The second season of Luisa Maria Leitao’s popular talk show Telling Maria premiered on April 13, featuring Donnie Yen as the first guest. Appearing in two episodes, Donnie spoke about his rise to prominence as one of Asia’s greatest action stars, discussing the struggles and pain he had to endure in the last thirty years. He also shared some of his own childhood photos, and revealed how he met his sifu, award-winning martial arts choreographer and director Yuen Woo Ping.
Discovered by Yuen Woo Ping in the 1980s, Donnie worked as the director’s stuntman for a few years before earning his first starring role in Yuen Woo Ping’s Drunken Tai Chi, released in 1984. Following many years of success in both film and television, Donnie decided to start his own production company Bullet Films in 1996, but faced financial difficulties as a result.
The 51-year-old said he hit a financial slump while shooting his directorial debut Legend of the Wolf, which was filmed shortly before the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Donnie did not have enough money to pay for daily necessities and had to borrow from loan sharks. He could not afford food and had to ask the production company to spare him an extra meal.
The hardworking Donnie has been shooting films nonstop in the past three decades. Having accumulated many injuries over the years, Donnie said his body is now wasting away. “My spine feels like it’s now pretty much shattered. I have 100 times more injuries than even Nicholas Tse, and I almost blinded myself in four occasions.”
Donnie is currently filming Ip Man 3 and will be filming for the Hollywood film Noodle Man this summer.
See more images of the hunky actor in the gallery below.