Award-winning actor Chow Yun-fat, who’s known for his roles in films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and most recently The Monkey King, is more than just a handsome face.
Despite the Hong Kong celebrity’s phenomenal wealth, he “sees himself as an average man,” takes public transport, doesn’t buy or wear luxury brands, shops and even bargains at food markets, dresses in “clothes purchased years ago,” and carries an old cellphone.
Perhaps his frugality is thanks to his mother, a vegetable farmer, who instilled in Chow the values of being generous, humble, and thrifty.
When asked if he’s ever recognized when commuting, he said: “Ninety percent of the people on the subway would be staring down at their phones,” he told Oriental Daily. “Who would even notice me? It’s like stepping into an abandoned land!”
And he’d never get a personal driver: “If I hire a driver, I would feel bad because he would have to wait for me all day long. I would be anxious because I know that someone is waiting for me. It would be very frustrating!”
Although the Chinese Communist Party blacklisted him from working on film productions in mainland China—due to his support for a democratic Hong Kong—Chow is still in Hong Kong’s good books.
Speaking of which, Chow, as an exemplary figure with good morals, is the first ever celebrity to be featured in Hong Kong’s textbooks, alongside the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat Sen, and China’s most celebrated military general, Yue Fei, of the Southern Song Dynasty.
One such example is when Chow was found by a fan clearing debris, and picking up branches and twigs on Waterloo Road in Kowloon, following the severe Typhoon Hato, which lashed Hong Kong in 2017.
“There were these fallen trees blocking the road. I got out of the car and picked them up so that people could use the roads again,” he told Apple Daily.
Following a fake news report in 2017 saying that the Hong Kong megastar succumbed to illness, to which his Singaporean wife promptly quashed rumors of, Chow says in the case of his actual death he’d donate $1 billion HKD ($164 million USD) of his wealth to charity.
Chow is still very much alive and kicking, and enjoyed a very happy 63rd birthday on May 18 this year. Currently, he’s working on an upcoming action film, Project Gutenberg.
The acclaimed actor says that the money he earned is from the people, so it’d only make sense to give it back to the people.
“I feel that the money does not really belong to me,” he said. “I am just in charge of keeping it temporarily! I will definitely donate it all! I will give it to charities that need it the most.”
To Chow, what’s most difficult in life is not earning money, but “maintaining a peaceful heart.”
Indeed, people are born into this world with nothing, and despite however much wealth one may own, we leave empty-handed. What a person can leave to the world, however, is the charitable heart, one that genuinely yearns for others’ wellbeing. That’s something that lives on forever. It’s no wonder the renowned Chow Yun-fat is such a favorite among Hong Kongers.
Keanu Reeves is a great actor, but it’s his exceptional character that’s got people talking