Chinese actress Li Bingbing (Resident Evil: Retribution, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) has been cast in Transformers 4.
The news was first reported by China’s m1905.com, a state-owned film site. The casting comes during recent high-profile efforts to court and increase Chinese interest in Hollywood tent-poles: Iron Man 3 was shot with footage specifically for the country, which is now the world’s second-largest film market. Meanwhile, Transformers 4 Chinese Actors Talent Search Reality Show will air this summer, a reality TV competition to cast four speaking roles in the upcoming film, which jettisons franchise star Shia LaBeouf in favor of Mark Wahlberg.
Bay also intends to shoot in China, which will help it qualify as a Sino-U.S. co-production and thus avoid the country’s import quota on foreign films, which is designed in part to promote its own domestic (and relatively much less lucrative) film industry.
Bingbing’s role wasn’t specified by
the story Paramount, though the news is surely more evidence that the film’s plot is headed East. One request: No more racist robots.
UPDATE: EW has confirmed the casting. “I am excited to have Li Bingbing join our cast and to be shooting portions of the movie in her native China,” Bay said in a statement. Said Bingbing: “I am very happy to be able to join this international production. Thank you Paramount for the invitation!”