How Video Game Roles Are Helping A Disgraced Star’s Comeback

How Video Game Roles Are Helping A Disgraced Star’s Comeback

When players enter the world of Sleeping Dogs, one of the first characters they meet is Wei Shen’s childhood friend, Jackie Ma. The voice actor who plays Ma was one of Hong Kong’s biggest stars — that is, until his private photos were leaked online.

In 2008, superstar Edison Chen sent his laptop in for repairs. Over 1300 private photos were copied by the shop, with compromising photos of Chen and several well-known Chinese celebrities — like Bobo Chan, Cecilia Cheun and Gillian Chung — leaking online. It became a huge scandal in Hong Kong, and even garnered international press. It was such a huge deal that his name was the most searched in China that year.

Still, nobody seemed to want anything to do with Chen. Big name sponsors like Samsung and Levis dropped him. The whole thing was awful for actor-singer and everyone involved, with people’s privacy violated. Chen said he was leaving the Hong Kong entertainment industry “indefinitely”. (He later returned in 2010.)

Since then, it’s been a slog to return to where he once was. Some fans still have a bad taste in their mouths over the photo leak, while others might actually like him more for his bad boy image.


In late 2010, Chen started making public appearances again — but it wasn’t for big corporate sponsors. One of his first gigs after he returned was for the 2010 Asia Game Show in Hong Kong. He appeared on stage and performed songs, covering Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.

His appearance in Sleeping Dogs is one of his highest profile acting gigs since the whole scandal. He also will reprise his role in the sequel of Initial D film, which is based on the popular Sega arcade game. While probably not intentional, part of his slow comeback seems based in gaming.

In years past, doing video game work was seen as a step down for acting. Some still might think that. They shouldn’t, because there are interesting, well written parts out there that can open up your work to an entirely new audience. Just ask Edison Chen.

Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome — game related and beyond.


  • That’s Bull. Sure he probably shouldn’t have saved stuff like that to his computer, but the fact that these people at this I.T shop copied the files then loaded them onto the net is lame. I know its happened before with I.T repair places uploading files to the net but seriously they need a big penalty for this. It is disgusting behaviour.

  • Rumor is that one of the girls in the photos was the daughter of someone big in the Triads, so that’s why he buggered off to the States. Can’t blame him really, but glad to see he’s making a comeback 🙂

  • The live action Inital D film is not based off Sega’s Initial D arcade games. The manga and anime have been around much, MUCH longer.

  • Not sure if a supporting voice actor role for a video game counts as a comeback. Doubt he will ever come close to regaining even a smidgeon of his previous popularity. The HK China movie scene has moved on, plenty of better actors out there.
    Only heard speculation about Intial-D 2, it has supposedly been in the pipeline since 2005 but nothing has eventuated yet…

  • Actually, he was also in the The Dark Knight Returns, but his scenes got cut due to the scandal at the time and all there was left was a scene with the back of his head and his voice as he shows Morgan Freeman where that building & security was.

    • In DKR his role was little more than as an extra. Scenes weren’t cut because of the photo scandal that’s giving him too much credit. He was just a no name (in Hollywood) actor playing a bit part that had no bearing on the story whatsoever. His character didn’t even have a name.

  • The scandal also destroyed the careers of some of the female celebrities involved. One of them had a brand spanking new (and expensive) contract with Disney. Photos came out, Disney dropped her, and she got kicked out of her singing duo group.

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