Andy Lau Tak-Wah MH, JP (born 27 September 1961) is a Hong Kong Cantopop singer, actor, and producer. Lau has been one of Hong Kong's most commercially successful film actors since the mid-1980s, performing in more than 120 films while maintaining a successful singing career at the same time. In the 1990s, Lau was branded by the media as one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop along with Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung and Leon Lai. As a young boy Lau had to fetch water for his family up to eight times a day because their house was not equipped with plumbing. He later graduated from a Band One Secondary School, Ho Lap College in San Po Kong, Kowloon. He also practices Chinese calligraphy.
In 1981, Lau made a guest appearance in one of Susanna Kwan's music video and caught the eye of the manager Teddy Robin. Teddy Robin then gave Lau a chance to play a small role in the movie Once Upon a Rainbow. This was the first step in Lau's film acting career. He was then given a role in Ann Hui's 1982 film, Boat People. Later in 1983 he had his first leading role in a Shaw Brothers film called On the Wrong Track. One of his early leading roles included the more serious 1988 film The Truth . However, Lau is best known in movies for his (often) recurring roles as a "Heroic Gangster" such as Wong Kar-wai's 1988 film, As Tears Go By and Johnnie To's 1990 film, A Moment of Romance. Though a respectable actor, Lau in the early days was known more for his good looks. The people he works with say he is an idol, but he has claimed to be an artist. Lau has proved his acting skills in many of his movies. His first major acting prize came with A Fighter's Blues, which was his first Golden Bauhinia Award for Best Actor. He would win the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor award that year for Running out of Time. In 2004, he won the prestigious Golden Horse Award for his performance in Infernal Affairs III, the sequel to the popular Infernal Affairs. Western audiences may also be familiar with his performance in the House of Flying Daggers. In 2005, Lau was awarded "No.1 Box Office Actor 1985-2005" of Hong Kong, yielding a total box office of HKD 1,733,275,816 for shooting 108 films in the past 20 years. The aforementioned figure is as compared to the first runner-up Stephen Chow's (HKD 1,317,452,311) and second runner-up Jackie Chan's (HKD 894,090,962). "I've never imagine that it would be as much as 1.7 billion!" he told the reporters. For his contributions, a wax figure of Lau was unveiled on June 1, 2005 at the Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. In 2007, Lau was also awarded the "Nielsen Box Office Star of Asia" by the Nielsen Company (ACNielsen).
Lau released his first album "Only Know that I Still Love You" (只知道此刻愛你) under Capital Artists in 1985. However, his first album was not a big hit. Despite having a voice not traditionally associated with popular music, his hard work and perseverance resulted in him being one of the most successful singers. His singing career reached stellar status in 1990 with the release of the album entitled "Would It Be Possible" (可不可以), and his subsequent releases only solidified his status as a marketable singer. For that song, he would win his first 1990 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards. He would then win at least one RTHK award category every year consecutively until the year 2007. From Jade Solid Gold Top 10 Awards, he has won the “Most Popular Hong Kong Male Artist” award 7 times and the “Asia Pacific Most Popular Hong Kong Male Artist” award 15 times. He also entered into Guinness World Records for "Most Awards Won By A Cantopop Male Artist". By April 2000, he had already won a total unprecedented 292 awards. Many of his songs quickly topped the music charts, not only in Hong Kong, but also in Taiwan, Mainland China, and in many different parts of Asia. Some of the most notable hits by Lau include "The Days We Spent Together" (一起走過的日子), "If You Are My Legend" (如果你是我的傳說), "The Tide" (潮水), "Forget Love Potion" (忘情水), "True Forever" (真永遠), "Chinese people" (中國人), "Love You Forever" (愛你一萬年), "You Are My Woman" (你是我的女人), "Secret Admiration" (暗裡著迷). Besides singing in Cantonese and Mandarin, he also sang in other languages, such as English, Japanese, Malay, and Taiwanese. One example of a Hokkien song was (世界第一等).
In 1994, Lau established the "Andy Lau Charity Foundation" which helps people in need and promotes a wide range of youth education services. In 1999, he was awarded the "Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World", being the 3rd person from Hong Kong at that time to bestow this distinguished honor. In 2008, Lau took a main role in putting together the Artistes 512 Fund Raising Campaign for donation relief toward the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It was one of the largest and most ambitious charity event ever assembled in the territory. Lau has been noted for his active involvement in charity works throughout his 30 years of showbiz career and was honored "Justice of Peace" by the Hong Kong SAR government in 2008. In May 2010, he received the "World Outstanding Chinese" award and an "honorary doctorate" from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.