Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing returns to acting after a tax evasion scandal. Last June, allegations were made that Bingbing underreported her acting income, which prompted a months-long disappearance and approximate $127 million fine from Chinese authorities. Bingbing is now set to co-star in the new action film 355 with Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, and Lupita Nyong’o. The film will be helmed by Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg.
In mainstream North American pop culture, Bingbing is perhaps best known for portraying Clarice Ferguson aka Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Throughout the 21st century, however, Bingbing has been one of China’s major stars. In 2002, she delivered a breakthrough performance in Fall in Love at First Sight, and received numerous accolades for her performance in the 2004 film Cell Phone. By 2011, Bingbing’s international profile increased when she starred in the French film Stretch, along with the Korean film My Way. Meanwhile, she recorded various singles during the first decade of her career, usually for her film’s official theme songs. In the years leading up to the tax evasion scandal, Bingbing was consistently China’s highest-paid actress, and recently starred in the Chinese comedy I Am Not Madame Bovary, for which she won Best Actress at the 11th Asian Film Awards.
Per Variety, Bingbing will resume her acting career with the action blockbuster 355. The film will reportedly begin filming this year, however it appears that the production has lost the financial support of China’s Huayi Brothers Media. As Variety notes, this could be for different reasons, however it’s clear that Bingbing may have to pursue more roles outside of her native China given the ongoing controversy surrounding her tax evasion scandal. The film 355 is described as a spy movie, and was written by Theresa Rebeck. Given the names attached, 355 has the potential to be an international sensation.
At the moment, 355’s director, the aforementioned Kinberg, isn’t necessary a household name. But that may change upon the release of his film Dark Phoenix. The latest X-Men franchise film stars Sophie Turner, among other big names, who portrays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. The final season of HBO’s groundbreaking series will air through April and May, leading up to the June release of Dark Phoenix. If the X-Men film does well financially, then Kinberg’s 355 project will receive even more hype, as Cotillard, Cruz, and Nyong’o have all won Academy Awards. Meanwhile, Chastain has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and will star opposite Turner in Dark Phoenix.
While the collective cast for 355 is exciting and impressive, it may be hard to fathom that Bingbing is arguably the most famous actress of the entire group. As the Chinese film industry continues to rapidly evolve with major blockbuster hits, it will be interesting to see whether Bingbing manages to sustain a career in her native country, or whether she’ll reach a new level of fame by collaborating with major Hollywood figures. For now, 355 represents a big power move, along with a strong first step back into the movie business.