Li Gong

Born in Shenyang, China, on Dec. 31, 1965, Li Gong met influential Fifth Generation filmmaker Yimou Zhang when she was still a drama student and quickly became one of his favorite actresses. She collaborated with Zhang for the first of many times on Red Sorghum (1987), her film debut and his first full-length feature.

A decade later, she made her English-language debut opposite Jeremy Irons in Chinese Box (1997) and went on to star in the Oscar-nominated Breaking the Silence (1999) before appearing in her highest-profile role yet, playing a jealous and haughty beauty in the Oscar-nominated Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).

More mainstream Hollywood fare would follow, including the glitzy, big-screen remake of Miami Vice (2006) and the Silence of the Lambs prequel Hannibal Rising (2007).