Zhang Ziyi (章子怡; pinyin: Zhāng Zǐyí) (born
February 9, 1979 in Beijing, China) is one of the most well-known
Chinese film actresses working today, with a string of Chinese and
international hits to her name. She has worked with renowned directors
such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Seijun Suzuki and Rob
Born in Beijing, China, Zhang joined the
Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11, and at 15 she entered China's
prestigious Central Academy of Drama (regarded as the top acting college
When her parents suggested she go to the dance academy, Zhang was
skeptical. While at the boarding school, she noticed how catty the other
girls were while competing for status amongst the teachers. She would
cry each night and morning, and on one occasion, ran away from the
At the age of 19, she was offered her first
role in world renowned director Zhang Yimou's The Road Home, which won
the Silver Bear award in the 2000 Berlin Film Festival. Zhang further
rose to fame due to her role as the headstrong Jen in the phenomenally
successful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she won the
Independent Spirit's Best Supporting Actress Award and the Toronto Film
Critics' Best Supporting Actress Award.
Her first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2, but as she
didn't speak English at the time, Jackie
Chan had to translate everything the director said to her. In
that movie, her character's name, "Hu Li" translated from Mandarin
Chinese is "Fox".
After this she went on to make Hero with her early mentor Zhang Yimou,
which was a huge success in the English-speaking world and an Oscar and
a Golden Globe contender. Her next film was the avant-garde drama Purple
Butterfly by Lou Zhe which competed at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
She went back to the martial arts genre with House of Flying Daggers,
which earned her a Best Actress nomination from the British Academy of
Film and Television Arts.
For her next drama 2046, directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring many of the
best-known Chinese actresses (from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland),
Zhang as the female lead 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 82-year-old Japanese legend Seijun Suzuki
who was honored at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. She plays the leading
role of Sayuri in the adaptation of the international bestseller Memoirs
of a Geisha, with her Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-star
Michelle Yeoh, as well as Gong Li and
Ken Watanabe. The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by
Rob Marshall, and released in December 2005. Zhang has received a Best
Actress - Drama Golden Globe nomination for her role.
Zhang has also been known to sing, and was 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 a scene in the film.
On 27 June, 2005 it was announced that Zhang had 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.
In May 2006, Zhang became the youngest member to sit on the jury of the
Cannes Film Festival.
In the fall of 2006, Zhang' most recent film was released, a new drama
set in the Tang Dynasty of China called The Banquet (Yè Yàn 夜宴).
Most recently she provided the voice of Karai in the TMNT movie that was
released on March 23, 2007. She has recently finished filming a movie
called Horsemen with Dennis Quaid.
Zhang Ziyi Movies -
Zhang Ziyi Movies - VHS