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Biography #2 (for Chinese Box)

Born in 1966, the daughter of two economics professors at a local university, Gong Li enrolled against her parents wishes in the Beijing Drama Academy and studied there for four years. In her second term she was already working professionally on a TV drama serial and almost missed a chance to audition for the famous cinematographer, Zhang Yimou, who had dropped in to cast a young woman for a leading his first film as a director.

She got the part, of course, in Zhang's Red Sorghum (1987), and was soon linked with the director off-screen as well. Additional roles for Zhang in Jou Dou (1989), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), the first two Chinese films ever nominated for Academy Awards, and later The Story of Qiu Ju (1991), To Live (1994) and Shanghai Triad (1995). She also worked for Zhang's mentor-turned-rival, Chen Kaige, in Farewell My Concubine (1992), for which she was named Best Actress by the New York Film Critic's Circle, and Temptress Moon (1995).

Almost from the beginning Gong Li has also worked steadily in commercial Hong Kong films. Her second major film (in which she co-starred with Zhang) was Ching Sui-tung's rousing fantasy picture, The Terracotta Warrior (1987) She has also appeared in Wong Jing's God of Gamblers III: Back to Shanghai (1991) and Sylvia Chang's Mary From Beijing (1992). In the latter she played a mainland immigrant adrift in modern Hong Kong, a character that prefigures her role as Vivian.

Chinese Box is a Trimark Entertainment release of an NDF International & Pony Canyon, Inc. and Le Studio Canal + presentation, a Wayne Wang Film starring Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, Michael Hui, Maggie Cheung and Ruben Blades, produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and Jean-Louis Piel with a screenplay by Jean-Claude Carrière and Larry Gross from a story by Jean-Claude Carrière, Paul Theroux and Wayne Wang, directed by Wayne Wang.

Bio courtesy Trimark Pictures for "Chinese Box" (10-Apr-2003)


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