The actress, who appeared in five Harry Potter films as Cho Chang, is starring in SundanceTV's miniseries One Child, in which she plays a British woman who was born in China and given up for adoption. When her birth mother contacts her, she learns she has a brother who was wrongfully convicted of murder — and that it's up to her to get him out of prison.
“They are emotionally draining,” Leung tells The Hollywood Reporter of her heavy scenes. “At the same time, they are very real.”
In a chat with THR, Leung also reveals what she thinks of the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff films, why she chose One Child, and how she prepared.
What was the audition process like?
I auditioned for it way back. Three or four years ago. I fell in love with the script, but it took quite some time for it to happen.
What kind of preparation did you do?
I watched the documentary Somewhere Between, which was very helpful for the role. It's the journey of four teenage Chinese girls who had been adopted and are living their lives in America with Caucasian parents. It was interesting to see from their perspective where they were in life.
There are a number of powerful scenes in this, like when your birth mother explains why she gave you up. What was it like shooting those scenes?
They are very emotional and emotionally draining. At the same time, they are very real because it's not difficult to get into that frame of mind of what it would be like without a mother — to have gone through 20-something years thinking you were abandoned because your family didn't want a girl. To discover that was the case, and that your mother is living in poverty and your dad wanted a son hurt her more than she thought.
What was the best part of this project?
Being involved in such a heartbreaking story makes you very appreciative of your own life.
Do you still get fan attention from Harry Potter?
I still get a lot of mail and contact from fans, especially on Twitter. They are so lovely and dedicated. You would think after the films are finished and the books written, it would diminish, but that is not the case. They are keeping the world alive through social media.
And they'll make the spinoff movies.
I can't wait to see what they're doing with it, especially because David Yates is directing again. It's going to be amazing, no doubt.
One Child airs Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on SundanceTV.