8 Things you probably didn't know about beautiful Chinese actress Gong Li, star of What Women Want
You have seen Gong Li's fabulous Chinese-themed gown that rivaled Fan Bingbing's at the recent Met Gala. Many readers were surprised that Gong Li is 49 years old. Now read up on more interesting facts that you might not already know about this famous Chinese actress who has shined in cinema for many years and won numerous hearts for her work, including this weekend's DramaFever Movie Night movie What Women Want.
1. Gong Li is 49 and will turn 50 on December 31 this year, but Microsoft's age-detecting website says she looks only 29, based on her photo (I picked an "old looking" photo from a CNN article.) It's no wonder because she has been a reigning beauty in Chinese cinema ever since her 1987 acting debut in the movie Red Sorghum. She was voted the most beautiful woman in China in 2006. (The cover photo you see is from the 2006 film, Curse of the Golden Flower.)
2. Gong Li was born in Shenyang, Liaoning province and grew up in the Shandong province of China. Gong is her family name. She was the youngest of her parents' 5 children. Her mother, a teacher, was 40 when Gong Li was born. Her father was a professor of economics.
3. Although she is often seen in glittering glamour on the red carpet, she rose to fame playing realistic roles that portrayed women who lived in a harsh environment or were burdened with a difficult life. In June 1998, Gong Li became a recipient of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the fields of arts and literature.
- In the 1990 period-drama film Ju Dou, Gong Li played the beautiful young woman Ju Dou, who was sold as a wife to an old cloth dyer. The film was the first Chinese film nominated for an Academy Award.
- For playing a peasant woman who fought bureaucratic injustice in the 1992 film The Story of Qiu Ju, she won Best Actress at the 1992 Venice Film Festival and at China's Golden Rooster Award. The film was initially banned in China because it was considered critical of the government.
- The 2000 film Breaking the Silence won her multiple Best Actress Awards. She played a single mother who struggled to raise her deaf child.
4. In 2006, Premiere magazine ranked her performance in Farewell My Concubine (1993) as the 89th greatest performance of all time.
5. Despite her popularity as a top actress, Gong Li avoided Hollywood for years, reportedly due to a lack of confidence in speaking English. She made her English-speaking debut in 2005 when she starred as strong-tempered geisha Hatsumomo who met a tragic end in Memoirs of a Geisha.
6. She made 7 films with famous director Zhang Yimou, with whom she also had a personal relationship for 8 years until 1995. They reunited professionally in 2006 to film Curse of the Golden Flower, and again for the 2014 Coming Home, a period drama set in the tumultuous times during China's Cultural Revolution. The film will be released in the US during 2015.
7. She became a citizen of Singapore in 2008. She married a Singaporean businessman in 1996, but it was reported that they divorced sometime before 2010. Here she is with her new certificate of citizenship with a member of Singaporean parliament:
8. She has never taken on a TV project. You can only find her in movies. One of her few romantic comedies, What Women Want, with handsome Hong Kong superstar, Andy Lau, will be shown this weekend on DramaFever.
I look forward to watching What Women Want this weekend. How about you?
(Photo credit as referenced or tagged)