Zhang Ziyi (Mandarin pronunciation Chinese: 章子怡; born 9 February 1979) is a Chinese actress. She is considered one of the Four Dan Actresses of China
Her first major role was in The Road Home (1999). She achieved fame for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), winning the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Female and earned her a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
She then starred in Rush Hour 2 (2001), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, 2046 (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), earning critical acclaim and receiving a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Zhang was born and raised in Beijing, China. Her parents are Zhang Yuanxiao, an accountant and later economist, and Li Zhousheng, a kindergarten teacher. She is very close to her older brother, Zhang Zinan (Chinese: 章子男; pinyin: Zhāng Zǐnán
In 1998, while she was studying in Central Academy of Drama, she was offered her first role by director Zhang Yimou in his film The Road Home. The film won the Silver Bear prize at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival.
In the July 2006 issue of Interview magazine, Zhang spoke of her movies’ contents and being careful about the roles she takes on, especially in Hollywood:
Yes. Otherwise I could have done a lot of Hollywood movies. After Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I got a lot of offers, but I turned them down because they were all victim roles—poor girls sold to America to be a wife or whatever. I know I have the ability to go deeper, to take on more original roles than that. That’s why I really appreciated Geisha, because it allowed us to show the world what kind of actors we are and what kind of characters we can play—not just action, kick-ass parts.
Zhang was engaged to Israeli venture capitalist Aviv “Vivi” Nevo from 2008 to 2010. Following their break-up she explained:
I grew up in a very traditional Chinese environment with lots of love, and I hope my own family would be the same. I want everyone to live together, with kids running around, and dogs playing with the kids. This is my ideal family life. I tried to make it work but it didn’t, and I have no regrets over it. ”
Zhang began dating CCTV host Sa Beining in 2011, but the two later split.