Home   >   Movie Stars   >   W   >   Wayne Wang

Wayne Wang

Wayne Wang has spent a rich career alternating between major high profile Hollywood studio fare such as The Joy Luck Club and Maid In Manhattan, and personal independent works typified by Smoke. Wang was born in Hong Kong after his family fled from China following the Communist takeover in 1947. He graduated from Wah Yan Jesuit High School and came to the United States at the age of 18 to study film at California College of the Arts And Crafts in Oakland. Wang's first feature film was his graduate student project, A Man, A Woman, A Killer, co-directed with Rick Schmidt. He returned to Hong Kong with a Masters degree and went to work at the public broadcasting outlet R.T.H. (Radio and Television Hong Kong), which had become a launching pad for young film school trained directors known as the Hong Kong New Wave. While there, he directed several episodes of the landmark realistic drama series Below the Lion Rock, about the daily lives of ordinary Hong Kong citizens. Returning to the U.S., he moved to San Francisco and worked for a time with new immigrants from Asia. The experience inspired his second feature film, the critically acclaimed Chan Is Missing, in which he used a thriller plot as a vehicle to explore social conflicts and political divisions in Chinatown. Made in 16mm black and white for only $27,000, Chan Is Missing was a decade ahead of the recent wave of micro-budget successes such as El Mariachi and Clerks. Wang's third feature, Dim Sum: A Little Bit Of Heart, had its world premiere in the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and received a British Academy Award nomination as Best Foreign Film. He next directed the thriller Slamdance, starring Tom Hulce, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Virginia Madsen. New York's Chinatown was the setting and the subject of his subsequent Eat a Bowl of Tea, a period drama set in the 1940s and starring Wang's wife Cora Miao and Russell Wong. This was followed by Life Is Cheap...But Toilet Paper Is Expensive, a gangster comedy filmed in Hong Kong. Wang's first major studio film was The Joy Luck Club, an extremely popular picture based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. He next directed Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and Forrest Whitaker in Smoke, from novelist Paul Auster's original screenplay. The picture won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for France's Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film. It was an enormous box-office success in Europe and Asia. Wang and Auster subsequently co-directed Blue in the Face, a second story employing many of the same actors and settings as Smoke. More recently, Wang directed Chinese Box, a romance set in Hong Kong starring Jeremy Irons and Gong Li; Anywhere But Here, starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman; and The Center Of The World, a digitally shot independent film starring Molly Parker and Peter Sarsgaard.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Wayne Wang Facts

BirthdayJanuary 12, 1949 (73)
BirthplaceHong Kong

Selected Filmography

Maid In Manhattan
Because Of Winn-Dixie
The Joy Luck Club
The Last Holiday
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
The Center of the World
Blue In The Face
Anywhere But Here
Continue » Find more details on the Wayne Wang Movies page