Chinese name: 巩俐
Born: December 31, 1965
From: Shenyang, China
Worked with Ziyi: 2 times
Gong Li was born in Shenyang, China, Liaoning, the youngest in a family of five children. Her father was a professor of economics and her mother, who was 40 when Gong was born, was a teacher. Gong grew up in Jinan, the capital of Shandong.
In 1985, Gong sought to study at China’s top music school, but was denied entrance. Later that same year, 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 next several years after her 1987 debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films: She appeared in Ju Dou in 1990; Her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern put her in the international spotlight; In The Story of Qiu Ju, she was named Best Actress at the 1992 Venice Film Festival. 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 Li 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 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 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. In 1993, she received a New York Film Critics Circle award for her role in Farewell My Concubine. 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.
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 Chinese Box in 1997, Miami Vice in 2006 and Hannibal Rising in 2007. In all three films, she learned her English lines phonetically. In 2010, she stated that she was becoming more selective with the Chinese language projects offered to her during a press junket for her upcoming film Shanghai.
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. —Wiki
♦ They first met during the Berlin Film Festival in 2000 when Zhang Yimou was presenting The Road Home in competition.
♦ During the filming of Memoirs of a Geisha, Some rumors surfaced saying the Ziyi, Gong Li and Michelle had a tense relationship during the filming. Michelle said it’s impossible, all the cast members were like a family and she had great time with them. She said she often did dining, dance and Karaoke with the others. Reporters further asked whether Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi were hanging out with her. She said Zhang Ziyi was too busy and barely had enough time to sleep. —Michelleyeoh.info
♦ Gong Li and Ziyi were both considered to star in John Woo’s Red Cliff.
♦ On early stages of the production of The Grandmaster, Gong Li was rumored to play the part Ziyi was offered. After that, Brigitte Lin also declined the offer.
♦ While both actresses were in Cannes in 2014, They both expressed to work together again in the future. During a Louis Vuitton fashion show at the film festival Gong Li and Ziyi seemed quite happy to be reunited, holding hands and hugging each other.