Born: 9 February 1979
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Best known as: The beautiful blind assassin in House of Flying Daggers
Waiflike, ethereal and yet somehow a martial arts film favorite, Zhang Ziyi played high-kicking, fist-fighting heroines in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and House of Flying Daggers (2003). Zhang was born in China and spent six years at the Beijing Dance Academy before switching to acting studies at the Central Academy of Drama. Her first leading role was in the poetic village romance The Road Home (1999), and one year later she landed a high-profie part as the aristocratic (and acrobatic) young rebel Jen Yu in Ang Lee's hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The role brought Zhang to the attention of international audiences, where her porcelain good looks and steely undertones proved to be a popular combination. The next year she co-starred with Jackie Chan in the action comedy Rush Hour II, and in 2004 she played a mysterious samurai-like courtesan in the art house action film House of Flying Daggers. Zhang and her Crouching Tiger co-star Michelle Yeoh reunited for the Hollywood film Memoirs of a Geisha, due for release in 2005.
Extra credit: Early in her acting career, Zhang's slender build and star quality earned her the nickname "the little Gong Li."
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