Wu Nien-jen was born in a coal miner's family on August 5, 1952. He started writing short stories for newspapers in 1975, when he was still an Accounting major in college. After penning his first screenplay in 1978, Wu entered Central Motion Picture Corporation as a creative supervisor and worked with several leadings Taiwanese New Wave directors such as Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang. Wu has since wrote more than 70 screenplays that were made into films, and has become one of the leadings artists of the Taiwanese Cinema of the 1980s. Wu has also set the record for winning the most Golden Horse Awards to date (Taiwan's Film Awards), among them include: a collaboration with the internationally acclaimed Hong Kong director Anne Hui on her film Song of Exile aka Ketu qiuhen (1990). His novels and screenplays have also made him one of Taiwan's best-selling authors as well.
Nien-Jen Wu made his directorial debut in 1994 with A Borrowed Life (1994), aka Duo-Sang (1994). The award winning movie commemorates Wu's Japanese-educated, hard-working coal-miner father. The film won the Grand Prize at The Torino Film Festival in Italy, and Best Actor and The International Critics Award in The Thessaloniki Film Festival in Greece. Martin Scorsese also has cited Duo-Sang as one of his favorite films, and picked the film as the one of the best films of the 1990s. In 1996, Wu wrote and directed his second film Buddha Bless America, aka Taipin tienguo (1996),a political satire set in the 1960s. Besides his directing and writing career, Wu appears in film cameos from time-to-time. But it was not until he acted in several beer and food product commercials that his true acting talent was discovered. He was cast as the lead ("NJ") in Edward Yang's film, Yi Yi (2000), which was critically acclaimed and won several international awards (including Best Director for Yang at Cannes). Currently, Nien-Jen Wu runs his own production company "Wu's Productions" now, and actively writes, directs, produces and performs in both commercials and television programs. He is an artist of many versatile talents, being a published novelist/author/writer and a well-respected Taiwanese filmmaker.