Don Duong was born in Da Lat, South Vietnam. He began acting in 1982 and has appeared in over 50 feature films. He won the Best Vietnamese Actor award for his role in the 1992 Vietnamese film Dấu Ấn của Quỷ ("Devil's Mark"). The 1996 film Cỏ Lau, in which he also acted, won Best Picture at the Vietnamese National Film Festival.
In Green Dragon (2001), a film directed by Tony Bui's brother Timothy Linh Bui and starring Patrick Swayze and Forest Whitaker, Duong played a Vietnamese refugee who assisted Swayze's character. In We Were Soldiers (2002), Duong played Nguyễn Hữu An, a PAVN lieutenant colonel who led Vietnamese forces against the soldiers led by Mel Gibson's character.
Upon his return to Vietnam, Duong was subjected to severe criticism by some Vietnamese citizens and government officials for his involvement in these two projects, particularly for his portrayal, in We Were Soldiers of a Vietnamese soldier who shoots a captured American soldier in the back. The Vietnamese actors' association expelled him, he was banned from working in Vietnam, and his passport was confiscated. Duong wrote a letter to his sons, reflecting upon his ordeal and stating that they "can know the truth, to affirm that I am always and forever not a traitor." The letter was released to the public and published in the Los Angeles Times.
As the filmmaking community in the U.S. and elsewhere spoke out against the government's treatment of Duong, the government of Vietnam relented and allowed him and his family to emigrate to the United States.
He has also acted in the South Korean film Farewell the River. As of 2006, Don Duong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
... aka Mê Thao - Il fut un temps (France) ... aka Mê Thao: There Was a Time When (International: English title)
... aka Wir waren Helden (Germany)
... aka Immeuble, L' (France) ... aka The Building (Europe: English title)
... aka Ba mua (Vietnam)
... aka Sandy Lives (International: English title)