Dustin Nguyen - Biography

After escaping from Vietnam with his family on the day Saigon fell in 1975, Dustin Nguyen (pronounced "win") went on to establish himself as one of Hollywood's premiere Asian-American actors, having starred on such hit shows as 21 Jump Street (1987), SeaQuest, police des mers (1993), as well as feature films.

Of noteworthy is Nguyen landing the much coveted starring role in the critically-acclaimed Little Fish (2005), opposite Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett. Nguyen played "Jonny", Cate's love interest in a story that revolves around her "Tracy", a former heroin addict trying to rebuild her life. Nguyen, also a recovered addict, re-enters her life determined to convince her that they are still meant to be together. The film, which also starred Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Martin Henderson, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to become the number-one film in Australia. Along the way, it collected 5 Australian Film Institute Awards and 3 Film Critics Awards. "Little Fish" then opened in New York to rave reviews. Critics took note of Nguyen's performance and transformation into a leading man among the A-list cast. Most recently, Nguyen starred in Justin Lin's latest film, Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee (2007), which is having its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In this 1970s comedy, Nguyen played an out-of-work actor, who is in the midst of a casting call to replace the freshly deceased Bruce Lee in his unfinished "Game Of Death". Nguyen also had just starred in his first villain role in Dòng máu anh hùng (2007) (aka "The Rebel"), a French-Vietnamese 1920s period action-drama, as well as a romantic lead in Sai Gon nhat thuc (2007) (aka "Saigon Eclipse"), a modern day love-story set in Saigon, Vietnam. These two films marked Nguyen's first return to Vietnam in 32 years.

In earlier years, Nguyen has also found success in feature films. He landed a pivotal role in Warner Bros.' Entre ciel et terre (1993), directed by Oliver Stone, followed by the action-drama No Escape No Return (1993). In addition, he also starred in the independent romantic-comedy Hundred Percent (1998).

Born in South Vietnam, Nguyen enjoyed a comfortable existence, his father being one of the nation's top film and stage actors. Forced to leave the country on virtually a moment's notice when the North Vietnamese took over the country, the Nguyens became the first Vietnamese family to settle in St. Louis, MO. During his junior high school years, Nguyen found "personal excellence" through martial arts, which he describes as "the first awakening of my soul". Following high school, he moved to Southern California to attend Orange Coast College and, at the suggestion of a friend, took an acting class - or as he describes it "the second awakening of my soul". The rest, as he puts it, "was a series of fateful events".

After making his professional debut on a special two-hour Magnum (1980), where he played a young Cambodian freedom fighter, Nguyen went on to enjoy enormous popularity as "Suki" on Hôpital central (1963). His breakthrough role, however, came when he was cast as "Det. Harry Ioki" in the new Fox network's flagship show, 21 Jump Street (1987), on which he starred for four seasons. It was here that Nguyen became the first prime-time Asian heartthrob, and got his official introduction to fame!

What is more to his liking is testing his limits on his Ducati motorcycle, or practicing his Muay Thai kick-boxing. When not out navigating hairpin turns on his bike, Nguyen spends his spare time practicing several styles of martial arts. In addition to Muay Thai, he also trains in Tae Kwon Do, the Filipino-based styles of Kali and Escrima and, most of all, Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do. Nguyen's then largely unknown martial arts expertise was showcased when he starred in the Levi Jeans' European "Hero" campaign, which expanded upon his ever-growing international profile. The campaign was uniquely ground-breaking in that it was the first time Levi's had used an Asian lead. For Nguyen, it offered the first opportunity to apply his love for the martial arts along with his dramatic training as he collaborated with director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast (2000), Birth (2004)) on the fight choreography.

Nguyen and his wife, former model/actress Angela Rockwood-Nguyen, are also very involved with The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Several years ago, his wife was involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed, rendering her quadriplegic. Since then, they have worked closely with the foundation and have recently become the spokespersons for The Paralysis Resource Center's Minority Communities Outreach Campaign, which aims to increase awareness of and access to the PRC amongst minority communities in the US. On the business side, Nguyen has an exclusive custom silver jewelry line called Imperial Rose Collections. Its unique and artistic designs are catching on with the in-crowd of Hollywood and Japan.

Dustin and his wife Angela live in Los Angeles.