Fan Bingbing may be best known to American audiences as Blink in X:Men: Days of Future Past, but she has a much longer career in her native China. Bingbing is considered the country’s “biggest movie star” and has over sixty-two million followers on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Here are fantastic facts about Fan Bingbing.
Fan Bingbing Facts
1. It Hit The Fan...
Bingbing recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons after admitting to tax evasion. The Chinese government ordered her to pay them $130 million in back-taxes. Bingbing admitted that she underreported her earnings for years through “yin and yang” contracts, where she reported one amount so she could receive a higher amount.
Since then, brands like Montblanc and Vitamin Water ended their endorsements with Bingbing. Some of her upcoming film projects have been delayed.
2. Top 10
Bingbing isn’t among this year’s highest paid actresses, and the tax evasion payments likely don’t help. However, she the fourth-highest-earning actress in 2015, beat only by Scarlett Johansson, Melissa McCarthy, and Jennifer Lawrence. Bingbing was also the only Chinese actress on Forbes’ 2016 list.
Bingbing’s last public appearance (before resurfacing to admit to tax evasion) was at a children’s hospital.
4. For Richer, Or For...Less Rich
Rumours arose that Bingbing and her fiancé, Li Chen, were parting due to the tax evasion scandal. Photographers spotted Chen without his engagement ring in August, leading some fans to think the couple were over. However, Chen returned to Weibo on October 5 to say, “No matter how difficult it may be, we will get through this together.” After all, how would a multimillionaire survive without her fiancé?
Bingbing dabbles in singing and released an album titled Just Begun in 2005. Details on the album’s success are sparse, although one source described it as a “super hit” in China. Although Bingbing hasn’t released another album since, she occasionally releases singles and performed the theme song for Chinese film, One Night Surprise.
6. Record Breaker
Bingbing’s 2013 Cannes getup didn’t feature any of the Asian touches her fans were used to, but she still made history with a custom Louis Vuitton dress. Bingbing became the first Asian actress to have a Vuitton dress made specifically for her.
7. Humble Debut
Bingbing’s first acting role came when she was 16. She appeared on a Chinese TV drama, My Fair Princess, as a maid. Apparently, Bingbing isn’t too fond of this role, since she doesn’t like being reminded of it. However she feels about it, the show was wildly successful in China. In fact, it's still rebroadcast every summer.
8. Well Said
Bingbing credits some of her success to fortuitous timing. She was born in 1981, during a period of increasing economic liberalization in China. Leader Deng Xiaping ushered in an open market that allowed Bingbing more opportunity. In her words, “I don’t need to marry into a wealthy family. I am my own wealthy family.”
9. Classically Trained
Getting her first role at 16 got Bingbing on the path to stardom. Once she graduated high school, she attended the Shanghai Xie Jin Film and Television Arts College, then went to the Shanghai Theatre Academy.
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10. Holiday Inn
Even after Bingbing admitted wrongdoing in her tax evasion scandal, more drama lay ahead. The South Morning China Post reported that the Chinese government forcibly held Bingbing in a “holiday resort." The holiday stay explained Bingbing’s absence for three months, during which time she was reported as missing. The forcible detainment also drew some media attention for echoing earlier instances of human-rights activists disappearing in China.
11. Double Trouble
Bingbing had one of her most auspicious years in 2004, when she earned a Golden Rooster Award and a Huabiao Award for her role in Cell Phone. For the philistines that don’t know what those awards are, they are China’s most prestigious film awards. However, Bingbing has stated she doesn’t judger her success by awards. Cell Phone was also the highest grossing Chinese film of the year, so that’s some consolation.
Chinese audiences felt excited about Bingbing’s appearance in Iron Man 3, although she only popped up in one scene. An official statement by Marvel admitted that they made the “bonus footage” specifically for the Chinese audience, likely to capitalize on Bingbing’s popularity.
13. Follow Along
For those wanting to get Bingbing’s skin, listen up. She avoids caffeine. She never leaves the house without an umbrella and always wears sunscreen. Heck, she even wears sunscreen if she sits in front of a computer. Bingbing also uses facial masks “diligently,” including two daily: One for moisturizing and one for whitening.
14. The Boss
Bingbing started her own self-named studio in 2007. Fan Bingbing studio has since produced TV shows such as The Empress of China, about the wild life of Wu Zetian. The show is believed to the most expensive Chinese series ever made, with a budget of $49.93 million. The company currently has about 30 employees, and their perks include massive year-end bonuses and new laptops.
Bingbing’s status as a fashion icon is probably best exemplified by the fact that one of her dresses literally made fashion history. Bingbing wore a “Dragon Robe” to the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, with the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum later adding the garment to their collection. The dress features traditional Chinese embroidery, including two leaping dragons and waves, which symbolize eternal peace. Madame Tussaud's bought the original dress, while the one at the museum is a copy.
The investigation into Bingbing’s earnings began after she purchased a $200 million yuan ($31 million US) penthouse apartment. It was a Chinese TV presenter, Cui Yongyuan, who began to question how much Bingbing was really making. The presenter got the ball rolling and China’s tax bureau soon ordered an investigation.
17. Good Company
Bingbing will star in The 355, a spy thriller where she’ll act alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, and Jessica Chastain. The film takes its name from the American Revolution’s first female spy and follows the five characters as they assemble to “stop a global organization from acquiring a weapon.” Okay, the plot might sound generic but the cast looks pretty good.
18. Domino Effect
The city of Khorgos has a population of just $100,000 and offers 0% corporate income tax for the first five years, in order to entice new businesses. As a result, Khorgos is estimated to house more than 1,000 shell companies. With Bingbing’s investigation, government agencies are now scrutinizing these kinds of tax loopholes more. Entertainment companies are now avoiding the area or taking a hit in their shares due to the bad press. The company, Huayi Brothers (which produced a lot of Bingbing’s early works) is one such example, with a 40% drop since June.
19. Still Looking Good
Fan was voted 2012’s Best Dressed International Star by Esquire. Bingbing also got some love from the Chinese version of Esquire, when they deemed her China’s most beautiful woman.
20. Think of the Children
Bingbing founded Heart Ali, a charity campaign that provides heart surgery for children.The campaign began in 2009 and is targeted at children in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet. Bingbing has personally travelled to the region numerous times and has personally helped screen thousands of children for the program.
21. Thanks Guys
Although Bingbing is not active on Instagram, she is a frequent Weibo user. During her stay at a “holiday resort,” it was her fans who began to wonder if she was missing since their beloved celebrity wasn’t posting as often. By August, fans noticed Bingbing hadn’t liked any posts since July 23 and they began to send her comments asking her if she was okay. Bingbing never responded to these comments, likely a condition of her forced vacation.
Bingbing is also nicknamed "Fan ye" or “Master Fan.”
23. House of Wax
Bingbing has been the model for quite a few wax figures in China, but she isn’t impressed with most of them due to her belief that they don't look anything like her. Bingbing told the world how she felt about them during a live stream, saying “they hurt me deeply.” Shanghai’s Madame Tussauds is the only wax museum that was safe from Bingbing’s wrath.
24. Red Arches
Since Bingbing is a beauty icon, her opinion on beauty might hold weight for some people. She has stated that she views lips as the most beautiful feature of a face, hence her need to never leave home without lip balm and lipstick.