Vale: Gregory Charles Rivers

Vale: Gregory Charles Rivers

Australian actor Gregory Charles Rivers, who built a career working in Hong Kong film and television, has died aged 58.

The South China Morning Post reports police discovered his body dead in a suspected suicide at his home in Clear Water Bay on Friday, after receiving a report from his family.

Less than 40 years ago, Rivers bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong to work as an English teacher. He met his wife, Bonnie Cheung, in the city and later secured a contract with TVB, the leading local free television broadcaster, to act in a drama series, Twilight Of A Nation.

“The audition was really bad but they didn’t have a second choice,” he recalled in an ABC News interview. “I ended up being TVB’s token Caucasian for 20 years straight!”

Renowned among local audiences for his fluency in Cantonese, he appeared in more than 200 soap operas in roles that ranged from high-ranking police officers to foreign ambassadors. Some of his popular work included the 2022 action thriller Man on the Edge opposite legendary Hong Kong actor Simon Yam. He also starred opposite Jackie Chan in the 2021 HK comedy movie All U Need Is Love. 

One fan wrote: “He was one of us, the Hongkongers. It is very sad to see this great man go this way.”

Other admirers spoke about the actor’s passion for Cantonese culture and artistic contributions to Hong Kong, with some saying they grew up watching him in local TV dramas.

“His love for Hong Kong, its film, TV, music culture, and Cantonese really shined through,” another internet user wrote.

Gareth Williams, Australia’s consul general in Hong Kong and Macau, wrote, “Born in Gympie, Queensland, Rivers moved to HK in 1988 and went on to become one of the best-known Cantonese-speaking foreign actors in Hong Kong television,” he wrote. “My sincere condolences to Rivers’ family and many friends.”

Rivers was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2017, though he successfully underwent surgery and remained cancer-free after that. In 2018, however, Rivers was diagnosed with arrhythmia, and was reported to be in heavy debt after undergoing two surgeries for the heart condition.

Tragically, Rivers’ wife Bonnie Cheung passed away just a few months before him.

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Source: South China Morning Post, The Star, Daily Mail.