Zhang Ziyi

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.
Zhang Ziyi
Zhang Ziyi Cabourg 2014 2.jpg
Zhang Ziyi in 2014 at the Cabourg Film Festival.
Chinese name 章子怡
Pinyin Zhāng Zǐyí (Mandarin)
Born (1979-02-09) 9 February 1979 (age 36)
Beijing, China
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 1996–present
Partner(s) Wang Feng
Parents Zhang Yuanxiao (father)
Li Zhousheng (mother)
Official website www.ziyitoday.com

Zhang Ziyi (born 9 February 1979), is a Chinese actress and model. She is considered one of the Four Dan Actresses of China.[1]

Her first major role was in The Road Home (1999). She achieved fame for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), winning the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Female and earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

She then starred in Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2046 (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), earning critical acclaim and receiving a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Early life[edit]

Zhang was born and raised in Beijing, China. Her parents are Zhang Yuanxiao, an accountant and later economist, and Li Zhousheng, a kindergarten teacher.[2][3] She is very close to her older brother, Zhang Zinan (Chinese: 章子男; pinyin: Zhāng Zǐnán; born 1973). Zhang began studying dance when she was 8 years old; subsequently, she joined the Beijing Dance Academy by her parents' suggestion at the age of 11.[4] While at this boarding school, she noticed how mean the other girls were to each other while competing for status amongst the teachers. Zhang disliked the attitudes of her peers and teachers so much that, on one occasion, she ran away from the school.[3] At the age of 15, Zhang won the national youth dance championship and began appearing in television commercials in Hong Kong.[5]

In 1996, Zhang entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama at the age of 17.


Early career (1999-2000)[edit]

In 1998, while she was studying in Central Academy of Drama, she was offered her first role by director Zhang Yimou in his film The Road Home. The film won the Silver Bear prize at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

Gongfu epics and international breakthrough (2000-2006)[edit]

She rose to international fame in 2000 with her role as Jen (Chinese version: Yu Jiao Long) in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she won several awards in the Western world, such as Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her character is a young Manchu noblewoman who has secretly learned martial arts and runs off to become a wandering swordswoman rather than commit to an arranged marriage.

Although she has done many acrobatic fight scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and later movies, Zhang does not actually know Chinese martial arts; rather, she relies on her dancing skills to mimic the Gongfu choreography.[7]

Zhang's first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2.[8] Her character's name is "Hu Li", which is Mandarin Chinese for "Fox".

Zhang then appeared in Hero (2002), directed by her early mentor Zhang Yimou. She plays Moon (Ru Yue), the assistant and student of Broken Sword, played by Tony Leung. The film was commercially successful in the United States and was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

She then signed on to film an avant-garde drama, Purple Butterfly (2003), which competed in the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

Zhang went back to the martial arts genre in House of Flying Daggers (2004), again by Zhang Yimou, where she starred along Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau. She plays the blind dancing girl Mei, who despite the lack of eyesight is a skilled fighter. In preparing for the part, Zhang spent two months living with an actual blind girl. The performance earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She was also 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 two scenes in the film.

In 2046 (2004), directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring many of the best-known Chinese actors and actresses, Zhang was the female lead and 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 Japan's Seijun Suzuki, who was honored at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

She played the lead role of Sayuri in the American film adaptation based on the international bestseller Memoirs of a Geisha, a challenging role as all of her dialogue would be in English. Controversy also arose in Japan and China about having a Chinese woman portray a Japanese geisha. For this film, she was reunited with her 2046 co-star Gong Li and with Crouching Tiger co-star Michelle Yeoh. For the role, Zhang was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

On 27 June 2005, she 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.[9] In May 2006, Zhang was chosen as a jury member of Feature Films at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.[10]

She returned to China for another period drama, The Banquet, in 2006; although this time with less action than her three previous films in the genre.


In 2007, she performed the voice of Karai in the American animated film TMNT (2007), her second performance in English.

In Forever Enthralled (2008), which tells the story of legendary Peking opera actor Mei Lanfang, Zhang appears in the second act as one of the first biologically female Peking opera actresses; before the May Fourth Movement all female characters had been played by men. Her most distinctive trait is that she specializes in portraying elderly male characters, as a parallel to the biologically male Mei Lanfang who specialized in young female characters.

Her next American film was The Horsemen (2009), where she starred opposite Dennis Quaid.

Back in China she played the titular character in the comedy Sophie's Revenge; a comic book artist seeking to punish her unfaithful boyfriend.

As the year 2009 also marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, much of the Chinese film establishment collaborated in making The Founding of a Republic; a patriotic tribute detailing the process of establishing the People's Republic in 1949. Zhang is featured in a small cameo role.

In 2011 she starred along Aaron Kwok in the AIDS-themed film Love for Life.[11]

In 2012, Zhang starred next to Cecilia Cheung and Jang Dong-gun in the Chinese-Korean co-production Dangerous Liaisons, an adaptation of the French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses, narrating Shanghai of the 1930s. Zhang was reportedly paid 20 million RMB (approximately $3.5 million) for the role.[12]

Zhang and Tony Leung at the premiere of The Grandmaster at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival

Return to stardom (2013-present)[edit]

She reunited with Wong Kar-wai and Tony Leung for The Grandmaster (2013), which meant a return to the martial arts genre after 7 years of quieter films. The film was China's submission to the Academy Awards for best foreign-language picture, and once again brought Zhang a number of prestigious awards.

In the same year she reprised the role of Sophie in My Lucky Star, a follow-up to Sophie's Revenge.

That year she was also one of the judges for the first season of The X Factor: China's Strongest Voice,[13] where she mentored the "Boys" category. She also served as a jury member of Un Certain Regard at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[14]

Most recently she starred in John Woo's The Crossing (2014), in which she plays a poor illiterate woman waiting for her soldier lover in 1940's Shanghai.[15]

Ambassadorship and representation[edit]

International Endorsement

Advertising billboard in Hong Kong of Zhang Ziyi fronting Omega SA watches

Asian Area Endorsement

  • Precious Platinum Ambassador[19] since March 2007 – today
  • Garnier Ambassador[20] August 2006 – 2009

Zhang is a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics[21] and a spokesperson for "Care for Children", a foster-home program in China.

Defamation cases[edit]

In 2012, an overseas Chinese website Boxun falsely reported that Zhang Ziyi was paid $100 million to sleep with top Chinese officials. Zhang sued Boxun in a US court for defamation. In December 2013, Boxun settled the case after agreeing to pay an undisclosed amount to Zhang and issue a front page apology.[22] Zhang also won court cases in Hong Kong against Next Media over similar false reports in Apple Daily and Next Magazine.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In the July 2006 issue of Interview magazine, Zhang Ziyi spoke of her movies' contents and being careful about the roles she takes on, especially in Hollywood:

Zhang obtained Hong Kong residency in 2007 through the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme for her contribution to the local film industry.[24] After several screen performances in 2010 and beginning of 2011, in May 2011 Zhang was named ambassador for the ScreenSingapore 2011 film festival, joining American director Oliver Stone.[25]

Zhang is an admirer and collector of the works of the Chinese contemporary artist Shen Jingdong.[26]

Romantic relationships[edit]

Zhang was engaged to Israeli venture capitalist Aviv "Vivi" Nevo between the years 2008 and 2010. Following their break-up she explained:

Zhang began dating CCTV host Sa Beining beginning in 2011,[28] but the two later split.[29]

Zhang is currently engaged to Chinese rock artist Wang Feng. Wang openly spoke of his love for Zhang during his concert in Shanghai in November, 2013.[30] After two years of dating, Wang proposed to Zhang on her 36th birthday.[31]


Year Title Director Role
1996 Touching Starlight
Sun Wenxue Chen Wei
1999 The Road Home
Zhang Yimou Zhao Di
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ang Lee Jen Yu
2001 Rush Hour 2
Brett Ratner Hu Li
2001 The Legend of Zu
Tsui Hark Joy
2001 Musa
Kim Sung-su Princess Bu-yong
2002 Hero
Zhang Yimou Moon
2003 Purple Butterfly
Lou Ye Cynthia
2003 My Wife is a Gangster 2
Jeong Heung Sun Gangster boss (cameo)
2004 2046
Wong Kar Wai Bai Ling
2004 House of Flying Daggers
Zhang Yimou Mei
2004 Jasmine Women
Hou Yong Mo/ Li/ Hua
2005 Princess Raccoon
Seijun Suzuki Princess Tanuki
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha
Rob Marshall Chiyo Sakamoto/Sayuri Nitta
2006 The Banquet
Feng Xiaogang Wan
2007 TMNT
Kevin Munroe Karai
2008 Forever Enthralled
Chen Kaige Meng Xiaodong
2009 Horsemen
Jonas Åkerlund Kristen
2009 Sophie's Revenge
Eva Jin Sophie
2009 The Founding of a Republic
Huang Jianxin Gong Peng (Cameo)
2010 Together
Zhao Liang Herself
2011 Love for Life
Gu Changwei Qinqin
2012 Dangerous Liaisons
Hur Jin-ho Du Fenyu
2013 The Grandmaster
Wong Kar Wai Gong Er
2013 Better and Better
Zhang Yibai Herself (Cameo)
2013 My Lucky Star
Dennie Gordon Sophie
2014 Magic (Short film) Jonas Åkerlund Cecile
2014 The Crossing Part 1
John Woo Yu Zhen
2015 The Crossing Part 2
John Woo Yu Zhen
2015 Where's the Dragon?
Foo Sing-choong
2015 The Wasted Times
Cheng Er
2016 Forever Young
Li Fangfang Wang Minjia
2016 Run for Love

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Film Award Category Result
2000 "The Road Home" Hundred Flowers Awards Best Actress Won
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" British Academy Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Actress[32] Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Best Actress[33] Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
2001 Golden Bauhinia Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actress Nominated
"MTV Movie Awards Breakthrough Female Performance Nominated
Best Fight Won
Teen Choice Awards Film — Choice Breakout Performance Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Young Actress in an International Film Won
2001 "Musa" Asia-Pacific Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2002 "Rush Hour 2" Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Female Butt Kicker Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Nominated
2003 "Hero" Hong Kong Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2004 "House of Flying Daggers" British Academy Film Awards Best Actress Nominated
Huabiao Awards Outstanding Actress[34] Won (tied with Zhao Wei)
Saturn Award Best Actress Nominated
"Mo li hua kai" (Jasmine Women) Golden Rooster Awards Best Actress Won (tied with Zheng Zhenyao)
"2046" Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Best Actress[35] Nominated
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Won
2005 "House of Flying Daggers" MTV Movie Awards Best Fight Nominated
"Memoirs of a Geisha" British Academy Film Awards Best Actress Nominated
Golden Globes Best Actress – Drama Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress – Drama Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
"2046" Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actress Won
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2006 "House of Flying Daggers" Hundred Flowers Awards Best Actress Nominated
"Memoirs of a Geisha" NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Sexiest Performance Nominated
2007 "The Banquet" Asian Film Awards Best Actress Nominated
Asia-Pacific Film Festival Best Actress Nominated
2009 "Forever Enthralled" Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Best Supporting Actress[36] Nominated
Golden Rooster Awards Best Actress Nominated
Huabiao Awards Outstanding Actress[37] Won (tied with Fan Zhibo)
2013 "The Grandmaster" Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actress[38] Won
Asia-Pacific Film Festival Best Actress Won
Asian Film Awards Best Actress Won
Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Best Actress Won
Golden Rooster Awards Best Actress Nominated
Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actress Won
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Won
Huabiao Awards Outstanding Actress Won
Hundred Flowers Awards Best Actress Won

Other honors[edit]

In 2008, she was awarded with the "Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema" at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival.[39]

Magazine recognition[edit]

  • Ranked 2nd of the 100 Sexiest Women by FHM Taiwan (2001).
  • Named one of the 25 Hottest Stars Under 25 by Teen People Magazine (2001).
  • Named one of the 25 Hottest Stars Under 25 by Teen People Magazine (2002).
  • Ranked No. 91 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002)
  • Voted in at No. 100 in FHM's "Sexiest 100 Girls of 2002", UK edition. [June 2002]
  • Ranked in the top 5 of "Forbes China Celebrity 100" list every year from 2004 to 2010.
  • Named by Entertainment Weekly in their 'The Must List' 2005. Listed 38th out of the 122 people and things the magazine "loves" this year, Ziyi was the only Chinese to be included.
  • Selected by Southern People Weekly magazine as "Chinese Top Ten Leaders of the Younger Generation" in 2005.
  • Listed in People's "50 Most Beautiful People" List in 2005.
  • Listed in TIME's World's 100 Most Influential People. They called her "China's Gift to Hollywood".
  • Ranked one of the '100 Most Beautiful Women in the World' in the July 2005 issue of Harpers & Queen magazine. It was her first time on the list. She was ranked number 15.
  • Included in People's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World the second year in a row in 2006. This is now her third appearance on the list.
  • Voted in at No. 86 in FHM's sexiest women in the world in 2006. She had not appeared in the list since 2002.
  • Topped Japanese Playboy's "100 Sexiest Women in Asia" list and was featured on the cover. (April 2006)[40]
  • Voted No. 1 in E!'s "Sexiest Action Stars" list in summer 2007.
  • Ranked No. 3 in Japanese magazine Classy's "Super Perfect Head-to-Body Size Ratio List" in January 2009.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Four Promising Actress Four Young Chinese Stars
  2. ^ "In the mood for oriental siren Zhang Ziyi". China Daily. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "She Makes Magic" TIMEasia.com 11 December 2000. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  4. ^ "Zhang Ziyi, The One that Loves You Most Is Me". Hao Rizi Magazine. March 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Ziyi Zhang Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Yahoo!. 11 May 2010.
  6. ^ "Award for The Road Home" retrieved 30 April 2013
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0955471/bio
  8. ^ Happy birthday, Zhang Ziyi!. 10 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Academy Invites 112 to Membership" Oscars. 24 June 2005. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  10. ^ "THE Juries 2006". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 28 May 2006. 
  11. ^ "AIDS-themed film starring Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok will open on May 10". Asia Pacific Arts. 03/07/2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ 《危险关系》开机,章子怡和张柏芝不想谈片酬 – Production of 'Liaisons' begins, Zhang Ziyi and Cecilia Cheung refuse to discuss their salaries (bilingual), Thinking Chinese, 28 September 2011
  13. ^ "Zhang Ziyi to be a judge on China X Factor". asiaone.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Juries 2013". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Zhang Ziyi in John Woo's new movie". entertainment.yahoo.com. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Omega Watches Ambassador" retrieved 1 May 2013
  17. ^ "Visa International" retrieved 1 May 2013
  18. ^ "Maybelline" retrieved 1 May 2013
  19. ^ "Precious Platinum" retrieved 1 May 2013
  20. ^ "Garnier" retrieved 1 May 2013
  21. ^ "Special Olympics" retrieved 1 May 2013
  22. ^ a b "China's Zhang Ziyi wins sex claims case against Boxun". BBC. 18 December 2013. 
  23. ^ "Ziyi" Interview. July 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  24. ^ "Report: Zhang Ziyi now Hong Kong resident". News.xinhuanet.com. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  25. ^ Actress Zhang Ziyi named ambassador for ScreenSingapore 2011, What's on Ningbo, 26 May 2011
  26. ^ http://hk.asiatatler.com/culture-lifestyle/arts/shen-jing-dong-colours-the-sar
  27. ^ Dummy (11 June 2011). "Zhang Ziyi on Vivi Nevo". TheAsianActress.Com. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  28. ^ 撒贝宁被曝主动邀章子怡上央视 两人恋情早已公开 (in Chinese). 凤凰网. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  29. ^ "撒贝宁回应与章子怡分手原因 首度公开择偶标准". 
  30. ^ http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2013-11/12/content_30575721.htm
  31. ^ http://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/entertainment/20150209/00282_001.html
  32. ^ "Chicago Film Critics Awards – 1998–2007". Chicago Film Critics Association. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  33. ^ (Chinese) Golden Horse Awards official homepage 37th Golden Horse awards winners and nominees list Retrieved 22 May 2013
  34. ^ (Chinese)11th Huabiao Awards winners list Retrieved 22 May 2013
  35. ^ (Chinese) Golden Horse Awards official homepage 41st Golden Horse awards winners and nominees list Retrieved 22 May 2013
  36. ^ (Chinese) Golden Horse Awards official homepage 46th Golden Horse awards winners and nominees list Retrieved 22 May 2013
  37. ^ (Chinese)13th Huabiao Awards winners list Retrieved 22 May 2013
  38. ^ "Winners announced at the 7th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards". Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 12 December 2013. 
  39. ^ (Chinese)Zhang Ziyi received "Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema" Retrieved 22 May 2013
  40. ^ "Ziyi poses for Playboy" China Daily. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2009.

External links[edit]