Winning much praise at Berlin this year for her performance in Wang Quanan's Tuya's Marriage - which picked up the Golden Bear - Yu Nan has been drawing comparisons with Gong Li, another major Chinese export.

Her career certainly has its parallels with Gong's: both won recognition by portraying a woman in a rural village and both mostly worked with one director before going international - Yu with Wang and Gong with Zhang Yimou.

'I really like and worship Gong Li,' Yu has said. 'For me, no-one can replace her.'
Yu has become a known quantity in Hollywood quicker than Gong, however.

Earlier this year she signed with CAA and was cast in two major projects: Shimon Dotan's Diamond Dogs and the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer; the former is in preparation and the latter is in production.

Born in Hunan Province and raised in Liaoning, the 29-year-old actress graduated from the performance department of the Beijing Film Academy - a traditional cradle of Chinese actors. She made her debut in Wang's Lunar Eclipse (1999), playing a shy housewife during the day and a wild, fun-loving party girl at night.

Wang described Yu's acting talent as 'able to fly up into the sky and then descend into the ground in no time'. The performance won her a role in the 2003 French drama Rage, directed by Karim Dridi.

The experience taught the actress - who is fluent in English - to speak French.

In 2003 Yu worked with Wang again in The Story Of Ermei, in which she portrays a struggling village girl in Shaanxi. The film won her best actress prizes at both the Paris Film Festival and Golden Rooster Awards back home.

She has already shot three Chinese projects this year: Wang Xiaoshuai's Left Right (Zuo You), Taiwanese romantic comedy My DNA Says I Love You and another mainland romantic comedy, Gourmet Of Poison (Shuang Shi Ji).

'Yu Nan has a quality similar to European actresses such as Isabelle Adjani. She is very devoted to acting and can usually give powerful performances,' says Michelle Yeh, producer of My DNA Says I Love You.

Yu's next project is a film tentatively entitled Gypsy Artists, directed by Wang Quanan, playing the role of a Chinese Carmen.

'I like to take challenging roles,' she says. 'I am eager to see Asian movies prosper and I hope both Asian actors and film-makers can be more influential internationally.'


Contact: CAA China, (86) 10 5822 0376


My DNA Says I Love You (2007)
Dir: Robin Lee
Tuya's Marriage (2006)
Dir: Wang Quanan
The Story Of Ermei (2003)
Dir: Wang Quanan
Rage (2003)
Dir: Karim Dridi
Lunar Eclipse (1999)
Dir: Wang Quanan


Zuo You (2007)
Dir: Wang Xiaoshuai
Diamond Dogs (2007)
Dir: Shimon Dotan
Gourmet Of Poison (2007)
Dir: Zhao Tianyu
Speed Racer (2007)
Dir: Wachowski brothers
Gypsy Artists (2008)
Dir: Wang Quanan