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Donnie Yen Reveals He Only Had $12 to His Name When He was Directing Films

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    Donnie Yen, star of the “Ip Man” franchise and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” is one of the many multi-million dollar actors to come from Hong Kong, but it has not always been easy.

    Speaking to Taiwan GQ, the 56-year-old actor only had 100 Hong Kong dollars ($12) under his name while he was a struggling film director and had to rely on his production team for food, according to South China Morning Post.


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    When we are making films we are usually in remote areas, small villages, country side with not much around, non stop filming in any weather, poor surroundings/conditions and it’s hard to cater from 100-1000+ people. So normally for convenience, film productions option for take out meals which are normally in styrofoam or plastic packaging. Can you imagine how many lunch boxes we consume daily, for a period of 4-5 months? With our crew eating breakfast, lunch and/or dinner? Even when some productions offer catering they still use plastic plates, bowls etc. I’m so proud to share that for @ipman4movie , my wife, @sweetcil who is very passionate about living a greener life, and doesn’t easily give up, was able to convince production to change to catering service with using metal trays. Thanks to @wongec1102 and LumLum, our line producer to agreeing for a greener environment for our film! Hope we can continue to make small steps for big changes. #startsmallstartnow #宇宙最強甄子丹 #宇宙最強 #甄子丹 #donnieyen #ipman4 #ipman #葉問 #葉問4 #environmentallyconscious #filming #behindthescenes @superbulletpictures @bulletfilmsofficial

    A post shared by Donnie Yen 甄子丹 (@donnieyenofficial) on

    Yen made his directorial debut in the 1997 film “Legend of the Wolf” when he found himself in massive debt and had to borrow some money. Things got worse when he almost went bankrupt.

    “However, I can’t elaborate because it was such a long time ago, I don’t feel it any more. Now I just look back at my past with a smile,” he said.

    But through perseverance and hard work, Yen was able to turn his life around. He became an overnight superstar when his 2008 movie “Ip Man” became a huge success.

    “As I grow older, my perspective of life changes, and I’ve become a more understanding person. I’m not saying that I totally don’t have a temper – everyone has emotions,” the action superstar said. “Without emotions, you can’t be an actor. Acting and artists are the same, you must have emotions in order to portray your character realistically. The key is learning to balance those emotions.”


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    The world needs love not war. 廣告都教小朋友,遇到危險要即刻話唔好,仲要大聲嗌救命… 但係佢地喺戰場呼喊嘅聲音又有冇人聽到? 她是拉瑪,只是一個5歲的小孩子,卻被戰火牽連而導致額頭受傷,她很想向戰爭說「唔好」… 很多像拉瑪生於戰區的小朋友,更患有嚴重營養不良和其他疾病,急需醫療物資和治療,卻因為生於戰區,生於一個連醫院和學校都會被轟炸的國度,生於一個連人道救援都會被拒諸門外的地方… 你願意和孩子們一起,向戰爭說「唔好」嗎?請留一個🤚🏻🔥 給兒童們說「唔好」,讓世界聽到他們大聲嗌救命的聲音。 停戰,童希望 #savethechildrenhk #savethechildren #100thAnniversary #OnceInALifetime #stopthewaronchildren @savethechildrenhk #香港救助兒童會 #停戰童希望 #唔好

    A post shared by Donnie Yen 甄子丹 (@donnieyenofficial) on

    This isn’t the first time Yen has opened up about the struggles he faced early on in his career.

    Yen appeared at the “A Date with Luyu” talk show last month where he told Lu Yu that he only earned 600 Hong Kong dollars ($76) a month when he first started working for TVB during the 1980s.

    “Although the company rented a flat for us and I shared it with my colleagues, I didn’t have much money and I had most of my meals at the film set because it was free,” he said.

    Yen is set to appear in the Disney live-action adaptation of “Mulan” in March 2020.

    Featured Image via Instagram / donnieyenofficial (Left, Right)

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