From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other people named Zhao Wei, see Zhao Wei (disambiguation).
Zhao Wei at the 2007 Huabiao Awards
|Chinese name||趙薇 (traditional)|
|Chinese name||赵薇 (simplified)|
|Pinyin||Zhào Wēi (Mandarin)|
|Jyutping||Ziu6 Mei4 (Cantonese)|
|Born|| 12 March 1976
Wuhu, Anhui, China
|Other name(s)||Vicki Zhao
|Occupation||actress, director, singer|
|Spouse(s)||Huang Youlong (m. 2008)|
|Children||"April" (b. 11 April 2010)|
|Parents||Zhao Jiahai (father)
Wei Qiying (mother)
While studying at Beijing Film Academy, Zhao became an Asian superstar overnight in 1998-1999 for starring as Xiaoyanzi ("Little Swallow") in the TV series My Fair Princess, for which she also won a Golden Eagle Award. As the drama enjoyed unprecedented popularity domestically, Zhao is regarded by many as Mainland China's first "national idol" since the economic reform began in 1978. In 1999 she also began a singing career with her debut album Swallow.
Zhao has starred in many box-office smash-hits over the years, including Shaolin Soccer (2001), Red Cliff (2008-2009), Painted Skin (2008) and Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012). She has received awards from the Shanghai International Film Festival, Huabiao Awards, Changchun Film Festival, Hundred Flowers Awards and Shanghai Film Critics Awards for films like A Time to Love (2005) and Mulan (2009). While focusing her career on films, she also starred in highly-popular TV series such as Romance in the Rain (2001) and Moment in Peking (2005).
In 2013, Zhao's directorial debut So Young broke the grossing record for a female Chinese director in just a week, eventually becoming one of the highest-grossing films ever in China. In 2014, returning to acting after a 2-year absence, Zhao won Best Actress at the Hong Kong Film Award and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award for Dearest.
Early lifeBorn and raised in Wuhu, Anhui, Zhao is the younger of two children. Her parents are Zhao Jiahai (Chinese: 赵家海; pinyin: Zhào Jiāhǎi), an appliance designer, and Wei Qiying (Chinese: 魏启颖; pinyin: Wèi Qǐyǐng), a schoolteacher, and her brother is Zhao Jian (Chinese: 赵坚; pinyin: Zhào Jiān; born 1971). She graduated from Teachers' College Elementary School and Teachers' College High School. Zhao learnt dancing and ink wash painting for three years and practised the piano for six years. In 1994, her performance in Tibetan dancing was shown as part of a local television spring festival celebration.
Zhao has claimed that she never planned to become famous, later explaining, "I thought actresses had to be beautiful, and I thought I was ordinary." When she was 17 years old, a filming crew arrived in Wuhu, looking for extras for the film Hua Hun, starring Gong Li. After participating in the filming as an extra, Zhao decided she wanted to act, and left her hometown. She eventually enrolled in a new film arts school in Shanghai, founded by film director Xie Jin. At the age of 20, Zhao received first class results in her entrance exam to Beijing Film Academy's Performance Institute, graduating in 2000.
Early career (1994–1997)While still in high school Zhao had her first experience in front of the camera as an extra on A Soul Haunted by Painting (1994), starring Gong Li. She played a prostitute at the brothel where Gong's character works at the beginning of the film and is briefly visible in some shots, although she has no dialogue.
In 1995, after her university entrance exams, Zhao quit her job as a kindergarten teacher. The same year, she was chosen by Xie Jin, the founder of Xie Jin's Star Academy, to star in one of his movies, Penitentiary Angel. This was her first substantial acting role. Zhao did not find her own performance fulfilling, but considered it to be a valuable experience. "I was too young to understand the role," she said, "but if you've been cast in a film by a famous director, no matter how well you did, other less-famous directors will also want to cast you." She obtained the highest score in the entrance examination when she was matriculated into the acting institute of the Beijing Film Academy (BFA) in 1996. As one of the most outstanding students in the BFA, Zhao scored five yous (A) and nine youliangs (A-) out of the 14 courses. Her graduation thesis scored 90.
Television (1998–2002)After playing minor roles in various films and television series, Zhao received her first leading role in a series called Sisters in Beijing. She was spotted by Taiwanese novelist Chiung Yao, who was looking for actors. Chiung Yao noted that Zhao was a little chubby but talented. By 1997, however, Zhao had lost some weight and was offered one of the leading roles in the television series My Fair Princess, which was adapted from Chiung Yao's novels. Filming the series was an arduous task for Zhao and her co-stars; Zhao herself acknowledged the intensity of filming:
We shot 18 to 20 hours a day. There were two groups of actors. One shot during the day, one at night. Frequently I'd have to do both. A few times I worked so hard that I actually threw up from the exertion. But I was young then. I didn't get tired easily. And I never complained about the working conditions. I thought that's just how it was supposed to be. Now I know that's wrong. But at the time I had no clue. Whatever they'd give me, I'd do. And as soon as I was done working I could just fall asleep. They'd say, 'Go to sleep,' and I'd go right to sleep.The hard work of the cast yielded unexpected results. After My Fair Princess was broadcast, it enjoyed the highest ratings in China and Zhao quickly rose to prominence. In 1999, she became the youngest actress to win the Golden Eagle Award for Best Actress. Zhao was named one of Taiwan's "Top Ten Most Outstanding Individuals in Television Industry." Alongside the phenomenal success, more and more negative critic, mainland China's critics thought the role and her performance is a traditional-breaker and destroy the elegance of ancient palace life. During Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference 2002, a member of the CPPCC submit a proposal to oppose the "little swallow".
After several hit TV series and movies, such as Treasure Venture, The Duel (directed by Jeff Lau). Zhao filmed another series written by Chiung Yao in 2001, the story happened during WWII. Oppsite the funny princess, she played a girl tried to revenge her father and his 9th concubine in Romance in the Rain. The series recorded as highest rating of the year. However, Zhao soon felt that she had achieved all she could in television,[inconsistent] so she went on to star in a few movies in Hong Kong. Although Zhao quit Chiung Yao's agency, the Taiwanese writer still said her favourite actresses are Brigitte Lin, Leanne Lau and Zhao, who successfully portrayed the classic characters of her novel adaption.
In 2001, she guest-starred in the comedy film Shaolin Soccer alongside Hong Kong actor and director Stephen Chow. Zhao played an unattractive steamed bun maker, which greatly differed from the glamourous image she had established for herself in previous roles. Zhao also participated in a romantic comedy called Chinese Odyssey 2002 as "Phoenix." Zhao was nominated for "Best Supporting Actress" at the 39th Golden Horse Awards. In 2002, Zhao played an assassin, worked with Shu Qi and Karen Mok in So Close.
Film (2003–2008)After filming Romance in the Rain, Zhao began to focus on acting in movies. In 2003, Zhao starred in four films: My Dream Girl, Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Green Tea, and Jade Goddess of Mercy. She nominated for the Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress for Warriors of Heaven and Earth, even though she only had 25 lines of dialogue in the entire movie. Each film was critically acclaimed and presented Zhao in a different light, but failed to box office.
After much speculation over who would receive the female lead in Ann Hui's film, Jade Goddess of Mercy, the lead role of An Xin was finally offered to Zhao, and her performance was well received by critics. In 2004, the 10th Movie Academic Society presented her the "Golden Phoenix Award" for her role.
In 2004, Zhao was cast to dub the character Princess Fiona when Shrek 2 was released in China.
2005 proved to be a successful year for Zhao after she won the Best Actress award at the Shanghai International Film Festival and tied with Zhang Ziyi for the Huabiao Award. Both were for her performance in A Time to Love. Zhao once again won "Best Actress" for her performance in A Time To Love at The 8th Changchun China Film Festival in 2006.
Finally, after a four-year break from television series, Zhao starred as Yao Mulan in a remake of Lin Yutang's Moment in Peking. 80% of audiences preferred Zhao's portrayal of Yao Mulan over the previous actress's performance. And she nominated Feitian Award for Outstanding Actress. She was ranked No. 4 on Forbes' 2006 China Celebrity 100 list. In June 2006, Zhao was selected by voters as the "Most Popular Mainland Actress" at the 2nd Top Chinese TV Drama Awards. Zhao selected as the "Most Beautiful Woman" in China (national voting by Sina.com & Sohu.com's users).
In 2006, Zhao was listed in People Magazine's '100 Most Beautiful People' in 2006. following her performance in Moment in Peking, Zhao starred in two more films. The first of these films, The Postmodern Life of My Aunt, premiered at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Her guest starring role in the film resulted in Zhao's second Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Golden Horse Awards and her first nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Zhao then portrayed a taxicab driver in the 2007 film The Longest Night in Shanghai, starring alongside Japanese actor Masahiro Motoki and Taiwanese actor Dylan Kuo (郭品超).
In 2006, Zhao took an exam for a Masters' class in directing at her alma mater, the Beijing Film Academy (BFA). After passing with flying colours, Zhao returned to the BFA in September 2006 as a graduate student in the Directing Department, where she studied under director Tian Zhuangzhuang.
Zhao received a salary of 100,000 yuan per episode for acting in the 2007 television series Thank You for Having Loved Me.
In 2008, Zhao met and married Singaporean businessman Huang Youlong.
Gongfu epics (2008–2010)During 2008 and 2009, Zhao starred in the two-part Red Cliff., John Woo's historical epic set in the Three Kingdoms period which was mainland China's most expensive film up to that point. She played Sun Shangxiang, the independent-minded sister of Sun Quan. The character spends much of the films gathering intelligence behind enemy lines, disguised as a (male) enemy soldier.
She next appeared in Gordon Chan's horror/adventure film Painted Skin, for which she received nominations of the Golden Rooster Award for Best Actress and Asian Film Award for Best Actress.
She played the titular character in Jingle Ma's Mulan., which gained her a fourth Hong Kong Film Awards nomination and her first Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress.
On 6 August 2009, she was elected vice-president of China Film Performance Art Academy and executive member of the council of the China Environmental Society.
For the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China she, like much of the Chinese acting elite, made a cameo in the patriotic tribute The Founding of a Republic. Zhao appears towards the end of the movie as a delegate to the first People's Political Consultative Conference, in a scene where the body is discussing proposals for the future flag and national anthem of the People's Republic.
The following year she starred in 14 Blades along with Donnie Yen, for which she won her third Favourite Actress award at the Beijing Student Film Festival.
Comeback and directing (2012-)Zhao returned from her extended parental leave in 2012, playing -incidentally- a single mother in LOVE, directed by Doze Niu. In the same year she also starred in the sequel to Painted Skin, although playing a different character than in the original film.
After this Zhao turned from acting to directing. In 2012 she graduated from the directing institute of Beijing Film Academy, with a MFA dissertation defense score of 99/100, ranking #1 out of all the graduates. Her directoral debut, So Young, opened on 26 April 2013 to 141 million yuan in its first weekend. She was the first female director whose debut broke 100 million yuan in China. In just one week, "So Young" have garnered 350 million yuan, with the final box office record in China being over 700 million yuan.
During 2013 she was a judge for the 5th season of China's Got Talent alongside Liu Ye, Alec Su and Wang Wei-Chun.
In 2014, she starred in the film Dearest and the TV series Tiger Mom.
In the following year she made a non-speaking cameo in the Hong Kong comedy 12 Golden Ducks, which revolves around a group of male escorts. When an elderly client is made to remember her youth, Zhao appears briefly as the woman's younger self.