A star of over 100 films and one of Asia’s most popular singers, Andy Lau Tak-Wah was born on September 27, 1961 in Hong Kong. He grew up in a very poor area where there was not even running water — the young Tak-Wah had to make up to eight trips a day to collect water for his family. Despite financial problems, Andy’s parents encouraged him to do well in school, and upon graduating, he entered the TVB academy, where he studied acting and martial arts. After appearing on television for a couple of years, Lau moved onto films with 1982’s Boat People.

As was the norm for many young stars at this time, there was an attempt to diversify Lau by having him record an album. While these types of albums usually provide some extra publicity and money for the actor, for Lau they became a second career. Though it took quite a while — his first album (I Only Know I Love You) came out in 1985 to a minor buzz. It was not until 1990, when Lau had established himself as one of Hong Kong’s top actors and TVB came up with the “Sky Kings of Cantopop” gimmick that he became a bonafide pop star as well.

Lau’s musical career intertwined with his acting, as he began to record songs for the movies he appeared in. Despite his success, Lau’s career almost suffered a fatal flaw early on when he refused to sign a contract with TVB. Lau was blacklisted from Hong Kong television, and it was only through the intervention of Chow Yun-Fat (who was a friend of the director of Boat People, Ann Hui) that Lau began to find more work in movies.

Though having never really gained the respect of local critics or many Western fans, Lau’s list of film credits is pretty impressive. Unlike many “idols,” Lau has never really seemed to be pigeonholed into a certain role. While he is probably best known for romantic comedies like 2001’s Love on a Diet, Lau’s career has included everything from action to comedy (1991’s Tricky Brains) to art-house fare. Lau has also become a mainstay of the modern gambling movie, appearing in many of the most popular films of the type, including 1989’s Casino Raiders, which re-launched the genre.

Despite having a reputation of being hard to work with (one story has Lau refusing to smile because he thought it might make wrinkles show), Lau continues to be one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and bankable actors. In fact, there were times when Lau was so popular that he was working on multiple films as well as recording songs all at once, sleeping in his car as time allowed. This dedication to work seems to have finally paid off in one respect; in 2000 Lau won the Hong Kong Film Award for his work in Running Out of Time.

In perhaps a bit of irony (especially considering how gossip-hungry the Hong Kong press is), little is known about Andy Lau the man versus Andy Lau the star. He is known as a die-hard collector, with jeans, watches, and Ultraman memoribila being his main passions. Much to the chagrin of the press and fans, Andy has kept mum about his love life (he has been romantically linked to almost all of his female co-stars) but has said that he is interested in marriage.

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