More than just a pretty face

Updated: 2013-08-06 13:51

By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)

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More than just a pretty face

A scene from Fan Bingbing's latest movie "One Night Surprise." Photo provided to China Daily

Back in China, Fan is concentrating on star vehicles that seem to be tailor-made for her. In 2009, she appeared in a supporting role in Eva Jin's debut film Sophie's Revenge. "Eva came to me before she wrote her follow-up to that film and asked me if I would mind playing an unmarried pregnant woman. She assured me that the character would be kind and lovable. She has strong feminine sensibilities," Fan explains.

One Night Surprise, Eva Jin's new film centering around Fan's character, is Knocked Up meets Hangover, but a chick flick which ends not only happily but with traditional Chinese values unchallenged. Fan gets to scurry through a corridor of expressions, moods and emotions. "The role is close to that of a modern woman in China," she says. "Even though I've not been pregnant, I can totally relate to her."

But One Night Surprise, which opens on August 9, is just one type of films Fan Bingbing loves to do - "the fun movies that are embraced by the public" as she puts it. The other kind tends to deglamorize her and portrays her as an ordinary woman. Lost in Beijing, Buddha Mountain and Double Xposure were all directed by Li Yu, another female filmmaker, and show Fan in a different light, nabbing her many awards in the process. "These have more depth and more impact on me," she says.

That duality may explain why Fan chooses Black Swan and Malena as the kind of dream projects she would love to jump into in the future. Natalie Portman's role in Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller has a dark side that may seduce many serious actresses. And Monica Bullucci has such allure in Giuseppe Tornatore's romantic drama that a walk down the street is enough to conquer the cinematic world. "It would be wonderful to have a Chinese boy steal looks at a mature woman in an old Chinese town." Perhaps Fan is aware of the futility to shake off the siren image, so she's ready to riff off of it.

Fan Bingbing wants to be known not only as an idol, but as someone who can act. "I hope to have the hallmark of actresses of this generation." She defines it as inheriting the good qualities of her parents' generation – both her parents are artists – and also absorbing the new things from the younger generation.

"We are lucky to be active at a time when China's film industry is booming," she says. But she admits the older generation had higher achievements even though they lived in a non-commercial era and did not fully realize their potential. "My parents gave me the genes of art. I set my eyes on the goal of becoming an actress while I was around the age of 11 or 12. I would use my mom's white scarf and play the role of Madam White Snake and have my schoolmate play my sidekick. I wanted to look beautiful and things of beauty would fascinate me even back then," she recalls. Now, people are talking about who would be the next Fan Bingbing. Yes, beauty helps, but it takes much more than beauty to have a career like Fan's.


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