John Lone

Actor, Director, Singer
A strikingly handsome, lithe and somewhat androgynous Hong Kong-born actor of film and stage, John Lone became established on stage initially via several collaborations with playwright David Henry Hwang. On film, he is ... Read more »
Born: 10/12/1952 in Hong Kong


Actor (18)

War 2007 (Movie)

Chang (Actor)

Rush Hour 2 2001 (Movie)

Ricky Tan (Actor)

Nguol Thua 1998 (Movie)


Task Force 1996 (Movie)

(cameo appearance) (Actor)

The Hunted 1995 (Movie)

Kinjo (Actor)

The Five Chinese Brothers 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)


The Shadow 1994 (Movie)

Shiwan Kahn (Actor)

M. Butterfly 1993 (Movie)

Song Liling (Actor)

Shadow of China 1991 (Movie)

Henry Wong/Wu Chang (Actor)

Shanghai 1920 1990 (Movie)


Echoes of Paradise 1989 (Movie)

Raka (Actor)

The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)


The Moderns 1988 (Movie)

Bertram Stone (Actor)

Last Emperor 1987 (Movie)

Pu Yi (Actor)

Year of the Dragon 1985 (Movie)

Joey Tai (Actor)

Iceman 1984 (Movie)

Charlie--The Neanderthal (Actor)

King Kong 1976 (Movie)

Chinese Cook (Actor)


A strikingly handsome, lithe and somewhat androgynous Hong Kong-born actor of film and stage, John Lone became established on stage initially via several collaborations with playwright David Henry Hwang. On film, he is probably best recalled for his portrayal of Emperor Pu Yi in Bernardo Bertolucci's lavish, Oscar-winning epic "The Last Emperor" (1987). Orphaned as a young boy, Lone began rigorously training as an actor at the Chin Ciu Academy of the Peking Opera in Hong Kong at age 10. He resided at the school for eight years, undergoing all day training in acting, singing, dance, mime, poetry, weaponry, acrobatics, and martial arts.

At age 18, Lone moved to America and settled in Los Angeles where he quickly snared small roles on film and TV, as well as joined the East-West Players. After earning attention for his performance in David Henry Hwang's "F.O.B." in L.A., he headed to NYC to recreate the role Off-Broadway in 1981, netting an OBIE Award. The playwright then wrote "Dance and the Railroad" specifically for Lone who starred in, directed, choreographed and scored the production at the Public Theatre.

The movies soon beckoned and Lone made an impact with an impressive nonverbal performance as a defrosted caveman in "Iceman" (1984), following up with "Year of the Dragon" (1985), playing a ruthless Chinese Mafia boss. Here, without mounds of obscuring makeup, he displayed his glamorous movie-star looks to the American public for the first time.

Lone has not had a prolific feature career, apparently by choice. He shifts back-and-forth from stage to screen, directing to acting. He has a successful pop singing career in Asia as well as and his own lines of cosmetics and apparel. The actor has made quirky film choices opting for roles in foreign and small independent films (e.g., Alan Rudolph's "The Moderns" 1988) rather than standard commercial Hollywood fare. Lone continued in this vein with David Cronenberg's film version of Hwang's "M. Butterfly" (1993), where he played the Asian object of desire of a French diplomat (Jeremy Irons). Subsequent high profile feature roles have cast the handsome player as nefarious types. In 1994's "The Shadow", Lone was the descendent of Genghis Khan battling Alec Baldwin's Lamont Cranston, while "The Hunted" (1995) saw him portray a cold-blooded assassin. After a long absence, Lone graced US audiences with his charismatic presence playing yet another suave ganglord in "Rush Hour 2" (2001).


American Academy of Dramatic Arts

Pasadena , California

Chin Ciu Academy of the Peking Opera

lived on premises; trained from dawn to dusk until age 18; studied poetry, acting, dance, mime, singing, acrobatics, and martial arts



Again portrayed a Chinese ganglord in "Rush Hour 2"


Released first recording in Asia


Last Hollywood film for six years, "The Hunted"; cast as a vicious assassin


Portrayed the villainous Shiwan Khan in "The Shadow"


Cast as a member of the Peking Opera who passes as a woman in the film version of Hwang's acclaimed stage play "M. Butterfly"


Acted in "Shadow of China"


Gave a wonderful performance as a mysterious businessman in "The Moderns"


Had title role in the Oscar-winning "The Last Emperor"


First feature lead, Michael Cimino's "Year of the Dragon"


TV directing debut, "Paper Angels", an "American Playhouse" presentation for PBS


First significant film role, the titular character in "Iceman"


Appeared in NYC in the stage play "Sound and Beauty"; also directed


Starred, directed, choreographed, and scored "Dance and the Railroad" at the Public Theater; a play written for Lone by David Henry Hwang


Moved to NYC to reprise role in "F.O.B." at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre


Garnered attention with his stage role in the L.A. production of David Henry Hwang's play "F.O.B."


TV acting debut in "Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid" (ABC)


First film appearance as a Chinese cook in "King Kong"

Attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California

Began training as an actor at the age of 10 at the Chin Chiu Academy of the Peking Opera

Orphaned as a small child; never knew his parents

Moved to USA at age 18

Lived at the Academy and studied poetry, acting, dance, mime, singing, acrobatics, and martial arts until age 18

Settled in Los Angeles; did several guest spots on TV

Returned to the Public Theater to direct and star in two new one-act plays by Hwang under the title "Sound and Beauty"

Joined the East-West Players theater troupe

Bonus Trivia


"Lone himself is almost as mysterious. He won't tell his age and denies reports that make him about 40. He won't say how or where he lives in New York. He's not sure whether he is Asian or Eurasian. [He was orphaned in Hong Kong.] He has played Asians (in "Year of the Dragon" and "The Last Emperor") and non-Asians [in 'The Moderns' and 'Iceman']. 'I never call myself a Chinese actor' says Lone. 'I'm an artist and an actor, and I don't even look typical Chinese. I don't want to stand behind someone and look important and inscrutable. I DON'T do Fu Manchu.'" --From "Buzz on Lone" by Nick Ravo in Movieline, October 1993.


John Lone talks to Sheila Benson about his childhood Peking Opera training in Interview, September 1993.:"I get up at six-thirty. Go to the toilet. Nothing else--no water, nothing ... Like little dogs we go to our sweat spots, permanent dark moons on the floor, made from our essence. We put our feet against the wall, upside down, supported by our hands for a half hour. At seven-thirty, up to the roof and start screaming against stone walls to open the voice out, because we have no microphone and play a one-thousand-seat theater. At eight, come down, drink hot water with salt to soothe the throat. Then acrobatic training for two hours, then weaponry ... Noontime comes. Lunch. We practice all day. Evening, more rehearsal and singing. Nine-thirty, ten, we go to bed. No time to sit around chattering, no TV, no magazines, no academic education. My life was fate. Now, would I send a son of mine to do that, even though I know it's great training? No, never."


John Lone talks to Sheila Benson in Interview, September 1993SB: You must be aware of your own persona, which is mysterious, almost genderless.JL: I'm pretty knowing. I know people look at me and try to make conclusions about me immediately, based on the obvious, let's say. And sometimes, I actually enjoy it. When I'm in front of heterosexual men--if we're having a meeting, or whatever--from time to time I see this vulnerability in their body language and their face. Then I see their eyes, glancing down to my lips, my mouth. Then I see them stopping themselves, just shifting a little bit, just a LITTLE uneasy. I love it. I don't go out of my way, but every time I get away with it, I do it."