Gong Li at 2011 Cannes Film Festival
|Chinese name||鞏俐 (traditional)|
|Chinese name||巩俐 (simplified)|
|Pinyin||Gǒng Lì (Mandarin)|
31 December 1965 |
Shenyang, Liaoning, China
|Spouse(s)||Ooi Hoe Soeng (1996–2010)|
|Parents||Gong Lize (father)
Liu Ying (mother)
|Ancestry||Jinan, Shandong, China|
Gong Li (born 31 December 1965) is a Singaporean-Chinese actress. She first came to international prominence through her close collaborations with Chinese director Zhang Yimou and won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at Venice for her performance in his 1992 film The Story of Qiu Ju. She is credited with helping to bring Chinese cinema to Europe and the United States. In 2008, she became a naturalized citizen of Singapore.
Gong won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for Farewell My Concubine (1993) and the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). She has also twice been awarded the Golden Rooster and the Hundred Flowers Awards, as well as the Berlinale Camera, and the Cannes Festival Trophy. Her other film appearances include Ju Dou (1990), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), 2046 (2004), and Miami Vice (2006).
Gong Li was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, 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, 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 several years following her 1987 acting debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films. She starred in Ju Dou in 1990; her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern (1991) put her in the international spotlight; she was named Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in The Story of Qiu Ju (1992). 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 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 (1995) 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 1993, she received a New York Film Critics Circle award for her role in Farewell My Concubine (1993). 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. Premiere magazine ranked her performance in Farewell My Concubine as the 89th greatest performance of all time. She also worked with renowned director Stephen Chow in comedy films God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai (1991) and Flirting Scholar (1993)
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."
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).
Gong won her second international Best Actress trophy for her performance as a struggling single mother in Breaking the Silence (2000) at the Montreal Film Festival, directed by Sun Zhou. She was invited to head the Venice Film Festival in 2002.
In the early 2000s, Gong also starred in two films directed by Wong Kar-wai, namely 2046 and Eros (both in 2004). She attended the Cannes Film Festival that year, where she was awarded the Festival Trophy for her contributions to film.
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 Miami Vice in 2006 and Hannibal Rising in 2007. In all three films, she learned her English lines phonetically.
She worked again with Zhang Yimou for historical epic Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). Time named her performance as the Empress as the 7th greatest performance of the year.
In 2010, Gong starred in the World War II-era thriller Shanghai as a spy who disguises as the wife of a triad boss (played by Chow Yun-fat). She turned to documentaries and photographs about World War II, besides taking dancing classes three times a week, to ensure an accurate portrayal of the character. During a press junket for the film, she stated that she was becoming more selective with the Chinese language projects offered to her.
In 2014, Gong 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, which 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.
Gong 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.
|1989||The Empress Dowager
|A Terracotta Warrior
|1991||God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai
|Raise the Red Lantern
|Waitress at banquet|
|1992||The Story of Qiu Ju
|Mary from Beijing
|1993||Farewell My Concubine
|1994||Dragon Chronicles: The Maidens of Heavenly Mountain
|A Soul Haunted by Painting
|The Great Conqueror's Concubine
|1998||The Emperor and the Assassin
|2000||Breaking the Silence
|2002||Zhou Yu's Train
|2004||2046||Su Li Zhen|
|2005||Memoirs of a Geisha
|Curse of the Golden Flower
|Lady Murasaki Shikibu Lecter|
|2011||What Women Want
|2016||The Monkey King 2
|White Bone Demon|
Awards and nominations
- 1997 - 50th Cannes Film Festival
- 2000 - 50th Berlin Film Festival
- 2002 - 59th Venice Film Festival
- 2003 - 16th Tokyo International Film Festival
- 2014 - 17th Shanghai International Film Festival
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- "Gong Li". Food and Agriculture Organization. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
- "Gong Li voted China's Most Beautiful Person". China Daily. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
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- "Gong Li becomes a Singaporean". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2015 – via AsiaOne.
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