Born: Nov. 02, 1964
Died:May 25, 2020
Birthplace: Taipei City, Taiwan
Did You Know...?
"Almost all the time, from the very first scene that he appeared on stage, the actor's aura and temperament would make the audience impossible to look away. His greatest disadvantage remains that he is not as handsome as Al Pacino; then again, would anyone argue that he is not the Taiwanese Al Pacino?" This is the comment about Wu Pong-fong by director Lou Yi-an, a member of the panel of judges for the Golden Bell Awards—Taiwan's equivalent of the Emmy Awards.
Wu Pong-fong's father moved to Taiwan from Zhao'an in Fujian Province, China, in 1950. He got married and had a son. When Wu was eight, his parents divorced. Living with his father, Wu grew up in Sanchong, suburban Taipei. He took up a job in a printing shop at young age. He got into trouble with management for his attention to labor rights. To ensure that his fellow workers were aware of their rights, Wu propagated rules related to holidays specified in the Labor Standards Act. When the boss found out what Wu had been doing, he immediately fired him.
Later on, Wu joined a theater troupe, marking the first step towards the journey to become an actor. Thanks to profound life experiences, Wu gave subtle, natural performances, and whether on stage, on silver screen, or on television, his performance to portray a character was always convincing and persuasive.
Wu started out on his path as an actor in theater, and his talents saw him receive warm receptions across theater, television, and cinema. In 2008, he won the Golden Bell Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries for his role in "The Mark of Kapok (木棉的印記)." In 2010, the film "Seven Days in Heaven (父後七日)" saw him honored with the Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Awards, the Academy Awards of the Mandarin-speaking world. The following year, the Taipei Film Festival awarded him with the Best Actor Award for his part in the film "Ranger (歸途)." In 2019, he was once again recognized at the Golden Bell Awards, receiving the award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film, for his role in "The Roar (第一響槍)."
Outside of these more traditional avenues, Wu was also involved with music videos in 2017. In the videos for the singles "Back Here Again," and "Waves Wandering" of the Taiwanese band EggPlantEgg, Wu's superlative acting was paired with superbly crafted Taiwanese-language songwriting, a combination which struck a chord with viewers on the Internet and ignited lively discussions on YouTube. The key reason he was willing to take part in making these music videos, Wu said, was that "EggPlantEgg has a deep feeling for Taiwanese language. The music is tuneful and easy to memorize, and I consider it good music."
While Wu Pong-fong was primarily known for his acting, he had a life-long love for various forms of art, including music, writing, and poetry. With great passion for music, Wu said that in his younger days, he had dreamed of becoming a singer, next to that was the aspiration of becoming a novelist or a dancer. Acting actually ranked fourth among his expectations of himself.
He once said that his 30s were really his writerly period, and it was during that time that he was writing poems in the Taiwanese language and submitting them to newspaper supplements for publication. In recent years, he had inspiration for writing poems occasionally, and would create improvisational writings now and then. Acting might have been an accidental career for him, but he considered himself lucky to have found another creative outlet for sharing his feelings about life.
Wu Pong-fong was known as a straightforward, outspoken man. On several occasions he said that "we come into the world with nothing and we leave it with nothing." He was never in it for money or fame. "You can't let yourself live on the plight, and, as long as you've got enough money to get by, that's fine." He approached life with an open mind, never setting goals for his life and just asking that he be able to indulge his enjoyment of acting, for which he had earned recognition.