Fan Bingbing in Talks to Star Anna May Wong

According to the Angry Asian Man blog, Chinese actress/singer Fan Bingbing, most recently seen as the mutant Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past, is reportedly in talks to star in a biopic about legendary screen icon Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star.

Legendary Asian American actress Anna May Wong (1905-1961) and mainland Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

Legendary Asian American actress Anna May Wong (1905-1961) and mainland Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

According to Variety, Shanghai-based Fundamental Films is developing Dragon Lady, based on the life and career of the Asian American silent era star. Jonathan Keasey and Brant Boivin are writing the script, which will recall Wong’s poverty-stricken upbringing in downtown Los Angeles and her rise to fame in Hollywood.

Wong rose to fame with her role in 1924’s Thief of Bagdad with Douglas Fairbanks, but her career was plagued by offers to play negative stereotypes of Chinese females and was limited by American anti-miscegenation laws that prevented her from sharing an on-screen kiss with a person of another race. She appeared in Daughter of the Dragon, Daughter of Shanghai, and, with Marlene Dietrich, in Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express, which was not favorably received in China because of its supposedly “negative” depiction of the Chinese. But her relationship with the Chinese audience and the Chinese film industry was amended after she traveled to Shanghai in the 1930s.

Wong grew up in a poor neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is depicted in the the Four Ladies of Hollywood statues at La Brea and Sunset along with Dolores del Río, Dorothy Dandridge and Mae West.

It’s interesting that it’s going to take Chinese producers and a Chinese star to bring this story to the screen, considering that so much of Anna May Wong’s career was marked by frustration over the limited roles available to her as an Asian American actress in Hollywood. Some things
really haven’t changed.

Fundamental Films (基美影业) operates as an independent film production company in China and the United States. The company was founded in 2008 and is based in Shanghai, China. Its main businesses involve film production and distribution. In production,  it has recently structured an equity fund dedicated to financing the development and the production of its own slates. The English slate is built-up through the Los Angeles office while the Chinese slate is developed through the offices in China. Fundamental Films is also partnering with Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp on a variety of projects. In addition, Fundamental Films currently has first-look development deals in place with Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road and Keanu Reeves’ Company Films. In distribution, Fundamental Films is a leading film distributor with a strong know-how in Promotion and Marketing of foreign films in China. Fundamental Films is invested by Guangzhou Yuexiu Industrial Investment and Shanghai Ample Harvest. The company is now listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

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