Movie fans and the whole of China's film industry are zoomed in on director Chen Kaige these days. Chen's historic epic "Forever Enthralled" goes on general release on December 5th. Standing behind Chen Kaige's illustrious movie career is Chen Hong, his wife, his most steadfast supporter and producer. On today's the List, we turn our focus on Chen Hong, who took time out from her roles of supervisor and producer of "Forever Enthralled" -- to join the cast of the film.
After more than two years in production, "Forever Enthralled" finally is ready to go before the audience. At the movie's premiere, Chen Kaige thanked his wife for all the work she's done.
"Forever Enthralled" centers on the life of one of the brightest Peking Opera stars of all time, Mei Lanfang. Chen Hong stars as Mei's wife, Fu Zhifang. Fu Zhifang meticulously took care of Mei Lanfang. She sold her jewelry and ornaments to support the family when Mei Lanfang refused to perform for the Japanese army during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression between 1937 and 1945.
Mei Lanfang died in 1961. Fu Zhifang protected Mei's manuscripts, scenarios and costumes -- from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. Fu Zhifang died in 1980.
Like the character she plays in the film, Chen Hong is the steadfast supporter of her husband's career. She has devoted herself to helping Chen Kaige fulfill his cinematic dream.
Chen Hong was born in 1968 in East China's Jiangxi Province. She entered Shanghai Drama College in 1986. After graduation, she joined the Beijing Youth Arts Theatre.
Her first role on the big screen came when she was 17. It was a small part in "Here Is a Fountain". After that, Chen Hong starred in a succession of movies. One was an adaptation of the Chinese literary classic "A Dream of Red Mansion".
Chen Hong's natural beauty seems to reflect the aesthetics of ancient China. She was asked to star in many period TV dramas, including "Legends of the Three Kingdoms". She once was named one of the most beautiful women in Chinese cinema or television.
Chen Hong has built a happy family. She married Chen Kaige, a Chinese cinematic visionary, in 1996. Devoting herself to Chen's career, Chen Hong turned her attention to work behind the scenes as a film producer. In 2001, the couple's film, "Together" won three major awards including "Best Director" at the 11th Golden Rooster Awards.
In 2005, the couple collaborated on the historic blockbuster "The Promise". The film was not well received. Fans and critics didn't like it.
In the three years since, husband and wife have rallied and come up with another film. They feel confident that this time, fans will not be disappointed.
"Everyday, she has to deal with a lot of details. For an actress, that's not good. It's unfair. She doesn't like the fact that other actresses can devote their whole attention to performing. She has to balance two roles as an actor and a producer. It's a tough job. "
"Every time I was called on to act again, I found it very exciting. My heart would not calm down. I wonder where that feeling comes from. Maybe it's because the film was shot over several months. But also -- after overcoming many, many obstacles, I experienced how the love between husband and wife grows stronger through hard times. "