Carina Lau

Carina Lau Kar-ling (traditional Chinese: 劉嘉玲; simplified Chinese: 刘嘉玲, born 8 December 1966) is a Chinese actress and singer. She started her acting career in TVB, before going on to achieve success in films after 2nd year at the college. She was especially notable in the 1980s for her girl-next-door type roles in films.[1] She also plays Empress Wu Zetian in Tsui Hark's Detective Dee films, starting with Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame in 2010. She has won Best Actress awards at Hong Kong Film Award and Mainland China's Golden Rooster Awards, and nominated at Cannes Film Festival and Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards.

Carina Lau
Carina Lau 20180909.png
Carina Lau Kar Ling

(1966-12-08) 8 December 1966 (age 54)
Suzhou, Jiangsu, China
Alma materKiangsu-Chekiang College
  • Actress
  • Singer
Years active1983–present
Height1.66 m (5 ft 5 in)
(m. 2008)
Musical career
LabelsEMI (1994–1996)
Carina Lau Studio (present)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Her husband is Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Lau frequently appears in the Hong Kong fashion scene, and is a patron of many charities.

Early lifeEdit

Lau was born in Suzhou, China, in 1965. She moved to Hong Kong at the age of fifteen, and joined TVB's acting classes. She holds citizenship from China and Canada.[2]


Lau made her on-screen debut in The Duke of Mount Deer (1984). She skyrocketed to fame following her role as a wealthy heiress in one of Hong Kong's most-watched ever series, Looking Back in Anger (1989).[3]

Lau then expanded to films. She was nominated at the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress for her role in Her Beautiful Life Lies (1989). She received acclaim for her role in Days of Being Wild (1991), one of her many collaborations with film director Wong Kar-wai. Despite being embroiled in tabloid scandals, Lau's impressive turn as vivacious cabaret dancer in the film put the focus back onto her talent. She continued to showcase her versatility with impressive performances in martial arts epic Saviour of the Soul (1991), biopic Center Stage (1991), cross-dressing comedy He's a Woman, She's a Man (1994) and offbeat romance Gigolo and Whore (1994). Following parts in the wuxia classic Ashes of Time (1994) and James Bond pastiche Forbidden City Cop (1997), Lau once again attracted the attention of various awards juries with her measured portrayals of bisexual silk factory owner Wan in Intimates (1997) and a prostitute in 19th Century epic Flowers of Shanghai (1998).[3]

Her roles as Hon Sam's wife in the two Infernal Affairs sequels and an android in Wong Kar-wai's 2046 (2004) further increased Lau's international recognition. Lau then stepped in the shoes of Sarah Jessica Parker for the Hong Kong version of Sex and the City, named Sex and the Beauties (2004). She won rave reviews for her performances as unhappily-married Rose in the low-budget thriller Curiosity Kills the Cat (2006) and as Wu Zetian in the blockbuster Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010).[3] She received a Best Actress nomination at the Cannes Film Festival for her role as a rich housewife abandoned by her husband in Bends (2013).[4]

In 2016, she was one of the celebrities appearing on the Chinese reality show Up Idol. Since then, she has made guest appearances in other mainland reality TV shows. In June 2017, she, along with her husband, was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Other activitiesEdit

She was executive president of Hong Kong's TVMART channel, but was replaced by the board after a loss of 40 million Taiwan Dollars.[5] She told the media that because she had no education, the decisions made by her had some negative influences on the company.[5]


1990 abductionEdit

In 1990, during the filming of Days of Being Wild, Lau was abducted for several hours, and topless photos of her were taken. At the time, local papers, through Reuters news agency, reported that Lau was kidnapped, though a police report was not filed.[1][6] It was believed that the man behind the kidnapping is Albert Yeung, a successful businessman with whom Lau was having a financial dispute. Tony Leung Chiu-wai has said that Lau never wanted to talk about what happened in those missing hours with anyone, including him.[7]

Lau revealed in 2008 that she was abducted by four men working for a triad boss, as "punishment" for having refused a film offer.[2] She said that she had not been taken advantage of during her two-hour ordeal.[8]

2002 East Week magazine photo incidentEdit

Naked pictures of Carina Lau were published in the 30 October 2002 edition of East Week (magazine), years after Lau was kidnapped by triads who punished her for refusing to take part in a film they were funding.[9][10]

The nude photos revealed the actress in distress. Massive protests and petitions were held by fellow Hong Kong entertainers, and media ethics by Hong Kong tabloids and gossip magazines were questioned.[10] The magazine was shut down in November 2002, only to be resumed in late 2003.[1][11] Mong, the publisher of the photo who is 52 years old as of 2009, received a 5-month jail sentence after pleading guilty in December 2008 to publishing obscene photos. Mong now lives in Beijing.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Lau had a relationship with Hong Kong tycoon Julian Hui from 1986 to 1988. They were engaged and lived together, until in April 1988 Hui announced their split. The media described it to be a failed attempt on Lau's part to marry into a wealthy family, when Lau said publicly they split amicably and she remains friends with Hui and his family. Hui is currently married to actress Michelle Reis from 2008.

She has been in a relationship with Tony Leung Chiu-wai since 1989. The couple married on 21 July 2008 at the Uma Paro resort in Bhutan.[12] The wedding itself cost more than HK$30 million and Lau's 12-carat (2.4 g) Cartier wedding ring is worth over HK$10 million. Guests included singer Faye Wong who performed for them on their special day. Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai also directed the ceremony.[13] The wedding created a media frenzy in Hong Kong, with companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue the wedding party.[14]

There have long been rumours that Tony Leung and actress Maggie Cheung were romantically involved, which is a hot topic among media outlets in Greater China due to the three's celebrity. Leung and Cheung starred in the film In the Mood for Love together in 1999. The rumoured Lau-Cheung feud was put to an end in 2013 when Lau uploaded a photo of them together to social media.[15] Regarding the love triangle, Lau said in September 2016, during an interview on The Jin Xing Show that "she knows about the affair as much as the public does", and that "if he really likes Maggie Cheung, I'd be happy too. It's his decision."



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Naughty Boys Bonnie
1987 Project A Part II Carina
Rich and Famous Lau Po-yee
Tragic Hero Lau Po-yee
1988 The Romancing Star II Fong Fong
Profile of Pleasure Miss Chu
City Warriors Mak Ying-yang
Heart to Hearts
1989 Return of the Lucky Stars Banana Tso
China White Yin-hung
Four Loves Siu-guen
Her Beautiful Life Lies Carole Chang
1990 She Shoots Straight Huang Cha-ling
Queen's Bench III Ms. Chen
1991 The Banquet Woman at dinner
Days of Being Wild Mimi/Lulu
Saviour of the Soul Madam of Pets
My American Grandson
Center Stage Li Lili
1992 The Night Rider Laura
Girls Without Tomorrow 1992 Wa
Love: Now You See It... Now You Don't Susan Chong
1993 Lord of East China Sea Ms. Liu
Lord of East China Sea 2 Ms. Liu
Shadow Cop Witty
Crazy Hong Kong Shirley
Rose Rose I Love You Pearl Chan/White Rose
Lover of the Swindler Ling
Lady Super Cop Wenine Chang Mi-hua
No More Love, No More Death Ching-ching
The Eagle Shooting Heroes Zhou Botong
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father Laura Watt
C'est la vie, mon chéri Tracy
1994 He's a Woman, She's a Man Rose
Ashes of Time Peach Blossom
Deadful Melody Tan Yuehua
Gigolo and Whore Chung Siu-hung
1996 Who's the Woman, Who's the Man Rose
Forbidden City Cop Kar-ling
1997 Intimates Wan
1998 Love Generation Hong Kong Maggie
Flowers of Shanghai Pearl
2001 La Brassiere Samantha
Cop Shop Babes Mona Lui
2002 Mighty Baby Samantha
2003 Infernal Affairs II Mary
Infernal Affairs III Mary
2004 2046 Mimi/Lulu, 2046 android
Itchy Heart Bing
Sex and the Beauties Selina
2006 Curiosity Kills the Cat Rose Feng
2010 Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Wu Zetian
Let the Bullets Fly
2011 All's Well, Ends Well 2011 Mona Tai
2013 Bends Anna
Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon Wu Zetian
2014 Beijing Love Story Jia Ling
2015 From Vegas to Macau II Molly
Cairo Declaration Soong Mei-ling
2016 From Vegas to Macau III Molly
2018 Asura
A Beautiful Moment
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings Wu Zetian
In Your Dreams
2019 A City Called Macau
The Great Detective
Warriors of Future
2021 Dynasty Warriors Master of the Sword Forge Castle

Television seriesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1983 Legend of the Condor Heroes
1984 The Duke of Mount Deer Fong Yee
Police Cadet Cheung Ka-man
Pau Ching Tin The Law Enforcer Bao Ling
The Clones Zhong Jieyi
Hero Without Tears II Die Wu
1985 The Young Wanderer
Police Cadet '85 Cheung Ka-man
To Each Its Own Gu Ruishan
The Yang's Saga Princess Chai
Take Care, Your Highness! Suen Fuk-yu
The Middle Aged Fancy
Tough Fight
1986 The Feud of Two Brothers
Du Xinwu
The Turbulent Decade
1988 Naked Ambition
Lemon Husband
Police Cadet 1988 Cheung Ka-man
1989 Shanghai Storm
Looking Back in Anger Sandy Ngai Chor Gwun
Fate in Our Hands
1990 When the Sun Shines Cameo Episode 94
1996 Once Upon an Ordinary Girl
Hua Zhi
2000 Showbiz Tycoon Lui Mung-wah
2001 My Love, Rose
2005 The Spring River Flows East
2018 The Destiny of White Snake Queen Mother of the West
2019 Eighteen Springs Gu Manlu



Year Album Notes
1994 My Real Love (真情流露) with Tony Leung
1995 Believe in Love (相信愛情)
1996 Cooling Love (情冷卻)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Nominated work Category Result
1990 Hong Kong Film Award Her Beautiful Life Lies Best Actress Nominated
1990 Hong Kong Film Award Days of Being Wild Best Actress Nominated
1991 Nominated
Golden Horse Awards Nominated
Three Continents Festival Won
1995 Hong Kong Film Award Gigolo and Whore Nominated
1998 Intimates Nominated
Golden Bauhinia Awards Won
2004 Hong Kong Film Award Infernal Affairs II Nominated
2006 Golden Horse Awards Curiosity Kills the Cat Nominated
2007 Golden Rooster Awards Won
2011 Hong Kong Film Award Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Won
Golden Horse Awards Let the Bullets Fly Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2012 Asian Film Award Nominated
Asian Film Critics Association Awards Nominated
Hong Kong Film Award Nominated
2013 Cannes Film Festival Bends Best Actress Nominated
2014 Osaka Asian Film Festival Award Won
Hong Kong Film Award Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon
Best Supporting Actress


  1. ^ a b c "Media shakeup after topless shots", Cable News Network. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  2. ^ a b Clara Mak (19 July 2008). "Lau tells of kidnap". South China Morning Post.
  3. ^ a b c "Carina Lau". Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Actress Carina Lau on the gamble that took her to Cannes". South China Morning Post. 8 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Carina Lau to be short-lived CEO". China Daily. 9 August 2005. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  6. ^ "HK celebrities protest secret filming of pop star". Channel NewsAsia. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  7. ^ Karen Durbin (7 August 2005). "Still in the Mood for a Collaboration". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Triads made me pose in the nude: HK star Carina Lau". The Straits Times. 13 July 2008. Archived from the original on 14 July 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Editor jailed for publishing obscene photo of kidnapped actress", South China Morning Post. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Journalism requires ethics: expert", Taipei Times. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  11. ^ "Hong Kong police arrest suspect in connection with racy star photos case. Associated Press", Sina Corp. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  12. ^ Vivienne Chow (22 July 2008). "After 20 years, stars wed in royal style". South China Morning Post. p. C1.
  13. ^ "Royal treatment for bridal couple". The Straits Times. 22 July 2008. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "Actors' wedding leads to Hong Kong media frenzy". International Herald Tribune. 20 July 2008.
  15. ^ "高招 劉嘉玲 拉張曼玉逆襲 世紀合照 破13年僵局". Apple Daily (in Chinese). 25 November 2013.
  16. ^ Carina Lau at
  17. ^ Carina Lau at

External linksEdit