Fan Bingbing to still star in Hollywood movie

NEW YORK • The top producers in China's entertainment industry may not be ready to tap Fan Bingbing (above) for their projects yet, but Hollywood is reportedly throwing a lifeline.

Sources tell trade publication Variety that the actress is making a comeback in action film 355, whose makers had actually cast her before a tax-evasion scandal put the project in limbo.

But now that Fan has re-emerged after several months away from the public eye last year, sources said work is set to begin on 355, with previously announced names - Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard - joining her.

If there is a hurdle, it is financing, with news that Huayi Brothers Media has pulled out of the venture, reflecting the cautious stance taken by Chinese companies towards Fan, 37.

The actress, who topped Forbes' 2017 list of highest earners in China with 300 million yuan (S$60 million), was fined 883 million yuan last year over tax evasion.

Television presenter Cui Yong-yuan revealed in May that she received two contracts for her work in movie Air Strike, with the one with a lower amount to be used for tax reporting.

A recent story in Vanity Fair quoted a Chinese producer who said Fan was now mostly staying at home, sending messages on WeChat, working on her English, receiving guests, doing charity work "to wash away her sins" and "trying to stay positive".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline 'Fan Bingbing to still star in Hollywood movie'. Print Edition | Subscribe