Just in my last post on HKTV’s The Election, I mentioned my favourite character right now in that series is Cheung Kwai Lung, portrayed by Gregory Wong 王宗堯. I’m very happy to see him back on the TV screen because back in 2008, he filmed Who’s The Hero (勝者為王) with a pretty decent cast including Chilam Cheung, Ada Choi and Chapman To. However, it was not aired until 2010 since the drama was unfortunately made by ATV. (I say this because I think the drama will be more well known if it was aired on TVB.) I remember shipping his character with Ada Choi, which was no mean feat since Chilam is one of my favourites since… a long time ago. For some reason though, I originally thought Gregory was Taiwanese possibly because he worked in Taiwan for a number of years but looking at his filmography, I haven’t seen any of his earlier works. Anyway, after The Election (選戰), Gregory had been in the media spotlight a lot more. This interview from Sudden Weekly is pretty long and we get a glimpse into his family background and his journey in the entertainment industry.
[Sudden Weekly is a bit of a tabloid-y magazine but this article is actually useful for once.]
Time Roamer – Gregory Wong
Haven’t seen the movie Due West: Our Sex Journey (一路向西)?
Haven’t seen Lan Kwai Fong (喜愛夜蒲)? Doesn’t matter.
Must’ve seen HKTV’s The Election (選戰) right…
In The Election, Gregory Wong plays Cheung Kwai Lung, an important member of Angelica Lee’s team. Waited for 11 years, he became a “god of HKGolden”. (God as in the male counterpart of ‘goddess’ status given to female celebrities, and HKGolden is a well known forum in Hong Kong, like PTT in Taiwan.)
We’re all very mindful of time, but we must not be a slave to it. The most important thing is to follow our hearts.
“At first, my dad set me a deadline of five years. But in this industry, five years is just a very short time.”
Not long ago, he was photographed with protective gear at Lung Wo Road outside the Chief Executive’s Office. Many netizens suddenly said he appears more handsome, becoming a real ‘god’.
“I was there to support the students, hoping to let everyone know we still care about Hong Kong.”
Suddenly? What you might not know is that a month or so ago, Gregory was already in Admiralty. But at the time not many people recognised him. It’s sad that in life, we only notice people when they’re popular.
王宗堯 (Wong Jung Yiu), the word Yiu refers to an Emperor in Chinese history. One of the five emperors. “My father named my younger brother Shun (舜) and I, Yiu (堯), descendants from Chinese Emperors (帝堯 and 帝舜).” When a father names his sons after Emperors, he hopes they will become leaders or have the life of a leader, right?
But Gregory deviated away from this path.
His family lives in a 3000 sq. ft house in Lung Ha Wan. His mother is a housewife and his father has businesses in hospitality, toys, property development etc. He has two younger brothers. One is four years younger and the other is five years younger. One of his brothers is in Finance and the other just took over the family business. As the eldest son, Gregory chose a career his father thought was the most impractical – acting.
“My Dad has traditional Chinese values. He wants you to work in a practical field. Be a professional, or be someone who can earn money and support a family. Or at least in a field where there’s more stability. He is definitely not the type of person who will suggest his son to go study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.”
Ever since he was young, Gregory’s father took a lot of care to raise him. He went to St. Francis Of Assisi’s English Primary School and Ying Wa College. After F.3 he was sent to England. He chose to study Economics and graduated from the University College of London – the same school as the billionaire daughter-in-law Cathy Tsui. His resume is so impressive. After he graduated and returned to Hong Kong, he worked in his father’s company. But six months later, he went to Taiwan to become a model and film dramas. Inheriting his father’s business? That never occurred in his life.
“My personality isn’t suited to business. If I’m running a business, I will probably give everything away. ‘Hey Hey Hey, this one is good! Take it!’ So I’ll lose all the business. Also, when I was younger, I was more rebellious and wanted to try other jobs. But after I tried I fell in love with it. That’s even worse! Can’t leave!”
“Also, my dad said I wasn’t devoted when I was working for him. It’s like I was cheating my wages. He said my heart wasn’t in it. It was because at the time a friend introduced me to become a model so sometimes I would go to castings. After work I would play football, or helped a friend to take care of their store. I wasn’t interested in sitting in an office at all. He said to me, ‘So that means you don’t want to work here? If you’re like this, I’m just wasting money paying your wage. You should be more serious.’ I replied, ‘Actually, I don’t really want to work here.’ So he sent me to Taiwan. I went to Taiwan because my relatives knew people from some production and management companies. So I ended up signing with Uncle Yip whom I have known since I was a child. I signed with Dorian (多利安) which was a subsidiary of his company (藝能), the same company as Rainie Yang and Roy Qiu.”
Starting his career in Taiwan
Gregory first arrived in Taiwan in 2003. He didn’t have a lot of work but rent, food… everything needed money. So he was still relying on his parents.
“The first four, five months I hadn’t signed with any company. I needed to show people my portfolio so I had to take photos and print com cards. The photos needed stylists, photographers, hair stylists… there were many overheads. Everything needed money. So in the beginning I still needed my family’s support. Dad said at the time, ‘You dipped your toes in it already so you should just go for it.’ Later when I had more steady work, I would film commercials, or be the spokesperson for some bigger brands. Actually that paid pretty well.”
After he signed with the company, he was immediately sent to do a cameo in the idol drama Original Summer (原味的夏天) which starred Peter Ho, Roy Qiu and Rainie Yang.
“A memorable scene was when we were filming on the beach. We filmed the first scene at 8am. That scene was very simple but I filmed for the whole morning! Rainie had pretty tanned skin at the time plus she was under the sun all morning. She already became charcoal. The lighting technician grew impatient and just used his stomach to hold up the lighting board. Seeing this situation, plus the camera was right in front of me, I couldn’t say my lines properly. I was really scared and under a lot of pressure.”
Gregory never had the desire to perform and was very shy as a child. After he travelled with Peter Ho and performed in many shows in Taiwan, he finally overcame his fear in front of the audience and cameras. In 2008, he filmed a China/HK/Taiwan collaboration drama Flowers of Love (花之戀). That’s when he really started to love acting. His mother in the drama, Judy Ongg (翁倩玉) even took him as her godson.
“In the drama, Judy and I were mother/son. Actually she was already an artiste with the status of a national treasure. But after filming everyday, she will go back to the hotel, go through her lines for the next day with her assistant, recording while reading the script, then she’ll play it back, correct it after she listened to it, read again… next day, she’ll come as ready. Seeing how professional a senior was really affected my attitude as well.”
Besides being Judy Ongg’s godson, there were rumours that he’s also Alan Tam’s godson and have such strong connections. But he immediately declared, “No I’m not. Maybe I’m familiar with the people from 藝能 since I was young. Alan was from 藝能. When I was young, I went to his concerts and watched the Stars Football team. When I came back from Taiwan I signed with 藝能. Alan is someone who really takes care of juniors. He took me to different places. Maybe that’s why people started saying I was his godson.”
After spending 6 years in Taiwan, he suddenly sensed it was time to go back to Hong Kong. Coincidentally, the drama Who’s the hero (勝者為王IV爭霸) was filmed in Hong Kong so he came back naturally. Initially, his career wasn’t going well, coupled with his father’s discouraging words, there were conflicts between father and son.
“Ever since I was young, I have a very good relationship with my Dad. He’s my role model, a model daddy. I’ve always respected him and am very filial. But in 2008, I returned from Taiwan to Hong Kong and my career wasn’t going too well. I lived with my family and my dad thought I had to face the truth. Whether it’s getting a steady job, find some part time… I just can’t be at home every day. During that period I was quite depressed and didn’t have confidence. And my dad was nagging me everyday. It made me think – am I really suitable for this industry? Later when my career became smoother, I moved out. Even though we see each other less, our relationship improved.
Although Dad won’t openly say he supports my career in the entertainment industry, he’s the one who cares the most about my work. I have a great relationship with my mum, but usually she’s not the first one to find out about my news. Often it’s my Dad who tells her.”
Since returning to Hong Kong, Gregory made a few movies but didn’t leave a huge impression on the audience until Lan Kwai Fong (喜愛夜蒲) and Due West: Our Sex Journey (一路向西). Both roles are clubbers/partygoers. His image as a partygoer is so ingrained it must be because he’s like that in real life. Then we can hear some laughter from a distance. After Gregory heard it, he said, “I heard my colleagues whisper that (a partygoer) my real personality. I don’t know. Maybe I was.”
And then he freely admits, “Yes! In the past I was like that. The most outrageous was the month or two before I left Taiwan. Since I knew I was going back to Hong Kong, every night for those two months I went out drinking. After I went out drinking, I woke up and it was already 3 or 4pm. I went to the pharmacy to buy some liver health medicine then go back home to wake up my friends. Everyone had a glass of water and took the medicine. After we ate, we went out for more drinking! We could start from night time and continue until 10am the next day. That was how crazy it was.”
After returning to Hong Kong, he actually went out less. Besides getting older and it’s about time to settle down, he also thinks the way people party in Hong Kong is becoming more about flaunting their wealth.
“Nowadays the people in Hong Kong just compete based on wealth, like the people in China who likes to put their car keys on the table, comparing what type of car they’re driving. Or they compete on how many fireworks champagne they can place on the table. So how fun would that be? I don’t know! I can be quite crazy with my Taiwanese friends. We’ll go out to dance. We’ll order a whole table of alcohol, but we drink all sorts of weird stuff.”
Drinking and meeting girls seem like a natural combination. When he was in Taiwan, he had 4, 5 girlfriends which isn’t considered that many. After he returned to Hong Kong, when he was 30 years old he met the 22 year old DaDa Chan (陳靜) who was a model at the time and hadn’t officially entered the entertainment industry. They dated for about a year and broke up.
“In the beginning we had a good relationship, but long term it might not work. We want different things in life. I want satisfaction in my work (acting). Maybe she wants to be more financially stable to feel secure. She works really hard to earn money, perform in many shows, buy property, then buy another property to rent out. She’s smarter about these things. I can’t do that for now.”
DaDa said in the past she was a very expressive girlfriend. She will check her boyfriend’s phone and she doesn’t even know how many of her boyfriend’s phones she broke. Gregory said, “Her emotions will come whenever, but actually that’s pretty good because that means she’s genuine She’s very generous and good to her friends. I heard she got angry during work (a nightclub function). She nearly fought with someone to protect her manager! But actually she’s the one who needs protecting.”
Gregory said he’s not dating anyone right now and then gave out a bunch of advice, “Dating is either about giving money, giving time or showing some creativity. As you get older you have less creativity to do the romantic things. You become practical. I don’t have time. When I work, I work for 20 hours. When I get home I can’t wait to go to sleep. I don’t have much money now either. Then what can I give someone?”
So what does he think about being named a “HKGolden male god”?
“Nowadays people are more accepting of HKGolden. It’s becoming a more mainstream media outlet. Plus, a lot of my work is related to it, like ‘Due West: A Sex Journey’ and now I will star in another movie ‘Rich Guy Imprisoned’, both based on writings posted there.”
And then he smiled and said, “If there’s a chance, I will probably thank HKGolden.”
***This wasn’t in the article, but thought I should include this video because it’s hilarious. In it, he reads a thread on HKGolden and thanks the netizens’ support.