The 10 most famous Chinese actresses are superstars throughout the world. Though some have had a minimal presence in American film, their faces are known everywhere from France to Malaysia, and their striking skills are on full display at film festivals on six continents.
- Lucy Liu. Lucy Lui is Chinese American, and decidedly less talented than the other actresses on her this list (her Japanese in “Kill Bill” makes us want to gouge our ears out), but, well, she’s far more famous, and that’s what we’re after here. Lui struck pay dirt with “Ally McBeal” and “Charlie’s Angels,” and though her fame has since waned, she’s worked with Drew Barrymore, Quentin Tarantino, and Bill Murray, and graced the cover of Maxim, which is no small feat.
- Zhang Ziyi. Zhang Ziyi’s striking beauty is surpassed only by her phenomenal range and talent. One of the ten most famous Chinese actresses, Zhang is an American celebrity on account of high profile roles in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Ziyi has also impressed in the exemplary Chinese films “2046” and “Hero,” pictures that have made her huge in her homeland.
- Michelle Yeoh. Michelle Yeoh has held her own against heavyweights Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat in “Supercop” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” respectively. Yeoh is the only actress Jackie Chan has allowed to do her own stunts, and has achieved international fame through her roles in “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” “Jet Li’s Fearless,” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
- Gong Li. Gong Li helped redefine the role of women in modern Chinese cinema with her powerful and empathetic performances that dared steal the screen from her male co-stars. At two major Chinese movie award shows, she was donned the “Movie Queen.” She is a Chinese spokes person for L’Oreal, a Knight of the Legion of Honor in France, and has starred in such films as “Miami Vice,” “Eros,” and “Hannibal Rising.”
- Maggie Cheung. Maggie Cheung is one of the many great Chinese actresses to have worked with auteur Wong Kar-Wai. Cheung starred in Kar-Wai’s contemporary global art house classic “In the Mood for Love,” and has won a number of acting awards throughout her career. One of the most famous Chinese actresses, Cheung is famous internationally for her roles in “Hero,” “Supercop,” and “Days of Being Wild.”
- Bai Ling. Bai Ling hasn’t the storied career and critical accolades of her colleagues, but her supple wontons and exhibitionist nature have made her popular in the west. Ling has been in episodes of “Lost” and “Entourage,” and taken her clothes off in all manner of films and magazines, making her one of the most popular Chinese actresses.
- Joan Chen. Joan Chen has appeared in both Hollywood and Hong Kong productions. She played the female lead in Bertolucci’s multiple Oscar winner “The Last Emperor,” and starred in the American film “Heaven and Earth.” Chen won the Best Actress award and the Yugoslavia film festival for her role in “Little Flowers” and is one of the most famous Chinese actresses.
- Tang Wei. Tang Wei isn’t a household name the way some of the women on this list are (those being Chinese, academic, of film buff households, of course), but she’s famous none-the-less for her graphic sex and frontal nudity in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution.” Even more striking is Wei’s ability to overpower the sensationalism of the film’s sexual content with her acting ability.
- Zhao Wei. Zhao Wei is a young Chinese cutie who secured herself international cult fame for her role in “Shaolin Soccer,” a favorite of fans of slapstick comedy, absurd humor, soccer, martial arts films, and Asian cinema. One of the ten most famous Chinese actresses, Wei has a much higher profile in her homeland, where she is a television star.
- Li Bingbing. Li Bingbing is a young actress who rose quickly to fame in her native China through a series of successful projects before increasing her international exposure and earning her spot on the list of the ten most famous Chinese actresses by starring alongside living legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li in “Forbidden Kingdom.”
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor …
Emma Watson and Other Child Stars Who Grew Up To Be Hot
Throughout the Harry Potter film series, we've seen Emma Watson transform from a lovable child star into a burgeoning sex symbol. She's not the first actress to do so, and she cert …
10 Things Women Expect Men to Know How to Do
To make ladies swoon or at least not cringe, master these skills. (Yes, several are car-related.)