Jonathan Kos-Read

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Jonathan Kos-Read
Born1973 (age 45–46)
ResidencePeople's Republic of China
Home townCalifornia, U.S.

Jonathan Kos-Read (born 1973), also known as Cao Cao (Chinese: 曹操; pinyin: Cáo Cāo), is an American film and television actor based in the People's Republic of China. While well known in China, his work is little-known in the United States. Kos-Read uses the stage name Cao Cao, which is also the name of the penultimate chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a historical figure well-known to most Chinese people.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Kos-Read was born in Torrance, California, in 1973.[2] He attended the film and acting schools of New York University, but completed his university career there studying molecular biology.[2][3] Kos-Read began studying Mandarin Chinese at New York University, and re-located to China in 1997.[2] His first acting role was in 1999.[2]


Kos-Read's roles have included: My Fair Gentleman (2009) (co-starring Kelly Lin and Sun Honglei), Empire of Silver (2009, also starring Aaron Kwok and Jennifer Tilly), and Fit Lover (2008, also starring Nie Bing). Kos-Read has also been featured on Here Comes Cao Cao, a reality program about his life broadcast on Beijing Television.[2][4] The title of the show was a reference to the Chinese proverb "Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao will be there" ("说曹操曹操就到"), roughly equivalent to the English saying, "Speak of the devil."[5] He has starred in more than 75 productions.[6] As a caucasian who is fully fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Kos-Read frequently appears as the foreign love interest or villain, in roles that sometimes present stereotypical images of non-Chinese people.[2][6] In 2009, he also appeared on stage with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in a Mandarin-language version of the orchestra's multi-media concert piece "The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres," in performances in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.[7] At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Kos-Read was one of those chosen to carry the Olympic torch on its way to the Olympic Stadium.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Kos-Read is married to a Chinese citizen, Li Zhiyin, with whom he has two daughters, Roxanne and Persephone.[9]


  1. ^ "Jiang Wen plays Cao Cao in new film". People's Daily Online. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Stack, Megan K. (16 January 2011). "Cultural Exchange: Jonathan Kos-Read is 'the token white guy' in Chinese cinema". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  3. ^ "In China, fame comes easier with a foreign face". China Daily. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Cao Cao's Lovin' It". China Internet Information Center. 12 January 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  5. ^ Lorenzi, Rosella (28 December 2009). "Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao arrives". Discovery News. Retrieved 15 January 2001.
  6. ^ a b Jiang Xueqing (7 April 2010). "Strange Stereotypes". Global Times. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Tafelmusik to Tour Asia with Mandarin version of The Galileo Project". Classissima. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  8. ^ 联想外籍火炬手传情荆州:让世界了解中国 [Lenovo foreign torchbearer in Jingzhou: Let the world know China]. ZDNet News (in Chinese). 4 June 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  9. ^

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