Date of Birth:
December 31, 1965
168 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Talk about Gong Li
Gong Li (born December 31, 1965, in Liaoning) is a Chinese film actress. She first came into international prominence through close collaboration with Chinese director Zhang Yimou and is credited with helping bring Chinese cinema to Europe and the United States. She has twice been awarded the Golden Rooster and the Hundred Flowers Awards, as well as the Berlinale Camera, Cannes Festival Trophy, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Award, and Volpi Cup. Gong Li married Singaporean businessman Ooi Hoe Soeng in 1996, and became a Singaporean citizen in 2008.
Gong Li was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, the youngest in a family of five children. Her father was a professor of economics and her mother, who was 40 when Gong was born, was a teacher. Gong grew up in Jinan, the capital of Shandong.
In 1985, Gong sought to study at China's top music school, but was denied entrance. Later that same year, she was accepted to the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing and graduated in 1989. While as a student at Central Academy of Drama, she was discovered by Zhang Yimou, who chose her for the lead role in Red Sorghum, his first film as a director.
Over the next several years after her 1987 debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films: She appeared in Ju Dou in 1990; Her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern put her in the international spotlight; In The Story of Qiu Ju, she was named Best Actress at the 1992 Venice Film Festival. These roles established her reputation, according to Asiaweek, as "one of the world's most glamorous movie stars and an elegant throwback to Hollywood's golden era."
In June 1998, Gong Li became a recipient of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Two years later, she was invited by the Berlin Film Festival to be the president of its international jury at the festival's 50th anniversary (2001 February)
In 1993 she received a New York Film Critics Circle award for her role in Farewell My Concubine. Directed by Chen Kaige, the film was her first major role with a director other than Zhang Yimou. In 2006, Premiere Magazine ranked her performance in Farewell My Concubine as the 89th greatest performances of all time.
Gong Li was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 16 October 2000.
Immune to political repercussions because of her fame, Gong Li began criticizing the censorship policy in China. Her films Farewell My Concubine and The Story of Qiu Ju were initially banned in China for being thinly-veiled critiques of the Chinese government. Regarding the sexual content in Ju Dou, Chinese censorship deemed the film "a bad influence on the physical and spiritual health of young people."
Despite her popularity, Gong avoided Hollywood for years, due to a lack of confidence in speaking English. She made her English speaking debut in 2005 when she starred as the beautiful but vindictive Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha. Her performance was met with generally positive reviews.
Her other English-language roles to date included Chinese Box in 1997, Miami Vice in 2006 and Hannibal Rising in 2007. In all three films, she learned her English lines phonetically. In 2010, She stated that she was becoming more selective with the Chinese language projects offered to her during a press junket for her upcoming film 'Shanghai'.
She narrated "Beijing" (2008), an audio walking tour by Louis Vuitton and Soundwalk, which won an Audie Award for best Original Work (2009).
In 2010, she starred in the World War Two-era thriller 'Shanghai' about an American man, Paul Soames (played by John Cusack) who returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai four months before Pearl Harbor and discovers his friend has been killed. In this film, Gong plays Anna Lan-Ting, the wife of triad boss Anthony Lan-Ting (played by Chow Yun-fat). Ken Watanabe co-stars as Japanese military intelligence officer Captain Tanaka.