Gong Li to Star as Empress Cixi in 'Last Empress'

Gong Li Cannes Film Festival - P 2012
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Gong Li Cannes Film Festival - P 2012

The film, which is scheduled to shoot next year, will be a China-U.S. co-production.

Gong Li, one of China’s biggest stars, will star in the China-U.S. co-production The Last Empress.

Gong, who is no stranger to English-language films, having also starred in Sony’s big-budget film Memoirs of a Geisha, will play Empress Cixi in the Seven Stars Film Studios project.

The story chronicles Cixi’s life and her complex relationships with Emperor Guang Xu and Imperial Advisor American Costa, both of whom shared a vision to modernize China. But due to misunderstandings, bloodshed ended Guang’s 100-day reform, sparking a violent revolution.

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“Gong Li was our first choice to play the complex empress,” Seven Stars chairman Bruno Wu said of the Raise the Red Lantern actress. “(She) has been applauded throughout her career for capturing the subtle nuances of multifaceted characters and delivering powerful award-winning performances. With Gong Li’s international appeal, we are confident the movie will excite and resonate with audiences across the world.”

There is no director attached yet to Last Empress, but as soon as one is in place preproduction will begin. The plan is for principal photography to begin in October 2013.