Mark Chao, born as Zhao Youting, is a Canadian-Taiwanese actor. Born in Taiwan, he spent most of his impressionable years in Canada. After graduating from University of Victoria at the age of 23, he moved to Taiwan to chalk out a career in acting. However in the beginning, he did not get any offer and was on the verge of admitting that acting was not for him, when he received his first role. At the age of 25, he began his career as the righteous cop Wu Ying Xiong in the Taiwanese television series, 'Black and White' and received the Golden Bell Award for his debut role. Thereafter, he started appearing in films, most of which are very popular with the viewers and are simultaneously released in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Although a Canadian citizen, he now lives in Taiwan.
Childhood & Early Life
Mark Chao was born as Zhao Youting on September 25, 1984 in Taipei, Taiwan. His father, Allen Chao (originally Zhao Shu Hai), is a successful actor and television host, while his mother, Dai Yiyu, was trained in law. He has an elder brother named Zhao Zhongting, also called John Chao.
While studying in his primary school, Mark moved with his family to Canada, where he studied at Oak Bay High School, Oak Bay, British Columbia. Although initially his father stayed back in China they were all settled in the New World by 1996.
As a child, he learned piano and drum. He also enjoyed singing although he does not consider himself a great singer. While studying at Oak Bay High School, he regularly performed in school dramas and made some student movies just for fun.
After graduating from high school, he entered the Department of Social Science at the University of Victoria, graduating from there in 2007 with a double degree in sociology and economics. Thereafter, he returned to Taiwan to begin his acting career.
In Taiwan, Mark Chao unsuccessfully auditioned for few roles and when he did not receive any offer he decided to return to Canada. But before he actually did that, he was contacted by director Tsai Yueh-hsun, who offered him a role in his upcoming Taiwanese TV series.
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In 2009, Mark Chao began his career with the star role of the Southern District Bureau of Forensic Officer Wu Ying Xiong in the award-winning Taiwanese television series, 'Scorpion Hero' ('Black and White'). Filmed in Taiwan, it was first broadcast on Public Television Service from 11 April to 27 June 2009.
Also in 2009, he was cast as Mosquito in the Taiwanese gangster film, ‘Monga’. Released at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival on 29 January 2010 and in Taiwan on 5 February, 2010, it grossed more than NT$250 million (HK$61 million), making it one of the most successful domestic productions.
His second film, ‘Black & White Episode I: The Dawn of Assault’, in which he reprised the role of Wu Ying Xiong, was released in January 2012. It became a box office hit both in Taiwan and Mainland China.
In February 2012, his third film, Love’, in which he starred as Mark, was released almost simultaneously in Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. It was not only a box office hit in Taiwan, grossing NT$180 million, but also became the highest-grossing Taiwanese film in the Mainland China.
His fourth film, ‘First Time’, released in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan on 8 June 2012, is a Chinese romantic film, in which he starred as Gong Ning / Lu Xia. It was followed in the same year by equally successful ‘Caught in the Web’ and ‘I Love You to Love Me’.
In 2013, he had two films released; ‘So Young’ and ‘Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon'. While he starred as Chen Xiaozheng, an ambitious and nerdy university student, in the former, in the latter, he played the role of Di Renjie.
In 2014, he once again reprised the role of Wu Ying Xiong in 'Black & White: The Dawn of Justice', a prequel to ‘Black & White’ (2009) and a sequel to ‘Black & White Episode I: The Dawn of Assault’ (2012). It was followed by ‘Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe’ (2015) and ‘The Warriors Gate’ (2016).
In 2017, he returned to the television after a long gap of seven years, appearing as Ye Hua / Mo Yuan / Zhao Ge in the Chinese television series, 'Eternal Love'. Also in the same year, he made a special appearance in another Chinese television production, 'Midnight Dinner'.
In 2018, he returned to the big screen, appearing as Wu Fuchun in 'Till the End of the World' and reprising the role of Di Renjie in 'Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings'. His latest film, ‘Saturday Fiction' in which he appeared as Tan Na, was released in 2019.
Mark Chao is best known for his role of Mosquito in the gangster film, ‘Monga’ (2010), set in 1980s Monga district of Taipei. The film was not easy for him to do because he was totally unfamiliar about its cultural background. Undeterred, he undertook thorough research and gave a memorable performance.
Family & Personal Life
On 6 June 2014, Mark Chao married actress Yuanyuan Gao, whom he met during the filming of 'Caught in the Web'. The couple has a daughter named Rhea, born on 21 May 2019. Presently, they live in Taiwan.