Ang Lee casts son Mason to play Bruce Lee in biopic

The Oscar-winning director’s 32-year-old son has been training for three years for the role

Ang Lee has cast his son Mason Lee as Bruce Lee in a new biopic.

The Oscar-winning film-maker of Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain has taken on a project that has already seen four writers deliver different versions of the script. The latest rewrite will come from the Oscar-nominated Capote screenwriter Dan Futterman.

“Accepted as neither fully American nor fully Chinese, Bruce Lee was a bridge between East and West who introduced Chinese kung fu to the world, a scientist of combat and an iconic performing artist who revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema,” Ang Lee said to Deadline. “I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound-frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality.”

The film, called Bruce Lee, has been something the director has reportedly been working on for a while in secret. His 32-year-old son has also been training for the last three years in Asia to prepare for the role. His credits include roles in The Hangover Part II, Limbo and Dead Pigs. He also made an appearance in his father’s 2016 drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

A still from Fist of Fury
A still from the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury. Photograph: supplied

Sony’s Elizabeth Gabler, who is overseeing the project, has called it “a longtime passion project” for the director and has promised “an extraordinary theatrical event”.

Born in San Francisco and raised in British Hong Kong, Bruce Lee gained fame originally on TV’s The Green Hornet before graduating to film with hits including Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. He died at the age of 32.

His life and groundbreaking career has previously been told in the 50-episode series The Legend of Bruce Lee in 2008, which has been watched by more than 400 million Chinese viewers. Lee’s daughter Shannon criticized her father’s controversial portrayal in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 comedy Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, calling it “really uncomfortable to sit in the theatre and listen to people laugh” at his appearance.

Ang Lee’s most recent film was the Will Smith action thriller Gemini Man in 2019, which was a commercial and critical misfire, losing around $111m and scoring a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. His credits also include The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hulk.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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