Ken is Chinese-American.
Ken's favorite role was in The Squid and the Whale mostly because the movie filmed scenes in his high school.
Brett Ratner has said that Ken is a brilliant actor who is on par with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Edward Norton has said that Ken has unlimited potential as an actor.
While filming Rush Hour director Brett Ratner told Chris Tucker that Ken was a dangerous fifth-degree black belt and didn't like African Americans so their scenes would be more authentic.
During college Ken was part of a traveling group of actors affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital who employed drama to teach youth about AIDS, teen pregnancy and other issues they had to face.
While in college, Ken participated in the groups groups such as Ma-Yi, New Perspectives, and STAR which preformed in mostly black boxes.
In 2007, Ken won the Breakout Performance award for his role in Shanghai Kiss, at the San Francisco International Asian American Film festival.
Ken Leung endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential election.
Before becoming an actor Ken studied physical therapy at New York University.
Ken is 5' 7" (1.70m) tall.
Ken frequently works with Brett Ratner.
Ken made his Broadway debut as Ching Ho in the 2002 Tony Award winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Ken: I always let things come to me, I guess. And I've had this belief that if you stay true to why you're doing it, then things will come to you, and I haven't really been interested in pursuing lots and lots of work. I don't really know what that does, other than keep you really busy. I just want to act. And through that, learn what I can about dealing with people and the world. So I don't need to do that as fast as humanly possible, and I don't need to accumulate as many credits as humanly possible. I feel like that's a different goal. If I can act in a sixth floor blackbox in a play that speaks to me that I love, with people who are a good and we connect and can collaborate on something, then that's it. That's what it's about. It's just at some point it gets murky, because you have to make a living, and so you try to kind of balance that. You don't create a plan to deal with murkiness, you just kind of take it as it comes and, like I said, learn from it.
Ken:(On if being a more established actor helps him land parts not written for Asians) I don't know, because I don't know what the people on the other end are thinking. You want to be invited into the room for you, and not what you look like. That's true for anybody for any profession. Not what you look like or what you "represent" or anything like that. But it's hard to say because sometimes you're like, "they just want me so they can add some color to their palette." Or, "they just want me so that they can be diverse in their casting." You don't know.
Ken: (On playing a mutant in "X-Men") That was weird because I wasn't an X-Men fan. I had just come back from Shanghai after Shanghai Kiss, and I actually told Brett that I didn't feel like I was right for it. Brett was just like, "oh just come over," and I was like, "what am I playing?" And he said, "I don't know, we'll figure something out for you." So it was kind of like that. I think the thing with the character's spikes was really because Brett wanted something visual -- he wanted a power he could see. And so I remember spending days and days and days with him in the chair trying to build this prosthetic on me, which ended up changing my face too much, that they ended up going with special effects. But, you know, that wasn't really a part where there was something for me to do -- it was just a lot of posing and looking, I guess, mutant-like. Imagining a bridge falling apart, when there was nothing there. So that was new, and I kind of took it as, "Oh, this is a part of filmmaking that I don't know," and so it's good in that respect. But when I think of roles and experiences on films, X-Men doesn't really register because there wasn't really anything for me to play.
Ken: (About coming onto Lost) I remember last year, starting off, I kind of felt like I've been acting for 10-15 years, and coming on Lost, it almost feels like I'm starting all over again, because I don't really know what my bearings are. I'm so far from home. I'm in this place that couldn't be any more different than New York City, on a show where no one's telling me anything. And while I'm confused and trying to find my way, everyone is congratulating me and saying what a big deal it is, so you just try to keep your head, you know? And you have to keep reminding yourself that sometimes, this is what I'm doing this for. You've got to go back to step one. What am I playing? What can I use?
Ken:(About transitioning from theater to TV and films) I'm trying to remember. I think Law & Order was one of my first television things. When you're an actor, it's a natural progression. You can't do plays for free all your life. So when there's a part for an Asian character in a television show, you go out for it and build on that. It's not so premeditated, is what I'm trying to say. It's not like, "now I'm going to do TV. Now I'm going to do film." You try out for everything that you can. You don't have the luxury, when you're starting out, and certainly as a minority actor, you go for what's available and then you hope to just learn as you go and build on that as they come.
Ken: I did a lot of Shakespeare and a lot of tiny blackbox theater. Usually they were showcases and they were for actors in need of a showcase and just in need of a play to do. The play could be on the sixth floor of some office building. I just went out for everything I possibly could. I don't do that anymore, so as far as that niche, I don't really know what the state of affairs is right now. But I remember doing a lot of classical plays and a lot of non-traditional theater.
Ken:(On how he got into acting) I was majoring in pre-physical therapy [at NYU], for no good reason. [laugh] I think in high school, I saw a pamphlet during a career day. It said "Physical Therapy: the profession of the future," and I was like, oh, that will make my parents happy.... I was taking all these science classes and I wanted to play, so I took this acting class. Looking back, I think I did it to learn how to deal with people, as I think remains the reason. My "first date" was not a date, it was an acting date, on stage in an acting class and, I don't know, I think it gave me a safety to explore how to communicate with people. You know, it gives you things to say, it gives you situations to be in. Acting in general has allowed me to meet all these people, taken me all over the world to places that I would not have gone on my own. And so it's really just engaged me with the world in a way it might not have if I had not done this. So, looking back, maybe it was a subconscious thing. I sometimes wonder that I subconsciously wanted to teach myself how to be part of the world.
Ken: (On getting into character for The Sopranos) That's such a hard question because I don't fix stereos, so it's not like I plug this in here and I reconnect these fuses and then bingo. I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. I know that the character's predicament had a lot to do with his history with his parents, in particular his father, and so I guess in answer to your question, my preparation went there. His attraction to Uncle Junior was based on him seeing him as a father figure, and needing a father figure, and so your preparation comes from that starting point. Why is that? What does the father figure mean to him? These things are hard. If I were to ask you, "Hey Oliver, what does your father mean to you?," it's a very hard question. It's not like my father means this or that.
Ken:(On landing high profile roles in a short period of time) I don't think of them that way. I don't think of them as high profile or low profile. They're just different stories that you're trying to tell. I remember Shanghai Kiss came in the middle of a particularly hectic year, both professionally and personally. So when I think back on Shanghai Kiss, I think yeah, that was the summer of 2005. That's when this and that happened. I mean, being an actor, you're not in the position to chart your course. It's pretty much one step at a time.
Ken: (On not having to audition for Lost) I would rather go through the rigamarole. I don't know why, but I love auditioning. And if I'm not right for the part, then I shouldn't be doing it. And if I am, then I get to audition for it, and I get to begin the process of it. Whereas if someone asks you to come over and play some unknown, yet to be determined, never explained role, you're in the dark. Although I do understand that that is their process, and it's not unique to me at all. Every actor on the show faces the same predicament, and some actors don't see it as a predicament. Some actors love not knowing, or don't need to know, so there's something to be said for that.
Ken: The scene in The Squid and the Whale was shot at my actual high school, so that's a favorite. It inadvertently brought me back to the neighborhood I grew up in.
Ken:(On the roles he plays) They're [just] kind of offbeat parts of those stories.
Ken: (About his role on The Sopranos) The moment Dominic Chianese [Uncle Junior] said, 'It's just you and me, kid,' it was a joyride.
Ken: How developed Asian American characters are might depend on how developed the relationship is between [film and TV] creators and Asian American communities. It might not be a lack of certain types of characters as it is an evolving consciousness about those communities.
Ken: (About his role in The Sopranos) I wasn't critical of those who said it was similar to [Virginia Tech killer] Cho Seung Hui, [but] it was scary that it overshadowed the murder that took place in the same episode involving a gunman.
Ken: (On his character on Lost being specifically for him) I feel touched and unnerved. It's magical to have a space made for you.
Ken: (On why he doesn't watch Lost) I didn't want to be distracted to the point that suddenly I have a relationship with the show where I'm the audience, and I have to go back and then watch myself. It gets a little confusing.
Ken: (On why he thinks people think he is unapproachable) My face frowns by default, so when I'm most calm is when I appear the least approachable, this combined with a reclusive nature can make me hard to talk to.
Ken: (Talking about US presidential candidate Barack Obama) I'm trying to learn how to express myself politically, and he's moved me to do that and i think that is the biggest impact he has had on me so far, where he has activated this part of me that has not really existed before.
Ken: (On dealing with not knowing what will happen next on Lost) You prepare the scenes that you're doing so they make sense to you, and you're coming from some perspective, and it's really up to you to make decisions on why you do things or what you're after. Meanwhile, you know that it's your own concoction, and you really don't know how it ultimately fits into the grand scheme of the story.
Ken: (On balancing his work load) I try to balance it the best that I can as they come. I try to return to the plays as much as I can. You get to rehearse things, and you get to take part in good material, in ways that you can't when you're doing network television. You get to collaborate on something, and it's really closer to what I do.