More Wayne Wang Bios & Profiles
Biography #2 (for Maid in Manhattan)Wayne Wang has spent a career alternating between major Hollywood studio films such as The Joy Luck Club and smaller, independent works like Smoke. He most recently directed The Center of the World, with Molly Parker and Peter Sarsgaard, a digitally shot independent film.
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 who became known as the Hong Kong New Wave. While there, Wang directed several episodes of the landmark realistic drama series Below the Lion Rock, about the daily lives of ordinary Hong Kong citizens.
He returned to the U.S. and moved to San Francisco, where he worked for a time with new immigrants from Asia. The experience inspired Wang's 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 & white for just $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 Wang's 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 studio film was The Joy Luck Club, based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. Smoke was based on novelist Paul Auster's original screenplay, and starred Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and Forrest Whitaker. The film 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 also 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, and Anywhere But Here starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman.
Bio courtesy Columbia Pictures for "Maid in Manhattan" (22-Dec-2002)