Peter Loung is a multi-talented and multi-faceted performer. He's also very disciplined and focused on his craft. Starting guitar from the tender age of five years, he excelled, constituting in receiving his ARCT in guitar performance. As an acrobat, Peter has toured internationally performing for numerous companies, residencies, and corporate events and is still training. He has studied martial arts, particularly the Wing Chun and Shaolin systems of Gung Fu. As an actor, Peter has graced both the large and small screens sharing them with Robin Williams, Christian Bale, Tom Berenger, Kat Macnamara, Erin Karpluk, and a litany of other noteworthy performers. Peter is on the rise and when he had a moment, he spoke with Gemma Magazine about his acting career, his background, and overall creative process. He's dedicated, talented, and has that "star power." Let's get into it!!
Tell me a bit more about your upbringing in Toronto and how you got started in the arts.
As with many children growing up in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), I was a product of the standardized schooling system. I remember being the only Asian in my elementary school, so I was a bit of an outcast. However, in light of that, I forged my way through the academic ranks while maintaining a relatively “normal” youth. My introduction to the arts happened very early with the advent of me starting guitar lessons at the Yamaha School of Music when I was five years of age. These humble beginnings then paved and bolstered my passion for performance.
You have been really in the guitar since you were 5, which is amazing! Do you still have a passion for it?
Music appreciation was ingrained in me from childhood. My mother would play old Motown records in the house, and we would sing and dance to the classics. However, after moving from our original home to another, I found an old, beat-up acoustic guitar, which the previous owners had left behind. Being a pianist herself, my mother understood the importance of music and music education and touted me to be a pianist. I took it upon myself to lift her favorite Soap opera's melody: Days of Our Lives. From that moment forth, it became clear to her that I was destined to play the guitar. I took to the pedagogy and practical aspects of the instrument with enthusiasm and virtuosity, which was soon appreciated, awarding me the honor to enroll in the Royal Conservatory. This training then propelled me into a world of recording and composing pieces for a few record labels. Recording for record labels resulted in me being signed by EMI and after Universal Records bought out EMI. Unfortunately, music and the music business are separate and often polarizing contradictions; however, my admiration for music has not diminished, and I still, to this day, am actively playing, recording, composing, and producing multiple genres and forms. Moreover, I still revel in playing and listening to music but have a “love/hate” relationship with the music business.
How did you get into acrobatics? Did you find it challenging?
I was always an active child, running, jumping, flipping, and carrying about, as the youth of my generation did. However, it was not until my adolescence that I took acrobatics seriously. I trained a bit in gymnastics and martial arts, which facilitated a more serious and professional approach to the art form. On a whim, I contacted Zero Gravity Circus, a Toronto-based event and touring troupe, to audition as an acrobatic dancer. I vividly remember the conversation with the then owner and CEO, Eli Chernenki, exuberantly speaking about the history of the circus and the efficacy of his company in the current performance landscape. This lively exchange lasted a few minutes ending with him asking my availability for a gig at Blue Mountain (a ski resort) the next day. The rest, as the age-old adage goes, is history. I started performing and training with the acrobats of Zero Gravity on a full-time basis learning Aerial Straps, Corde Lisse, Double Trapeze, German Wheel, and myriad other circus arts and apparatus’. Zero Gravity was my stepping stone to performing with a slew of other companies and small one-off gigs. The most noteworthy was the internationally recognized and infamous mega-conglomerate, Cirque Du Soleil. Skill acquisition, choreography, and training-induced injuries are part of the creative process in the acrobatic line of work. However, to give credence to your second question, it was, of course, challenging, but a challenge I met with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.
What inspired you to make the decision to become an actor? Also, do you have formal training?
In his famous address, John F. Kennedy boldly stated, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” My decision to pursue acting as a career is just that, because it is hard, because, to me, the possible rewards far outweigh the sacrifice and because I am a performer. I am fully aware of the risks involved in my career choice, the statistics in which I have stacked against me, and the circular rhetoric surrounding a career “off-the-beaten-path,” but I don’t care. Performance is “in my blood,” it is the one thing in my life which I can say with absolute certainty that I know to be “true.” As for my training, I have taken numerous professional workshops and have studied with a litany of acting coaches ranging the gamut from the Stanislavsky Method to Michael Shurtleff’s Guideposts and everything in-between.
What was your first acting job and how did you like being on set?
From a young age, I was dancing and flipping in music videos; however, my first actual “acting” job was for the feature film “54,” then titled “Studio 54”. Though credited as a dancer, I had my first line in large-scale production. I remember being overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of base camp and the moving parts therein. I was used to seeing one director, hair and makeup, and a skeleton crew; this was another beast entirely. I shot my scene in The Guvernment, an infamous event and concert venue in the Toronto nightlife scene. Upon seeing miles of cable, a parking lot filled with trucks, multiple people with walkie-talkies, and my trailer, I was sold. For better or for worse, the acting bug had bitten me, infecting me with her sweet poison, and there was no turning back. In short, the set was another planet begging me to explore her every nook, cranny, and nuance.
You are so authentic in your roles. How do you prepare for that?
The authenticity of performance, in my humble opinion, is bred from life experience and the adaptation of said experiences. When preparing for a role, training plays a part, however, the construct of acting has to be grounded in reality and the only way to breathe legitimacy into a character is to become that person within your own idiosyncratic and psychological makeup. Moreover, I do not try to become someone else, rather I embody that person’s quirks, education, life experiences, and physical attributes into my own, creating an altered persona. This is achieved by first understanding the nuances of the story given and the journey yet to be had.
Does each form of creative expression sustain you in different ways? (Music, martial arts, and acting)
Let me preface this response by saying that I feel that all of the arts have an inherent interdisciplinary aspect. Moreover, I believe that all of the skills share a common thread that allows crossover and cross-pollination amidst a culture where the solid, succinct definition is heralded as King and expected. True creative expression is, at its core, free-flowing and without restraint. Given that to be a true postulate, the framework of creativity takes on an entirely new hypothesis once applied. Furthermore, all of these arts mentioned above have their own rules and governing givens, but their effect, to me, is the same. I get the same exhilaration dancing, as I do running a scene, as I do training. The rush of endorphins, the satisfaction after a performance, or the artistry of composition, all quench my creative thirst by allowing me to express myself in honest and heartfelt ways.
Who would you love to work with?
I am an enormous fan of the British system of theatre. Actors like Sir Lawrence Olivier, Sir Kenneth Branaugh, or Sir Ian McKellen command the stage and a presence therein, which are unrivaled. Their mastery of soliloquy and speech delivery is almost Angelic, transcending this “mortal coil” giving us glimpses into the “undiscovered country.” With that said, my preferences are bound to the UK and travel much closer to home as I am a true admirer of the American actor, Johnny Depp. Johnny’s career and job choices are both refreshing and controversial. He is an actor who has been able to craft his career by himself and for himself, and like a focused James Dean, has created characters that are both honest and flawed. Johnny Depp inspires my rebel soul by his abundant talent and swagger but, most importantly, by staying true to himself in a culture where pandering to specific agendas or trends is the norm. So, in short, it would be a great honor to share the screen with Johnny Depp.
You also have a clothing line, correct? You are ever so stylish. Tell us about your interest in fashion.
Gianni Versace once said, “don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.” This quote is both the crux and the broad mission statement of my clothing line. Persona Couture was born out of a want to wear items in which I like. Rewind about six years, I was invited to a red carpet gala at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and wanted to wear an outfit by Pierre Balmain. I looked into having the item pulled, reached out to their corporate office, and even tried contacting their PR company, but to no avail. The outfit in question would have cost me close to $10,000; that was not a feasible reality. So in defiance (and perhaps a bit of copyright infringement), I took it upon myself to make a Pierre Balmain-inspired outfit. This was a resounding success as myriad people asked me, “who are you wearing?” I continued to alter and create pieces specific to certain events or galas, subsequently snowballing into me branding my designs. My fashion is very rock n’ roll. It has elements of Philipp Plein, Pierre Balmain, and John Varvatos, has new school Hip Hop sensibilities with old school metal trends, but is unapologetically Peter Loung.
How has acting helped you evolve as a person?
I am a dreamer, and in pursuing the dream of being a working, successful actor, I have had to learn patience and acceptance. The pursuit of anything “off-the-beaten-track” is, frequently, a soul-destroying and arduous journey, riddled with landmines, booby-traps, and critical hyperbole. However, it is the possibility of triumph which gives me hope. In his famous novel, The Green Mile, Stephen King wrote, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” Just the notion of navigating the terrain of acting has taught me volumes, covering the gamut from memory to emotion, howbeit the most profound evolution has been in my focus. I can now fully tune out everything around me, appreciating and reacting to the slightest change in tone and timbre, being both aware and sympathetic to the multitude of nuances thereof. This process has taught me to be entirely “in the moment” and condoling to change. Moreover, acting has evolved my higher self by introducing me to listen.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently one of the leads on a television show entitled Rising Suns, which should be on a streaming platform shortly, and I am attached to a feature film in which I am also the lead. I have a small home studio where I compose and produce music and have been tweaking and altering my gear. Also, in a recent development over the past few months, I have started to model and now can be seen in various fashion magazine spreads and cover stories! I am actively creating new clothing and jewelry designs preparing for a brand launch, and am still training acrobatics every chance I get.
Gemma Magazine would like to thank Peter Loung for taking the time for the interview.
We will be watching him...
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