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WHAT'S HOLDING BACK RUSSELL WONG?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 04:56:59 PM)

s the superfly triad enforcer in ROMEO MUST DIE Russell Wong set millions of female hearts palpitating and as many Asian Americans waiting with bated breath. Two years later Hollywood has yet to announce a significant followup role for the gorgeous Chinese American actor. And he turned 38 in March.
     This isn't the first time Wong's career seemed to derail for no apparent reason. Four years earlier countless female hearts had been set aflutter by his long-lashed portrayal of the dashing quester in the syndicated VANISHING SON series. Then, for no apparent reason, the series was canceled.
     It isn't as though Wong is a flash in the pan. Over the past fifteen years he has caught Asian American eyes in a dozen movies and TV dramas like JOY LUCK CLUB, EAT A BOWL OF TEA, TAI PAN, 21 JUMP STREET and CHINA WHITE. Most weren't starring roles but his looks and charisma made him a standout. Critics have questioned his range as an actor but few have accused him of being any worse at his craft than, say, Keanu Reeves who routinely commands seven figures in blockbusters.
     Naturally Asian Americans wonder if Wong's career has been hampered by his surname. Like Reeves, Wong is the product of a Chinese father and a white mother. The most obvious difference is that Reeves took his white stepfather's surname after early separation from his natural father. Another thing, Wong's younger brother Michael is a major Hong Kong action star.
     Is Wong's Asian ethnicity too in-your-face for Hollywood to accept him as a leading man? Or is it too threatening for white America? Or is something else holding him back?

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WHAT YOU SAY

[This page is closed to new input. --Ed.]
"The world is full of many different people, but movies and T.V. have failed to represent them even partially."

I agree. I'm born and raised in New York City. But look at shows like Friends and Seinfeld where the casts and extras are 98% white.
Go to New York and you'll see that it's really like 40% white, 25% black, 25% hispanic, and 10% asian.
white hollywood
   Wednesday, January 08, 2003 at 15:46:31 (PST)    [172.131.192.176]
Keanu's father is not just half Chinese. His father is half Chinese-half Hawaiian and most Hawaiians looks Asian already.
Moe
   Wednesday, January 08, 2003 at 15:39:48 (PST)    [172.131.192.176]
Yes, Russell's new movie "Blackout" is due out September 19, 2003. So let's keep our fingers crossed for the movie to do well at the box office. I'm sure the day will come for Russell to take on a more challenging role.

Racism in Hollywood ... what can you say ? All we need to do is to keep begging the studios to hire more people of color, AA especially.
Phil
   Tuesday, January 07, 2003 at 15:08:08 (PST)    [4.35.211.82]
1) Not sure. Maybe we can go back to the old Hollywood movies where caucasians play the role of Native Americans. Hmmm, on that note, maybe we can have a caucasian playing the role of Charlie Chan (they actually did). Then, perhaps, we can have an Asian playing the role of the Italian Stallion...Rocky Balboa. Would that work?

2) In Hong Kong, Russell and Michael Wong are considered B-movie actors, at best. Yes, sorry for the truth. Don't take my word for it. Look it up yourself. They're, literally, second-string actors behind the likes of Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Lau Ching Wan, Nicholas Tse, Ekin Cheung, etc.
Not all that
   Monday, January 06, 2003 at 21:26:15 (PST)    [63.210.215.215]
Keanu is half Asian? news to me
...thought he was half native American. No doubt about it, he's less "asian" looking than Russell.

RE: Russell,
i thought he had his start in HK, and wouldn't doubt he'd fare better in HK productions than in US. He's devastatingly handsome, that's all i know. And that bod? ummf!!! :) :)
By the way, who did he have the half-black child with? She must be very pretty.
Texan
   Monday, January 06, 2003 at 11:41:28 (PST)    [144.9.158.88]
Yeah, for real, what's holding Russell back? Excellent actor, super fox, what's the hold up. Is it because Hollywood is not ready for an Asian leading man who isn't also some kind of Kung Fu Master? What are everyone else's thoughts re: this? Further more, where are the movies that are just about Asian folk period? Do we have to wait for another Amy Tan movie?!
Elle
ellehamp92@aol.com    Sunday, January 05, 2003 at 17:22:53 (PST)    [198.81.26.141]
The comment that was made about his little girl is mean, it sounds like this person is making it out to seem that he, doesn't care for his child because she is black/asian. Mr. wong if you ever read any of these comments about you, never think or take the word or let stupid, ignorant people make you feel low, of course i don't know him personally and never will, but a parent will always love and always acknowledge their child no matter what race their parent is. i am so tired of this race issue among people of this world, we all came from one god, haven't we learned anything from 9/11. just because this man doesn't talk about his daughter does not mean that he doesn't accept her, it just sounds like you have a problem with him being with a woman of
non-asian decent. i'm upset because i am of mixed race, i have a brother who's also in entertainment who's daughter is of mixed race and i see what i went through, and i see what my brother endures with his daughter. keep your head up Mr. Russell.
Alicia WInbush
winbushblack@aol.com    Saturday, November 09, 2002 at 10:51:37 (PST)    [64.12.96.7]
You know what annoys me about Hollywood?? Its so racist. Its incredible we still havent progressed beyong the vision of accepting other races as superstars .I have seen Russell in every movie he has done up to this point and there is absolutely nothing wrong with his acting.He has a great range of emotions ,great at martial arts and I have heard he is a hell of an awesome guy.!!! If Hollywood cant accept his name you know what?They dont deserve him. I dont think he should ever sell out and use an american name. He considers himself asian and therefor he should be proud and use an asian name .Russel is great,He is just encountering the same close minded prejudice that Bruce Lee did in his career.
What I understand Russell is busy in Honk Kong of late. He is starting a new fashion line of mens clothing. Best of luck Russell
Love ,
A Big Fan.
Leah
joie_77@yahoo.com    Wednesday, November 06, 2002 at 15:04:46 (PST)    [24.138.12.39]
ABC guy,

YOU must have a stereotypical view as to how Caucasians look. Some Caucasians have litte eyes, little noses, full lips, and wide faces.

Yeah Russell Wong can't be playing a Nazi German in a Holocaust movie or Mozart's contemporary but he certainly can play a mixed person or just a modern day person with the name Joe Smith or Helmut Schimmer (Haven't you been to Switzerland or better yet the United States) without having to justify the name.

Even Halle Berry who sees herself as black has played mixed roles. Nancy Kwan played an Italian. Amy Hill, a Hispanic. Tia Carrere has had movie roles with "English" names.

I just hope as an actor Russell wong isn't pursueing only Asian specific roles unless of course, that's what he wants and it makes him happy.

Keanu does look mixed in my opinion but unlike Russell looks less Asian and can get away with more ethnicities. Now if a full-bloodied Asian actor looks like he/she can play a Hispanic, European, etc then he/she should go for it.

Acting is acting not reality. Russell Wong should play Othello if talented enough.
mestiza
   Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 12:50:41 (PST)    [208.14.6.170]
mestiza... russell wong looks more asian than german by far. are you kdding? i've known a coupla guys who looks like him or could be his brother. you have a stereotypical view of what an asian guy looks like. keanu looks mixed but there is a full asian guy i know who looks like him. thing is, these two men had Chinese fathers which explains their looking more Asian, well keanu's dad was half chinese. A theory i hold which seems to be often true. his ethnicity and obvious chinese name probably makes it harder for him because then he is always typecast as a martial arts fool instead of being offered more diverse and interesting roles that would put him on the map with the mainstream.
abc guy
   Monday, October 28, 2002 at 17:22:44 (PST)    [65.184.91.9]
You guys forgot about the role he played in new jack city. I know it was a while ago but i know it was after eat a bowl of tea.
chinsgirl
greybait@aol.com    Wednesday, October 23, 2002 at 10:00:10 (PDT)    [64.12.96.7]
Russell Wong is one of the few Asian American actors who have made it to the big screen. Asian-American actors are being accepted more and more within society. For instance, Lucy Lu, Jackie Chan, Jet Li. But we sometimes forget that behind every actor there is a person. Sometimes the person behind the actor needs a break and live life. I am sure that when the right role comes along, we will see Russell back in action. No doubt, he'll be more talented than ever!
Sacramento Fan
ngomat@hotmail.com    Tuesday, September 24, 2002 at 16:07:56 (PDT)    [12.149.100.21]
One Day,
If he is smart, he will keep his children out of the limelight and out of publicity for the sake of them having a fairly normal and SAFE upbringing.
I sense from your post an implication that he somehow keeps her " secret" and this annoys you. He doesn't. We fans know of her. But never in my wildest dreams would I want or expect him to put his little girl on parade or make his personal life public. If you were a parent , you would understand that we shelter our children from things which could be harmful - and a child does NOT need to live her movie star daddy's public life and intense scrutiny.
Please don't try to imply something negative about Russell. It just ain't so. He is being a good father .
Two Wong Turns
   Tuesday, September 17, 2002 at 11:39:36 (PDT)    [152.163.188.2]
He needs to talk more about his precious half Black daughter, thats what he needs to do.
One day
   Wednesday, September 04, 2002 at 21:12:09 (PDT)
OMG! Color Blind I totally think Russell would kick butt doing some Indy work to revive his career.

He'd probably get more provocative roles too....

Hum that is totally fascinating!
Russell's Sweet Delight
dkjfam4ever@aol.com    Friday, August 16, 2002 at 16:29:04 (PDT)
Hi
Just to update people - Russell Wong does have a major part in Blackout, a movie staring Ashley Judd, Andy Garcia and Samuel Jackson, Jr. that is shooting in San Francisco. I think he plays the part of an police inspector or detective. While I agree that alot of times there seems insufficient parts for minorities, I hope that people are writing parts that also reflect cultural diversity primarily for the sake of the plot or story.

Here's wishing that Russell does get more parts just because he is talented as well as good-looking.
cookiesf
cookiesf@go.com    Thursday, August 15, 2002 at 16:43:52 (PDT)
I think Russell is a GREAT actor whether he's playing a villian in a Triad or not. I also believe that, Hollywood doesn't appreciate the wonderful actor that he is. Even though people say that he should go out for other roles, maybe he has and has been turned down. I own just about every movie he has co-starred in, and no matter what I will always support Russell and continue to LOVE his work.
Russell's Gyrl 4-Ever
lpleasprncss@aol.com    Saturday, August 10, 2002 at 19:19:58 (PDT)
The world is full of many different people, but movies and T.V. have failed to represent them even partially. Look at Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Ramond, etc., none of them have any ethnically diverse lead characters. It's only very recently that they've had a supposed "latino explosion," because they now know they can make money off of them.

The entertainment business is sooo very competitive and depends on mecurial factors beyond talent and tenacity.

Maybe Russell Wong should try his craft at Indies, doing the Sundance circuit, because Independent Features seem more like a more accepting and experimental venue.
Color blind
   Thursday, July 25, 2002 at 01:11:14 (PDT)
Hey! I don`t think that it has anything to do with the name Russel Wong or with his Asian ethnicity. He just didn`t have the right role in the right movie so far. I mean, look at Joaquin Phoenix - there is absolutely no doubt that he is a brilliant actor and very handsome, too, but is there a movie with joaquin playing the main role ?- i think there isn`t. so, it is every actors burden to wait for the one big shot.
spooky
   Wednesday, July 17, 2002 at 13:19:23 (PDT)
I don't know what it is. Russell Wong has strong Caucasian features with an overall Asian aura. I think he looks as mixed as Keanu Reeves. I think his being Asian or looking more Asian is not it.

Also Keanu is just as bizarre a name as Wong so I don't think that's it. Plus Wong is easy to pronounce unlike other Asian names.

Also as an actor he continuously plays Asian roles. He needs to play the everyday Joe like Keanu REeves. Maybe that's what he's doing. Hopefully he is turning down roles as Tom Lee, Charlie Shin, or Max Morita and working to get roles as Tom Polanski, Richard Van Drasek, etc. Mixed actors shouldn't only play Asian roles. They are mixed. They can't be having people typecast them. Russell Wong is part German, why doesn't he snag a German role.

Look at Bjork. She looks Asian but we accept she is Nordic and she played an Eastern European in Dancer in the Dark.
Mestiza
   Wednesday, July 10, 2002 at 10:06:15 (PDT)

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