Most of Wong's film work is through his agent in Beverly Hills. He also has a
press agent in New York, Denise Leong. Leong says Wong doesn't open up to
a lot of people but is a very warm sensitive man. He gets a lot of requests for
talks and interviews but normally doesn't agree to them. Wong says he
agreed to the TRANSPACIFIC interview because he had liked the article on
the Japanese American actor Mako that had appeared in the magazine.
Women "flock to him at parties but he downplays it", says Leong. When
questioned about this Wong shrugged and said "just a few". Wong prefers
smaller parties and goes to "about three a year".
One easily gathers that Russell Wong is an intensely private man. Even the
reading on his answering machine in New York is just a hint of music
followed by the beep. According to his mother, Wong is "very loyal to his
friends. Once he makes a friend it's for a lifetime. Wong says he keeps his
innermost feelings even from his handful of friends. According to his mother,
Wong "doesn't ask for advice and doesn't give advice".
Wong enjoys talking to people who have had similar life experiences,
especially those resulting from a bad parental marriage. What about people
he meets on the set? He decribes his memory on each set a "nice memory".
"I like hearing about other peoples' lives because they are intriguing," is how he puts it.
Time and again Wong shows a strong interest in the metaphysical. His
mother believes that people are "born with destiny and fate" and Wong
seems to share that view. He doesn't read many novels but has a insatiable
appetite for zen-related books. He can never get enough of the "forces
beyond what we see". Occasionally, for fun, he visits fortune tellers to find
out where he "stands in the universe at this moment". With some warmth
Wong recalls a Hong Kong fortune teller's reading that he had been a
Chinese general in a previous life. Wong also enjoys art books. Not
surprisingly, Van Gogh is his favorite.
To become a "well-respected actor" (with a heavy emphasis on "respected") is
Wong's overriding ambition. Toward this end, he leads a diciplined life.
Normally he awakes at 7:30 am, usually cooks breakfast for himself, and
leads a healthy, active life, mostly alone. He's always attending acting and
dancing classes, weight trains three or four times a week, runs, practices
boxing, and rents five or six videos a week to study acting. He loves to take
long walks through Manhattan and eats dinner out at neighborhood
restaurants. He goes to sleep around eleven most nights.
He funtions best in the afternoons and nights, but has no problem working 14
hour days on the set. His one vice is cigarettes which he smokes at the rate
of a half pack a day. It's a habit he picked up at 22 while bored on the set of
Tai Pan (in which he plays the illegitimate son of Tai Pan). He used to
drink until he found it made him hyper and depressed.
In his constant search for perfect balance, Wong was once a devout
vegetarian. Then he noticed that a meatless diet heightened his already
acute sensitivity to other people's psychic energy. It proved to be a
distraction he would rather not deal with.
Wong considers himself a good cook. His favorite dish to cook is stir-fried
chicken with hot sauce. Among Chinese foods he prefers Shanghainese,
mostly fish. Liver, veal and lamb don't touch his lips.