Actor, Director, Writer
An eclectic writer-director who has endured a turbulent showbiz career, Lee moved from his native Taiwan to the U.S. and studied filmmaking at NYU. After years of watching potential projects fall through, he won both first and second prizes in a Taiwanese screenwriting competition. Those scripts became his first two movies, 1992's Pushing Hands and 1993's international indie hit The Wedding Banquet. The next year, Lee broke through to the mainstream with the familial comedy Eat Drink Man Woman, which was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar. Lee's subsequent projects were strikingly diverse. Although he had proven himself a masterful writer, he based several films on preexisting material, including adaptations of Jane Austen's 19th-century romance Sense and Sensibility and Rick Moody's examination of changing middle-class values The Ice Storm. Lee returned to his roots in 2000 for the fantastical Chinese martial-arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won a slew of Oscars and earned him a nod. But the underwhelming critical and commercial reaction to his next film, Hulk, depressed Lee so much that he considered quitting the business. Luckily, he persevered and went on to direct the groundbreaking gay-cowboy flick Brokeback Mountain.
- Failed his national university entrance exams in Taiwan.
- Served as assistant director on Spike Lee's NYU student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barber Shop: We Cut Heads.
- His 1993 movie The Wedding Banquet became the first production from Taiwan to earn a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.