Hong Kong Film Awards, best new director
2007 Protégé 門徒 Nick
Ming Ming 明明 D
Blood Brothers 天堂口 Ah Fung
2009 Shinjuku Incident 新宿事件 Jie
Overheard 竊聽風雲 Max Lam
Like a Dream 如夢 Max nominated: Golden Horse Film Awards, best actor
Jump 跳出去 doctor
2010 Hot Summer Days 全城熱戀 Sushi master
Triple Tap 鎗王之王 Chong Tze-wai
2011 Don't Go Breaking My Heart 單身男女
The Founding of a Party 建党伟业 Hu Shih
Overheard 2 竊聽風雲2
TBA Inseparable 形影不離


  1. ^ a b c d Frater, Patrick (2006-04-11). "Golden deal is 'Heavenly'". Variety. http://variety.com/article/VR1117941353.html. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  2. ^ "blog entry". Daniel Wu's official blog. 2005-03-30. http://www.alivenotdead.com/daniel/Life+is+a+Struggle+%28taken+from+the+Official+Daniel+Wu+Fan+Newsletter%29-profile-3559.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  3. ^ a b Graham, Bob (2001-04-04). "Bay Area actor 'discovered' as a model in Hong Kong Daniel Wu of 'Cop' has since made 17 films in four years". SF Gate. San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/07/04/DD.DTL&hw=daniel+wu&sn=001&sc=1000. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  4. ^ "Daniel Wu interview". LOVEFiLM International Ltd. 2000-01-01. http://www.lovefilm.co.uk/features/detail.html?section_name=interview&editorial_id=2346. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  5. ^ a b c Chan, Sip-ling (1999-11-14). "Kung fu kick-starts Wu's self-discovery". The Standard. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=53960&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=19991114&sear_year=1999. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  6. ^ "Jackie Chan: from action maestro to serious actor". China Daily. 2004-09-24. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-09/24/content_377571.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  7. ^ Lee, Lisa (2008-05-02). "Daniel Wu: alive, not dead". AsianWeek. http://www.asianweek.com/2008/05/02/daniel-wu-alive-not-dead/#. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  8. ^ "University of Oregon Wushu Club". Archived from the original on 2007-11-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20071116102428/http://www.geocities.com/uowushu/about.html. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  9. ^ a b Scott, Matthew (1999-11-14). "Daniel's dark awakening". Night Corridor film website. http://nightcorridor.com/daniel_interview_scmp.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  10. ^ a b Tse, Sabrina (1998-05-07). "Screen newcomer enjoys his moment under the sun". The Standard. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=693&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=19980507&sear_year=1998. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  11. ^ Hui, Yuanna (1998-10-23). "Drawing a blueprint for success". The Standard patrick. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=48817&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=19981023&sear_year=1998. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  12. ^ "blog entry". Daniel Wu's official blog. 2001-11-22. http://www.alivenotdead.com/daniel/Hi+it-s+me+Daniel+again-%28+taken+from+the+official+Daniel+Wu+Fan+Newsletter%29-profile-3541.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  13. ^ "Hong Kong Film Awards archive". http://www.hkfaa.com/history/list_18.html. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  14. ^ Johnson, G. Allen (1999-03-17). "Fast road to stardom". SF Gate. San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1999/03/17/STYLE754.dtl&hw=daniel+wu&sn=006&sc=200. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  15. ^ a b "Daniel Wu interview". Hong Kong Cinema. Vengeance Magazine. 2005-01. http://www.hkcinema.co.uk/Articles/danielwuinterview.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  16. ^ a b "A conversation with Daniel Wu". 2003-08-24. http://www.cinemasie.com/en/interviews/danielwu/danielwu1EN.php. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  17. ^ "The Heavenly Kings". San Francisco Chinatown. 2007-04. http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/events/movies/heavenlykings.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  18. ^ "blog entry". Daniel Wu's official blog. 2003-11-26. http://www.alivenotdead.com/daniel/Message+from+Daniel-November.+%28taken+from+the+Official+Daniel+Wu+Fan+Newsletter%29-profile-3554.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  19. ^ Kan, Wendy (2003-08-31). "'Whatever' goes on MTV prank spree". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117891738.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  20. ^ "Hong Kong Arts Festival archive". http://www.hk.artsfestival.org/en/about/past/0307. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  21. ^ Ng, Teddy (2003-02-26). "Daniel takes center stage". The Standard. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=212&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=20030226&sear_year=2003. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  22. ^ Rothrock, Vicki (2005-02-02). "HK film noms do the 'Hustle'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117917307.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1&query=hong+kong+noms+do+the+. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  23. ^ "Hong Kong Film Awards archive". http://www.hkfaa.com/history/list_24.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  24. ^ "Golden Horse goes to mainland movie Kekexili". China Daily. 2004-12-05. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-12/05/content_397379.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  25. ^ a b c Chen, Fengfeng (2005-08-04). "Daniel Wu forms a new band". China Radio International. http://english.cri.cn/2246/2005-8-4/140@263595.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  26. ^ Rothrock, Vicki (2005-09-04). "A word of cultural caution". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117928490.html. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  27. ^ a b c d Johnson, G. Allen (2007-04-25). "A model, actor, singing sensation (well, sort of) and now a director". SF Gate. San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/25/DDGDMPE72A1.DTL&hw=daniel+wu&sn=002&sc=399. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  28. ^ a b Eddy, Cheryl (2007-04-25). "Bubblegum bandits". San Francisco Bay Guardian. http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=3503. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  29. ^ a b "The great Cantopop swindle". The Standard. 2006-05-22. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=40&art_id=17068&sid=7552943&con_type=3&d_str=20060422&sear_year=2006. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  30. ^ a b Young, Jennifer (2007-04-29). "Daniel Wu, "Heavenly King"". indieWIRE. originally from SF360. Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20080313172117/http://www.indiewire.com/people/2007/04/people_daniel_w.html. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  31. ^ Young, Jennifer (2008-03-15). "Daniel Wu". SF360. San Francisco Film Society. Archived from the original on 2008-03-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20080318093537/http://www.sf360.org/features/daniel-wu. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  32. ^ "alivenotdead.com". 2007-04-08. http://www.alivenotdead.com/aboutus.html. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  33. ^ "Daniel Wu signed as spokesperson for the second year starring in the latest SEIKO Criteria Men Watches Collection advertisement". Seiko. 2008-05-07. Archived from the original on 2008-05-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20080506042313/http://www.thongsia.com.hk/thongsia/web/eng/promotion.php?cid=1. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  34. ^ "L'Oréal Taiwan". http://www.lorealparis.com.tw/frameset.asp?/skincare/menexpert.asp. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  35. ^ "300 stars, nude in name of charity". China Radio International. 2006-11-30. http://english.cri.cn/3086/2006/11/30/60@169119_3.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  36. ^ "discography". Jin's official website. http://www.jinforthewin.com. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  37. ^ "Pooling resources". China Radio International. 2008-03-31. http://english.cri.cn/3086/2008/03/01/1221@328735.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  38. ^ Daniel Wu (2010-04-17). "My Wedding!!!". alive not dead. http://www.alivenotdead.com/daniel/My-Wedding--profile-963140.html. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 

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