Birth Name: Zhang Zi Yi
Birth Date: February 9, 1979
Birth Place: Beijing, China
Height: 5' 5"
Quote: "Even though I've done Hollywood films, I still don't think of myself as a Hollywood actress."
Zhang Ziyi Biography
Ziyi Zhang was born on February 9, 1979, in Beijing, China, and is the daughter of an economist father and a kindergarten teacher. Raised with her older brother in an urban, working-class part of Beijing, Zhang was originally interested in dance and gymnastics. Her entry into the dance world came when she was 11, as she was accepted to a secondary school affiliated with Beijing Dancing College. During the four years that she was trained in dance, she managed to pick up some awards, including one at the National Young Dancer competition.
Even though a career in dance seemed promising for the graceful Zhang, she became frustrated with the art by the time she was 15, and opted to become an actress instead. She enrolled in the Central Drama Academy in Beijing, where she received her dramatic training. Zhang's calling was answered when she auditioned for a shampoo commercial, directed by Zhang Yimou (one of China's most renowned directors). The director of many successful films, including Raise the Red Lantern, Zhang Yimou used the commercial as a way to audition actresses for his upcoming film. Zhang Yimou knew that Zhang was the perfect choice for the part of a young, rural schoolgirl in love with a schoolteacher, and he cast her in the lead role of 1999's The Road Home (also known as Wo de fu qim mu qin). The Road Home won the "Jury Grand Prix" Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival, and was later rereleased by Sony Picture Classics, thanks to Zhang's flourishing success.
When The Road Home was released in China, Zhang was given the nickname "Little Gong Li," in reference to the mega-popular Asian actress, Gong Li. While this may sound flattering, the nickname is not intended to refer to Zhang's potential as the next Gong Li; rather, it refers to the alleged affair that Zhang had with director Zhang Yimou. Gong Li was once considered the director's muse and mistress, but they broke up in 1994. Both Ziyi Zhang and Zhang Yimou have denied the affair.
When Ang Lee was casting actors for his martial arts marvel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (a.k.a. Wo hu cang long), he had famous Taiwanese actress Shu Qi in mind for the role of butt-kicking aristocrat Jen Yu. But after seeing Zhang's performance in The Road Home, he knew she was the one for the role. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became one of the biggest hits of 2000 (and the most popular foreign film in U.S. history at the time), and went on to earn a roaring $130 million at the box office and four Academy Awards. The film's success ensured that Zhang would become a familiar face to filmgoers, as the high-flying, graceful martial artist who shares fight scenes with Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat. Her role also garnered her the Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2000, as well as the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight Scene in 2001.
Zhang Ziyi was cast to play the villain in the summer 2001 sequel to the successful comedy Rush Hour, appearing opposite the comedy duo Chris Tucker and martial arts master Jackie Chan. She was cast in the film without knowing a word of English, and despite having taken English lessons, she speaks strictly Chinese in the film (with subtitles).
Roles have been pouring in for Zhang, most notably in hits like Hero (2002) and House of Flying Daggers (2004). After 2004's Jasmine Women (a.k.a. Mo li hua kai), Zhang starred in the 2005 musical feature, Operetta tanuki goten. She is keeping busy in 2005 with roles in Memoirs of a Geisha and Good Cook, Likes Music.
Zhang Ziyi Filmography
Ye yan (2006) .... Empress Wan
... aka The Banquet (International: English title)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) .... Chiyo/Sayuri
Operetta tanuki goten (2005) .... Tanukihime
... aka Princess Raccoon (Hong Kong: English title) (International: English title) (UK)
Mo li hua kai (2004) .... Young Mo/young Li/young Hua
... aka Blossoming Jasmine (literal English title)
... aka Jasmine Flower (International: English title)
... aka Jasmine Women (International: English title)
2046 (2004) .... Bai Ling
Shi mian mai fu (2004) .... Mei
... aka House of Flying Daggers (Hong Kong: English title) (International: English title) (Singapore: English title) (USA)
Jopog manura 2: Dolaon jeonseol (2003)
... aka My Wife Is a Gangster 2 (International: English title)
Zi hudie (2003) .... Cynthia/Ding Hui
... aka Purple Butterfly (International: English title)
Ying xiong (2002) .... Moon
... aka Hero (USA)
... aka Jet Li's Hero (USA)
... aka Quentin Tarantino Presents Hero (USA: promotional title)
Musa (2001) .... Princess Bu-yong
... aka Musa the Warrior (Canada: English title)
... aka The Warriors (informal English title)
... aka Wu shi (China: Mandarin title)
Shu shan zheng zhuan (2001) .... Joy
... aka The Legend of Zu (Hong Kong: English title)
... aka Zu Warriors (USA)
Rush Hour 2 (2001) .... Hu Li
Wo hu cang long (2000) .... Jen Yu (Mandarin version)/Jiao Long (English dubbed version)
... aka Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (International: English title) (UK) (USA)
... aka Ngo foo chong lung (Hong Kong: Cantonese title)
... aka Wo hu cang long (China: Mandarin title)
Wo de fu qin mu qin (1999) .... Zhao Di, Young
... aka The Road Home (International: English title) (USA: DVD title)
... aka My Father and Mother (literal English title)
Xing xing dian deng (1996) (TV) .... Chen Wei
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