The Beijing native steps into her first American movie role in ''Memoirs of a Geisha''

By EW Staff
Updated June 17, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Age 26

Mustworthiness Now that she’s proved she’s more than just a kung fu powerhouse, the petite beauty will make her full-length English-speaking debut in December’s adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha, as dreamed up by razzle-dazzle director Rob Marshall (Chicago). But first she becomes considerably more liberated as a lovestruck prostitute in 2046, Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai’s mystical romance.

Social Study ”Since I’m Chinese, I didn’t know a lot about Japanese culture [going into Geisha], so I had to learn the basics: how people spoke, how they walked.”

Lady of the Plight But mastering a whole culture was nothing compared to shedding tears on cue. ”If I only had to cry a few times, it wouldn’t be so hard,” she says of her 2046 experience. ”But with Kar-Wai, we always shot like 30 takes! It was tiring!”

English Teacher ”I like to watch TV commercials because the pronunciations are clear,” says the Beijing native. ”Plus, there’s a product, so you know what’s being talked about.”

Next 2046 (Aug. 5); Geisha (Dec. 9).