Ang Lee Biography, Age, Career, Religion, Family, Awards, and Quotes

Ang Lee Biography

Ang Lee is a Taiwanese-born film director and screenwriter. He was born on the 23rd of October 1954 in the township off Chaozhou located in the Pingtung County in Southern Taiwan. Over the years, Ang has garnered popularity internationally for many of his works in the film industry including his work in ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden’, ‘Dragon’, ‘Hulk’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and ‘Life of Pi’ among others.

Ang first got successful after his work in ‘Pushing Hands’ in 1991; ‘Wedding Banquet’ in 1993; and ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’ in 1994. He got even further success in 1995 after his work in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ where he got greatly praised and received several awards. Many of Ang Lee’s productions are known for their emotional charge and exploration of repressed, hidden emotions. This feature is believed by commentators to be the key to his massive success as a filmmaker.

Ang Lee was born and raised in a Waishengren family (mainlanders). They lived in a military dependents’ village of the Taiwanese Armed forces located in Chaozhou, Pingtung. He studied at the Provincial Tainan First Senior High School (National Tainan First Senior High School) with his father as the school principal. Next, he attended the National Arts School, a 3-year college, after failing the annual Joint College/University Entrance Examination twice.

Early Career

After graduating in 1975, he started in drama and arts despite his father’s aspirations of him becoming a professor. He was greatly inspired to partake in this field with Ingmar Bergman’s film The Virgin Spring (1960). He completed his mandatory military service in the Republic of China Navy then moved to the United States and started studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In 1980, he completed his studies and got his bachelor’s degree in theatre.

At first, he wanted to become an actor, but since he had trouble speaking English at the time, he went with directing. After some time, he furthered his studies at the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University and got his Master of Fine Arts in film production. While still in graduate school, Ang Lee finished ‘Shades of the Lake’ released in 1982. He also wrote a thesis for ‘Fine Line’ released in 1984. His work on the latter brought him to the attention of the William Morris Agency.

At WMA, Ang Lee’s opportunities were very limited at first. Subsequently, he spent about 6 years unemployed. He spent his time as a house husband being taken care of by his wife. He also wrote a lot of screenplays at this time. In 1990, he submitted ‘Pushing Hands’ and ‘The Wedding Banquet’ to a competition by the Government Information Office of R.O.C. By the end of the competition, his screenplays took first and second place respectively.

A photo of Ang Lee
A photo of Ang Lee


Following his success in the competition, he encountered Hsu Li-kong a senior manager in a major studio. He next got the chance to direct Pushing Hands, a full-length feature that debuted in 1991. This first film was a success not only with critics but also at the Box Office. Two years later, he had collaborated with Hsu Li Kong and created ‘The Wedding Banquet’ also a great success with several awards. Both of these movies featured Chinese American stories and were filmed in the US.

In 1994, Ang Lee went back to Taiwan and started working on ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’. This film was also very successful with several awards both regionally and internationally.

Move to Hollywood

In 1995, he directed the British Classic, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, And Kate Winslet. With this, he won various awards. Thompson later stated that she found working with Ang was like having “the most wonderful time because his notes were so brutal and funny.” After that, he directed ‘The Ice Storm’ released in 1997 and ‘Ride With The Devil’ released in 1999. Despite the praise these two films got from critics, they didn’t make in the Box Office.

However, sometime in the late ’90s and early 2000s, ‘the Ice Storm’ started gaining popularity with increased VHS and DVD sales and rentals as well as repeated screenings on cable television

21st Century Work

In 2000, Ang Lee collaborated with his old friend, Hsu Li-Kong and created ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ released in 2000. Three years later, he directed ‘Hulk’ in Hollywood. Next, he went for a small-budget, low-profile independent film which turned out to become ‘Brokeback Mountain’ released in 2005. Next, Lee would work on a film adaptation of the short novel, ‘Lust, Caution’. The film was released in 2007 and distributed by Focus Features.

In 2009, ‘Taking Woodstock’, the film he directed was released. about 3 years later, ‘ Life of Pi’ another one of his films was released. This film was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Yann Martel. Ang Lee next directed ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’. This film was a box-office failure. On top of that, it received mixed reviews from critics and audiences.


In 2019, Ang Lee’s film, ‘Gemini Man’ starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong. The film is to be released on October 11, 2019. After that, Ang is to direct ‘Thrilla in Manila’.

Ang Lee Age

As of 2018, Lee is 64 years old.

Ang Lee Family

Ang Lee has been married to Jane Lin, a microbiologist, since 1983. The couple currently lives in Larchmont, New York. They have two sons, Haan (born in 1984), and Mason, an actor, (born in 1990).

Ang Lee Awards

  • Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film in 2012
  • Two Academy Award for Best Director in 2005 and 2012
  • Two Golden Lions in 2005 and 2007
  • Two Director Guild of America Award- Motion Pictures in 2001 and 2006
  • Producers Guild of America of America Award-Motion Pictures in 2006
  • Critics Choice Award for Best Director in 2006
  • Two Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director in 2001 and 2006
  • Two Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama in 1996 and 2006
  • Two British Academy Film Awards for Best Director in 2000 and 2005
  • Two Golden Globes for Best Director in 2000 and 2005
  • Two NBR Awards for Best Director in 1995 and 2002
  • Independent Award for Best Feature in 2001
  • Saturn Award for Best Adventure Film in 2001
  • A British Academy Film Award for Best Film Not in the English Language in 2000
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000
  • Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000
  • Two Golden Berlin Bears in 1993 and 1996
  • British Academy Film Award for Best Film in 1995

Ang Lee Net Worth

Since he began directing, Ang Lee has achieved various successes in his productions. Through these, he has managed to garner expertise, awards, fame, recognition as well as huge amounts of income. Upon compilation, his net worth as of 2019, is estimated to amount to US$ 32 million.

Ang Lee Quotes

Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done

I feel that everyone has a Hulk inside, and each of our Hulks is both scary and, potentially, pleasurable. That’s the scariest thing about them

Sexuality is a big issue, but there are others – how much you commit to a relationship, to social obligation, to honesty and being honest with yourself.

Sometimes films ignore other points of view because it’s simpler to tell the story that way, but the more genuine and sympathetic you are to different points of view and situations, the more real the story is

The woman’s perspective is like the dark side of the moon: it always exists, but it is never exposed, at least not in my culture.
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Ang Lee Religion

Ang Lee is believed to be a Buddhist. This is because there has been a time he has revealed that he believes in the Taoist-Buddha.