Athletic actor Eddie Peng has the brains, the brawn and the clean-cut looks to become one of the Chinese film industry’s biggest name exports. Zhang Yimou’s English-language debut, “The Great Wall,” out next year, will put the thesp on cinema screens worldwide opposite Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau.
Born in Taipei, Peng spent his teenage years in Vancouver and interrupted his economics degree studies to return to his native Taiwan where he took up a role in TV series “Tomorrow.” His timing was perfect. Taiwanese cinema was going through a renaissance and Peng soon starred as a romantic lead in “My DNA Says I Love You,” which he followed with 2011 breakout as a gymnast in “Jump Ashin!”
After that the Greater China industry opened up to him. Peng scored again in Hong Kong police thriller “Cold War” and then hit the big time in Chinese-Korean remake “A Wedding Invitation,” opposite similarly fast-rising Bai Baihe.
He’s played a string of roles in which his athletic prowess — and abs — have been featured: Peng played a boxer in acclaimed “Unbeatable,” a kung fu ace in “Rise of the Legend” and a cyclist in Hong Kong’s Oscar hopeful “To the Fore.” He punctuated that sporty run only for another mainland Chinese romantic hit, “Back in Time.”
With the opportunities for bilingual Asian stars only getting better — think Ken Jeong and Daniel Wu — Peng can expect U.S. scouts to come calling.