Tony Leung on Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster of Wong Kar-wai Films: Interview with Tony Leung

In his sixth collaboration with director Wong Kar-wai, Tony Leung plays Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, most famous in the West for training Bruce Lee.

by Ada Tseng

Tony Leung has shaved his head for the summer. Why? “It’s hot,” he says. A reporter asks if it’s for a new role, and he shakes his head. After four years of training and shooting Wong Kar-wai’s latest film, The Grandmaster, Leung wants a vacation.

The Grandmaster opens in New York and Los Angeles today, August 23, and it will expand nationwide next week. The film, which premiered to box office success in China back in January, stars Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Song Hye-kyo and Cung Le. But it’s Leung who carries the film as the titular character Ip Man, a martial artist who didn’t have to work until he was 40 and then saw his world turned upside down during the Sino-Japanese War. Exiled to Hong Kong, he would eventually begin teaching Wing Chun and establish his legacy.

Wong Kar-wai wanted Leung to create a character that combined Ip Man and his most famous student, Bruce Lee. “These two people are connected,” explains Leung. “We don’t have any information about Ip Man before he settled down in Hong Kong, and no one knew how he lived his life in China, so why not have Ip Man be a young, charismatic Bruce Lee? A very playful, confident Bruce Lee. So that’s how I merged Bruce Lee into the life of Ip Man before he settled down in Hong Kong.”

A week before the American release, Tony Leung was at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills talking to journalists about his latest film.

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For You Big Bang Theory Fans: Kunal Nayyar as Raj

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DEPT: Pop-arazzi
AUTHOR: Ada Tseng
ISSUE: Audrey Magazine Summer 2013


Having just completed its sixth season, the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is more popular than it’s ever been (currently the highest-rated show in television with 20 million view- ers), and 31-year-old Indian British actor Kunal Nayyar is working on his favorite storyline so far: his astrophysicist character Raj finally falls in love.

“It’s fun to explore that side of Raj,” says Nayyar, “to see him be vulnerable because he has a legitimate shot with a girl. I don’t think we’ve seen him genuinely like someone yet.”

Part of the reason Raj’s personal life has been so slow to develop is because he has social anxiety disorder, specifically selective mutism, which makes him unable to talk to women. Early in the first season, Raj discovered that alcohol overrides his psychological fears, and he has since experimented with other pharmaceutical drugs with varying re- sults. Though often played for laughs, it’s a serious disorder that thwarts his desire to be a ladies’ man.

When Raj meets Lucy (played by Kate Micucci), he asks her out for coffee, only to have her excuse herself to go to the bathroom and sneak out the window. This sends Raj into a mini depression, and his friends find him alone in his apartment, bingeing on lobster, wearing only his tighty whities.

“You know, I’m not insecure about the way that I look, and as an actor, you’re just playing the circumstances,” says Nayyar. “But it’s not like I have a six-pack, so when I saw it, [knowing that] 20 million people were watching, I was like, ‘My God, time to go on a diet.’” He laughs. “But in my defense, I was wearing three [pairs of] underwear under the [top] one, because they wanted my tummy to stick out a little more.”

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Tips for an Adventure in New Zealand’s South Island

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DEPT: The Good Life
ISSUE: Audrey Magazine Summer 2013

Honeymooning could be full of long walks on the beach and relaxing couples spas — or you could explore the adventurous outdoors in New Zealand’s South Island to see how much excitement you can really take.

A travel agent had advised us against the campervan. She told us that approximately a third of her American clients who campervan through New Zealand end up crashing into something. You’re driving on the left side of the road, steering from the right side of the car, and operating a vehicle bulky enough to fit a makeshift sofa-bed, kitchen and bathroom inside. She didn’t even mention the windy mountain roads, the absence of street lights outside the tiny towns, and the wonder that is the “one-lane bridge.”

We didn’t listen to her. Other things we ignored: the campervan customer service representative’s concerned look after he saw we were headed toward Arthur’s Pass for our first time left-lane driving; the recommendation we not drive at night (unfortunately at sunset, we were still three hours away from our destination); the red light we accidentally missed that resulted in us driving toward oncoming traffic (the driver was surprisingly understanding when we apologized); and that sign for “Death’s Corner” I drove past that I thought best not to mention to my husband, his eyes closed, dizzy from carsickness in the passenger’s seat.

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Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane in Mortal Instruments

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DEPT: Pop-arazzi
AUTHOR: Ada Tseng
ISSUE: Audrey Magazine Summer 2013
PHOTOS: Jetstar Entertainment


In Asian TV dramas, the male protagonist is often a young, arrogant, rich kid who’s about to have his world turned upside down by the wholesome, down-to-earth female who finally makes him want to be a better person. To set this up, there’s often an obliga- tory scene where a crowd of girls lunges themselves at the leading man, causing your average feminist viewer to roll her eyes.

But when Godfrey Gao, dressed in an all-white suit, makes girls’ hearts go aflutter in the first episode of the 2010 Taiwanese drama Volleyball Lover, it seems quite realistic. Or perhaps, your eyes are too stunned to roll.

It doesn’t hurt that Gao’s athletic character, Bai Qian Rui, is not arrogant, but in fact kind of silly. In order to cheer up his best friend, he crouches his entire 6-foot-4-inch frame low to the ground and jumps up and down like a gorilla. “I think that character is closest to my personality,” says the Taiwanese- Malaysian Canadian, “because I can be quite goofy sometimes.”

Born in Taipei, Gao moved to Vancouver at age 9 and immediately noticed cultural differences. “I remember [Canadian] girls in school greeting friends or strangers with hugs, some- times even [taking] a running jump to give a hug,” says Gao, “whereas in Taiwan, girls were mostly shy, and if boys came up to talk to them, they’d run away and giggle from a healthy distance.”

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Paul Yoon’s Snow Hunters, out August 6

After the War

Paul Yoon’s new novel about a North Korean war veteran allows him to connect with an intimate family history.


While researching Korean history for his first short story collection, 2009’s critically-acclaimed Once The Shore, Paul Yoon read that after the Korean War ended in 1953, there were North Korean prisoners of war in South Korea who, rather than return north to their home country, opted to defect to South America.

“It felt like such an odd fact that was just glossed over,” remembers Yoon. “So it piqued my curiosity, and I became obsessed with this notion that a group of prisoners would choose to travel to the other side of the world.”

This detail of history would become the inspiration for Yoon’s latest book, Snow Hunters, a novel released this month by Simon & Schuster. The first chapter follows 25-year-old Yohan, a North Korean veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, as he first arrives in Brazil, a country he had never heard of prior to this journey. He’s come to live and apprentice with Kiyoshi, an old Japanese tailor who lives in a small port town. Mending clothes is a trade Yohan had learned at the POW camp in South Korea, a skill that would support his new life abroad.

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