Chow Yun Fatt
Chinese name 周潤發 (Traditional) 周润发 (Simplified)
Pinyin Zhōu Rùnfā (Mandarin)
Born May 18, 1955 (1955-05-18) Hong Kong
Years active 1974 - present
Height - 6' 1" (1.85 m)
Chow was born in Hong Kong, to a mother who was a cleaning lady and vegetable farmer, and a father who worked at a Shell Oil Company tanker.Of Hakka origins, he grew up in a farming community on Lamma Island in a house with no electricity.He woke up at dawn each morning to help his mother sell herbal jelly and Hakka tea-pudding on the streets and in the afternoons he went to work in the fields. His family moved to Kowloon when he was ten. At seventeen, he quit school to help support the family by doing odd jobs - bellboy, postman, camera salesman, taxi driver. His life started to change when he responded to a newspaper advertisement and his actor-trainee application was accepted by TVB, the local television station. He signed a three-year contract with the studio and made his acting debut. With his striking good looks and easy-going style, Chow became a heartthrob and a familiar face in soap operas that were exported internationally.
It did not take long for Chow to become a household name in Hong Kong following his role in the hit series The Bund in 1980. The Bund, about the rise and fall of a gangster in 1930s Shanghai, made him a star. It was one of the most popular TV series ever made in Hong Kong and was a hit throughout Asia.
Although Chow continued his TV success, his goal was to become a big screen actor. His occasional ventures onto the big screens with low-budget films, however, were disastrous. Success finally came when he teamed up with director John Woo in the 1986 gangster action-melodrama A Better Tomorrow, which swept the box offices in Asia and established Chow and Woo as megastars. A Better Tomorrow won him his first Best Actor award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It was the highest grossing film in Hong Kong history at the time, and it set the standard for Hong Kong gangster films to come. Taking the opportunity, Chow quit TV entirely. With his new image from A Better Tomorrow, he made many more 'gun fu' or 'heroic bloodshed' films, such as A Better Tomorrow 2 (1987), Prison on Fire, Prison on Fire II, The Killer (1989), A Better Tomorrow 3 (1990), Hard Boiled (1992) and City on Fire an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.
Chow may be best known for playing honorable tough guys, whether cops or criminals, but he also starred in comedies like Diary of a Big Man (1988) and Now You See Love, Now You Don't (1992) and romantic blockbusters such as Love in a Fallen City (1984) and An Autumn's Tale (1987), for which he was named best actor at the Golden Horse Awards. He brought together his disparate personae in the 1989 film God of Gamblers (Du Shen), directed by the prolific Wong Jing, in which he was by turns suave charmer, broad comedian and action hero. The film surprised many, became immensely popular, broke Hong Kong's all-time box office record, and spawned a series of gambling films, as well as several comic sequels starring Andy Lau and Stephen Chow.
The Los Angeles Times proclaimed Chow Yun-Fat "the coolest actor in the world."