"He promenaded this otherness. It made him a star but obscured his talent. It is a gift to be beautiful; it is an art to know how to lend that beauty to a film character. An actor of commanding subtlety, Leslie rarely overstated an emotion because he knew what the camera saw: he knew the camera loved him."
Leslie Cheung (張國榮) was named Asia's biggest male superstar in 2000 and ranked first as 'The most favorite actor in 100 years of Chinese cinema' in 2005. In 2010, he was voted third of CNN's top five most iconic musicians of all time, only placing behind Michael Jackson
and The Beatles
Born in 1954, he entered the Hong Kong
entertainment industry in 1977 and struggled through many hardships as a beginning singer/actor. It wasn't until 1984 that his popularity skyrocketed thanks to his hit song "Monica". Since then, Leslie became an instant teen heartthrob and the biggest pop idol of Hong Kong in the 1980s.
In 1989, at the height of his career and popularity, Leslie announced that he was retiring from the music industry and kicked off his Farewell Concert Tour ) which ran for 33 consecutive nights (he was 33 at the time) at Hong Kong Coliseum (the very last show held on January 22, 1990) In 1990, he left Hong Kong and emigrated to Vancouver
Besides his music career, Cheung was also a very talented actor. And although Cheung quit his career as a pop singer from 1989 to 1995, he continued his acting and music career as a composer. He composed more than ten songs during that time. In 1993, he won Best Original Movie Song Award from Golden Horse Film Festival for the theme song "Red Cheek, White Hair" to the movie The Bride With White Hair
Leslie Cheung has acted in several Wong Kar Wai
films such as Happy Together
and Days of Being Wild
which won him the Best Actor Award at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1991 and his first nomination of Best Actor at the Golden Horse Film Festival (Taiwan).
In 1992 Leslie's performance in the historical masterpiece Farewell My Concubine
won him critical acclamation and international fame as a film star and set his steps in the mainland China film industry. Cheung acted as the Peking opera star Dieyi Cheng, a Beijing opera artist who reaches fame with his exquisite performances of female roles. Farewell My Concubine
is the first Chinese film to have won the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1995 Leslie returned to the music industry and he released his first post-"retirement" album, Beloved which achieved large market success with the award of IFPI Best Selling Album.
Because of his international popularity both as an actor and singer, Leslie Cheung is also responsible for making Cantonese music popular through other parts of East Asia. Such as Korea; he is the first Chinese artist who dominated the music charts in Korea at the time of A Better Tomorrow
and set a record of foreign artists of holding 16 concerts in Japan that has yet to be broken.
On 1 April 2003 (April Fools' Day
) Leslie played a last and most cruel joke which shocked the world. He leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island. He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.
- Erotic Dreams of the Red Chamber (1978)
- Teenage Dreamers (1982)
- Energetic 21 (1982)
- Nomad (1982)
- The Drummer (1983)
- First Time (1983)
- Little Dragon Maiden (1983)
- Behind the Yellow Line (1984)
- Merry Christmas (1984)[cameo]
- The Intellectual Trio (1985)
- Crazy Romance (1985)
- For Your Heart Only (1985)
- Last Song in Paris (1986)
- A Better Tomorrow (1986)
- A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
- A Better Tomorrow II (1987)
- Rouge (1988)
- Fatal Love (1988)
- Aces Go Places 5 (1989)
- A Chinese Ghost Story 2 (1990)
- Days of Being Wild (1990)
- The Banquet (1991)[cameo]
- Once a Thief (1991)
- All’s Well Ends Well (1992)
- Arrest the Restless (1992)
- The Bride With White Hair (1993)
- The Bride with White Hair 2 (1993)
- All's Well Ends Well, Too (1993)
- The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)
- Farewell My Concubine (1993)
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1994)
- He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (1994)
- Long and Winding Road (1994)
- Over the Rainbow Under the Skirt (1994)[cameo]
- Ashes of Time (1994)
- The Chinese Feast (1995)
- The Phantom Lover (1995)
- Tri-Star (1996)
- Temptress Moon (1996)
- Shanghai Grand (1996)
- Who’s the Woman, Who’s the Man (1996)
- Viva Erotica! (1996)
- All’s Well, End’s Well ‘97 (1997) [cameo]
- Happy Together (1997)
- Ninth Happiness (1998)
- Anna Magdalena (1998) [cameo]
- Moonlight Express (1999)
- A Time to Remember (1999)
- The Kid (1999)
- Double Tap (2000)
- Okinawa Rendezvous (2000)
- Inner Senses (2002)
Tropes associated with Leslie Cheung:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: His character in Days of Being Wild (and many other roles he's portrayed), earned him the nickname 'The James Dean of Hong Kong'
- Shirtless Scene: In many of his movies including Moonlight Express and Happy Together.
- Bi the Way: Reason why even after his coming out he still got offered the 'straightest' roles and paired up with the hottest female co-stars.