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Int’l Star You Should Know: Chang Chen

'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' thesp is popular among Asia's top directors

CLAIM TO FAME
Westerners know the intense and charismatic Chang Chen for his portrayal of Dark Cloud, the brigand who captures the heart of Zhang Ziyi in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” but he’s also starred in films by Wong Kar Wai, Hou Hsiao-hsien and John Woo.

ACTING GENES
Chang comes from a family of thesps. His father, Chang Kuo-chu, and brother, Chang Han, appeared alongside him in his first role (at age 14), in director Edward Yang’s 1991 “A Brighter Summer Day.”

PAN-ASIA POPULARITY
Some of the Taiwanese actor’s best work comes from outside of the Taiwan-Hong Kong axis. He won kudos as the eponymous “Go Master” (2006) for mainland director Tian Zhuangzhuang, and played a mute prisoner on Death Row in Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk’s “Breath” (2007). “Collaborations with directors from Japan, Korea, etc., gave me many different experiences and opened my eyes,” says Chang, who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and English. “I always hope that I’ll have the opportunities to work with not only directors but also actors and crews from other countries so we can have cultural exchanges.”

CONNECTING WITH ROLES
Often cast in parts that require martial arts training, Chang says he prefers roles that are closer to real life. “Whether I can resonate with the character in the script is the key factor that makes me want to take part in the production,” he says.

RAZOR’S EDGE
Chang received an unusual gift at his recent wedding. Helmer Wong Kar Wai promised Chang he would never again cut his part in a film, as he did the role of Razor in “The Grandmaster.” Tony Leung, the “Grandmaster” lead, joked that Wong made a similar promise at his own wedding.

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