Gong Li at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival
|Chinese name||鞏俐 (traditional)|
|Chinese name||巩俐 (simplified)|
|Pinyin||Gǒng Lì (Mandarin)|
|Ancestry||Jinan, Shandong, China|
31 December 1965 |
Shenyang, Liaoning, China
|Spouse(s)||Ooi Hoe Soeng (1996–2010)|
|Parents||Gong Lize (father)
Liu Ying (mother)
Gong Li (born 31 December 1965) is a Chinese actress. Gong first came into international prominence through close collaboration with Chinese director Zhang Yimou and is credited with helping to 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 was born in Shenyang, China, Liaoning, the youngest in a family of five children. Her father was a professor of economics and her mother 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 a student at the 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 acting 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 many of her early movies, Gong Li represents a tragic victim and an abused soul (physically or emotionally), trying to release herself from an impossible maze of corruption, violence and suppression. In Raise the Red Lantern and Shanghai Triad an additional tragic element is added to her being as she unintentionally becomes the executioner of new innocent victims, making her realize that she has assisted the dark cynical system.
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 the same year, she was awarded with the Berlinale Camera at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.
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 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.
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.
In 2014, Li was a jury president of the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival. In the same year, she reunited with Zhang Yimou for the film Coming Home (2014). It is set during the throes of the Cultural Revolution. The film was their first collaboration since 2006.
Her personal and professional relationship with director Zhang Yimou was highly publicized. The pair collaborated on six films between 1987 and 1995, before ending their relationship. They reunited in 2006 for the film Curse of the Golden Flower and in 2014 on Coming Home.
In 1996, news began circulating that Gong had married Singaporean tobacco tycoon Ooi Hoe Seong. They were married in November 1996 at Hong Kong's China Club. On 28 June 2010, the chief editor of Chinese entertainment magazine Southern Entertainment revealed that Gong's agent confirmed that Gong Li and her husband had divorced.
Gong Li applied for Singapore citizenship in early 2008. When overseas professional obligations prevented her from showing up at her scheduled August citizenship ceremony, she was harshly criticized for not making it a priority. On Saturday, 8 November 2008, Gong, in an effort to make amends, attended a citizenship ceremony held at Teck Ghee Community Club and received her Singapore citizenship certificate from Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah.
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