Zhang Ziyi (born February 9, 1979) is a Chinese actress.
Zhang Ziyi is one of the most well-known Chinese actresses working
today, with a string of international hits to her name. She has
worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong
Kar-Wai and Rob Marshall.
Of the characters making up her name, Zhang is her surname and
can be literally translated as an essay or a chapter of a book,
Zi means child or esteemed person, and Yí means joy or happiness.
Her name is sometimes represented in the Western order (Ziyi Zhang).
Born in Beijing in the People's Republic of China, Zhang joined
the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11, and at 15 she entered
China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama.
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 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. She went on to make Hero 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 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 East Asia's best-known actresses, Zhang won the Hong Kong Film
Critics' Best Actress Award and the Hong Kong Film Academy's Best
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 (???, 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. Her formal welcome to AMPAS occurred in Beverly Hills, California
on 21 September of 2005.
Zhang has been taking English lessons. She stated in a 2003 interview
that she had started them after she began receiving more and more
fan mail from the United States. (One of the supplementary documentaries
on the American Hero DVD features Zhang speaking in English, and her
dialogue in Memoirs of a Geisha is almost entirely in English.)
As part of a self-taught crash course in the language prior to
filming Geisha, Zhang listened to and repeated words and phrases
she heard on television commercials and music CDs. One of the English-language
recording artists she was listening to during this time was Eminem,
which apparently led to some embarrassing moments for the actress:
"I don't always know what [Eminem] is talking about, so I write
down the lyrics and repeat them. Later, I understood how rude they
The Banquet (2006)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Princess Raccoon (2005)
Jasmine Women (2004)
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Purple Butterfly (2003)
My Wife is a Gangster 2 (2003)
The Legend of Zu (2001)
Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The Road Home (1999)
Touching Starlight (1996)
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