Chow Yun-Fat, the Asian movie star best known in the U.S. for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hard Boiled, is standing firm against a possible career backlash for lending support to the pro-democracy demonstrators in his native Hong Kong. Since September, students and others who make up Occupy Central With Love and Peace have gathered outside Chinese government headquarters and demanded electoral reform, and there have been repeated clashes with police.
Several other Hong Kong celebrities cautiously supported the protests, but according to reports, Chinese state-run media are trying to tamp down such public statements by threatening boycotts of artists’ film or music. Asian celebrities are being pressured to choose sides, but Chow hasn’t been easily cowed. In a response to the threat of being blacklisted, he told Hong Kong’s Next magazine that “I’ll just make less [movies] then,” according to The New York Times.
On Monday, the Chinese Digital Times, a U.S.-based site that reports China’s censorship commands, claimed that Beijing was cracking down and ordering websites to delete mentions of Chow’s remarks.
Earlier this month, Chow gave an interview to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, where he said, “I’ve met the residents, the students—they are very brave and it’s touching to see that they’re fighting for what they want. The students are reasonable. If the government can come up with a solution that the citizens or students are satisfied with, I believe the crisis will end.”
He added, “When the government uses violent measures on students, it’s a turn-off for the people of Hong Kong. I don’t wish to see anyone getting hurt… it was a peaceful demonstration and there was no need for any violence or tear gas.”
Chow is current making The Man From Macau 2, a sequel to one of China’s biggest 2014 movies, directed by Wong Jing (Red Dragon). Jing has also been monitoring events in Hong Kong, but he’s come down decisively on the side of the Chinese government and chastised other celebrities—though not specifically Chow—for defending the Occupy movement. “I absolutely don’t agree [with your political views],” he wrote on the social-networking site, Weibo. “To avoid embarrassment, your contact details will be erased from my phone and computer. Have a happy life.”
Chow’s publicist did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. His agent, Ivan Tan, speaking to The New York Times, did not deny making the most recent comment but said, “There is no comment at the moment.”