Set to co-star in the forthcoming, female-driven thriller 355 with Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Penélope Cruz after a long break, lionised Chinese actress Fan Bingbing talks to Azza Arif about the latest chapter in her life, the children whose lives she has helped improve through the Heart Ali foundation, and how environmental protection is imperative right now
On who the real Fan Bingbing is
The person I am on screen and the person I am off-screen may seem very different. For example, when I’m working, professionalism and devotion are key. However, in private I am much more relaxed. I often wear little to no makeup and dress pretty casually in and out of the house. I enjoy shopping, watching movies, and eating snacks while unwinding with friends. But, when it comes to my personality, the Fan Bingbing you see is the real Fan Bingbing—I may have many faces, but each one is a true representation of myself.
Most memorable roles played thus far
Each role I play is very profound/complex. So, when interpreting each character, I must deeply connect to them and put myself into their environment and story in order to effectively portray their life. I would say the most memorable role was Nan Feng in Buddha Mountain. At the time, Li Yu, the Director, told me that he wanted a strong character with immense presence. Buddha Mountain isn’t the same as other movies. I had to find a connection -a kind of deep psychological feeling in order to grasp the role of my character Nan Feng. For this performance to be particularly profound, we spent a lot of time studying the role so that this character would truly come to life.
Most important mentors
I have met many people who undoubtedly are in love with this career and have been, and still are, very sincere in helping me. I feel that everyone I have worked with has been a mentor to me. Whether in big or small ways, it has been a privilege to work with people who cooperate and see eye to eye on the projects we’re involved in. Each person has given me a lot of advice and encouragement—something I am forever grateful for.
On the importance of speaking up on current issues that women are facing globally now
Currently, women in China and around the world are aware of the importance of independence and equality, and I’m happy to see how strong this movement has become. Women are an indispensable part of society and when we face injustice in the workplace, or in any other setting, we must stand up and speak up for ourselves and the women around us. I think this is very important because, while meeting our social obligations we must also continue to strive for the rights that we fully deserve.
The change you want to see when it comes to how women are treated in today’s society
The elimination of gender discrimination in the world is an ambition we should all strive for. Women are an integral part of society and I hope to see women courageously face their own lives through self-improvement and gain a sense of independence.
Please tell us more about the upcoming spy film, “355” and your role in the movie?
The film brings together actresses from five countries. The cast is very strong and it’s a very exciting story. My character still needs to be kept a secret and I can’t reveal too much at this point. However, I do want to say that this movie is mainly female and I am immensely proud of that. Being a part of this movie makes me feel more empowered and I hope everyone enjoys the film.
For the full article purchase a copy of Marie Claire November 2019 issue. For a digital copy click here.
Photography: Chen Man
Editor & Styling: Azza Arif & Ai Lim
Makeup artist: Bonnie Hu
Hair Stylist: Song Yang