JOAN CHEN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Joan Chen                                                                           
Born: 26 April 1961 Shanghai, China                                                       
Joan Chen (born April 26, 1961) is a Chinese American actress, film director,             
screenwriter and film producer, best known for her roles in The Last Emperor,             
Twin Peaks, Red Rose, White Rose, Saving Face, and for directing the feature               
film Autumn in New York and Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl.                                   
She was born Chen Chong in Shanghai, China into a family of doctors (her                   
grandparents were educated at Oxford and her parents were trained at Harvard).             
She grew up during the Cultural Revolution. At age 14, Chen was discovered on             
the school rifle range by Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing, as she was excelling at           
marksmanship. This led her to be selected for the Actors' Training Program by             
the Shanghai Film Studio in 1975, where she was discovered by veteran director             
Xie Jin who chose her to star in his 1977 film Youth as a deaf                             
mute whose senses are restored by an Army medical team. She soon enrolled in the           
prestigious Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages, at age 17 (one year before           
one could go), where she majored in English.                                               
Chen Chong first became famous in China for her performance in Zhang Zheng's               
Little Flower in 1979 for which she won the                                               
Hundred Flowers Award, in which she played                                                 
a revolutionary's daughter in pre-Maoist China, who falls in love with the                 
wounded soldier whom she and her mother care for. Little Flower was her second             
film and Chen soon hit the status of China's most loved actress, which earned             
her to be dubbed "the Elizabeth Taylor of China" by Time magazine, for having             
achieved stardom while still a teenager. In addition, Chen is famous in China             
for her role in the 1979 film Hearts for the Motherland                                   
which depicts an overseas Chinese family that returns to China from southeast             
Asia out of their patriotic feelings but encounter political troubles during the           
Cultural Revolution. The songs, I Love You, China and High Flies the                       
Petrel, sung by Chen's character, are perennial favorites in China.                       
At age twenty, Chen moved to the United States where she studied filmmaking at             
California State University, Northridge. In 1989, she became a naturalized                 
citizen of the United States.                                                             
Her first Hollywood movie was Tai-Pan, filmed on location in China. She went on           
to star in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor in 1987 and the David Lynch/Mark         
Frost television series Twin Peaks. In 1993 she co-starred in Oliver Stone's               
Heaven & Earth. She portrayed two different characters in Clara Law's Temptation           
of a Monk: a seductive princess of Tang                                                   
dynasty, and a dangerous temptress. The award-winning film was adapted from a             
novel by Lilian Lee. In 1994 she came back in Shanghai to star in critically               
acclaimed Stanley Kwan's Red Rose, White Rose opposite Winston                             
Chao and Veronica Yip. In 1995, Chen made what has become perhaps her best known           
film; "Wild Side" for HBO. The movie has become something of a cult classic due           
mainly to her graphic lesbian love scenes with co-star Anne Heche. Tired of               
being cast as an exotic beauty in Hollywood films, Chen moved into directing in           
1998 with the critically acclaimed Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl,                           
adapted from the novella Heavenly Bath by her friend Yan                                   
Geling. She later directed Autumn in New York in 2000.                                     
Chen made a comeback in 2004 when she starred in Jasmine Women                             
and in Asian American independent film Saving Face. She                                   
then appeared in the Asian American independent film Americanese.                         
Chen will appear in 7 films whose release is scheduled for 2007 and 2008:                 
Singapore film The Leap Years (based upon a novel by Catherine Lim and starring           
Wong Li-Lin, Ananda Everingham and Qi Yuwu), Australian film The Home Song                 
Stories (directed by Tony Ayres, again co-starring Qi Yuwu), American films               
Michael Almereyda's Tonight at Noon (along with Ethan Hawke and Rutger Hauer)             
and All God's Children Can Dance (opposite Tzi Ma), Chinese film Jiang Wen's The           
Sun Also Rises (opposite Jaycee Chan and Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), and Chinese             
American film Ang Lee's Lust, Caution (along with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai).