Zhang Ziyi:"Chinese women are much more modest than American women when it comes to clothes. We tend to show less flesh." -Zhang Ziyi
Zhang Ziyi (born February 9, 1979 in Beijing, China) is one of the most well-known Chinese film actresses working today, with a string of Chinese and international hits to her name. She has worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Seijun Suzuki and Rob Marshall.
Born in Beijing, China, Zhang joined the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11, and at 15 she entered China’s prestigious Central Academy of Drama (regarded as the top acting college in China).
When her parents suggested she go to the dance academy, Zhang was skeptical. While at the boarding school, she noticed how catty the other girls were while competing for status amongst the teachers. She would cry each night and morning, and on one occasion, ran away from the school.
Zhang Ziyi in Musa.
At the age of 19, she was offered her first role in world renowned director Zhang Yimou’s The Road Home, which won the Silver Bear award in the 2000 Berlin Film Festival. Zhang further rose to fame due to her role as the headstrong Jen in the phenomenally successful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she won the Independent Spirit’s Best Supporting Actress Award and the Toronto Film Critics’ Best Supporting Actress Award.
Her first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2, but as she didn’t speak English at the time, Jackie Chan had to translate everything the director said to her. In that movie, her character’s name, "Hu Li" translated from Mandarin Chinese is "Fox".
After this she went on to make Hero with her early mentor Zhang Yimou, which was a huge success in the English-speaking world and an Oscar and a Golden Globe contender. Her next film was the avant-garde drama Purple Butterfly by Lou Zhe which competed at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. She went back to the martial arts genre with House of Flying Daggers, which earned her a Best Actress nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
For her next drama 2046, directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring many of the best-known Chinese actresses (from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland), Zhang as the female lead won the Hong Kong Film Critics’ Best Actress Award and the Hong Kong Film Academy’s Best Actress Award.
Showing her whimsical musical tap-dancing side, Zhang starred in Princess Raccoon directed by 82-year-old Japanese legend Seijun Suzuki who was honored at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. She plays the leading role of Sayuri in the adaptation of the international bestseller Memoirs of a Geisha, with her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-star Michelle Yeoh, as well as Gong Li and Ken Watanabe. The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Rob Marshall, and released in December 2005. Zhang has received a Best Actress - Drama Golden Globe nomination for her role.
Zhang has also been known to sing, and was featured on the House Of Flying Daggers Soundtrack with her own musical rendition of the ancient Chinese poem Jia Rén Qu (佳人曲, The Beauty Song). The song was also featured in a scene in the film.
On 27 June, 2005 it was announced that Zhang had accepted an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), placing her among the ranks of those able to vote on the Academy Awards.
In May 2006, Zhang became the youngest member to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival.
In the fall of 2006, Zhang’ most recent film was released, a new drama set in the Tang Dynasty of China called The Banquet .
Most recently she provided the voice of Karai in the TMNT movie that was released on March 23, 2007. She has recently finished filming a movie called Horsemen with Dennis Quaid.
Zhang Ziyi is the face of Maybelline, Garnier and Shangri-la Hotel and Resort Group. She is also a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics and a spokesperson for Care for Children, a foster-home program in China.
Soon after her debut in Zhang Yimou’s The Road Home, rumours arose regarding a possible affair between the actress and the older director. Zhang Yimou was previously involved in an extra-marital affair with actress Gong Li, whom he similarly debuted and with whom Zhang Ziyi was quickly compared. However, a relationship between the two remains unconfirmed.
Hong Kong and Taiwanese media have often pushed at ties between Zhang Ziyi and co-star Jackie Chan.This was fuelled in part by photos that emerged of the pair during celebrations of Chan’s birthday on the set of Rush Hour 2.
Zhang Ziyi for a while was publicly linked with Fok Kai-shan, grandson of Hong Kong business tycoon Henry Fok.Although Zhang Ziyi does not like to talk in public about her private life, in 2006 she stated in an interview that she had found love but did not offer a name.When quizzed in early 2007 if she was happy by Phoenix TV, she stated in the interview: "Yes, very much so … I’m doing the things I enjoy."
In January 2007, Zhang Ziyi was spotted holding hands and kissing with her new partner at a New York basketball game. The man was identified as 41-year-old, Israeli multi-millionaire, venture capitalist Vivi Nevo. The two were again seen together at an Oscar party in Los Angeles.Nevo, who has previously been tied to model Kate Moss, is a major shareholder in Time Warner and an early backer of The Weinstein Company with whom Zhang Ziyi is purported to have a multi-film deal.
* Touching Starlight (1996) … Chen Wei
* The Road Home (1999) … Young Zhao Di
* Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) … Jen Yu
* Rush Hour 2 (2001) … Hu Li
* The Legend of Zu (2001) … Joy
* Musa (2001) … Princess Bu-yong
* Hero (2002) … Moon
* Purple Butterfly (2003) … Cynthia/Ding Hui
* My Wife is a Gangster 2 (2003) … Gangster boss
* 2046 (2004) … Bai Ling
* House of Flying Daggers (2004) … Mei
* Jasmine Women (2004) … Young Mo/Young Li/Young Hua
* Princess Raccoon (2005) … Princess Tanuki
* Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) … Nitta Sayuri/Chiyo
* The Banquet (2006) … Wan
* TMNT (2007) … Karai
* The Horsemen (2007) … Kristen