Chinese-American actress, writer and director Joan Chen says that she was flattered when Time magazine described her as the “Elizabeth Taylor of China.”
When asked at an in-conversation event in Singapore on Saturday whether she paved the way for Chinese actresses to follow in Hollywood, Chen said, “We never go to work because we want to pave the way for other actors. We go to work because we are compelled to, we must, we love it and it feeds us.”
Chen was a juror at the 2nd International Film Festival & Awards Macao, in 2017. “Sometimes the reality is, you open the way for others, but obviously that wasn’t my motivation,” Chen said. When Chen began her Hollywood career, she did not see any role models, she said. “You turn on the television and basically, you don’t see yourself,” Chen said.
Chen did auditions for Michael Cimino’s 1985 film “Year of the Dragon,” starring Mickey Rourke and John Lone. She was surprised to get callbacks, but eventually did not land the role of a newsreader, as her English was not considered good enough at the time, despite spending all her earnings on language coaching. The same casting director instead called her for another part, “The Last Emperor” which launched her career.
Chen took time this week to discuss the #MeToo movement, and movie-making. “Everybody knows where to draw the line. Deep down everybody knows. It is a complex question because there are some predators that will threaten you. And there are young girls who are not prepared to deal with the predators who claim they could ruin their entire career. So, I’m glad when the #MeToo movement started,” Chen said. “It did go overboard, like any revolution, sometimes it goes overboard.”
Chen next appears alongside Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, John Malkovich and Geena Davis in Tate Taylor’s “Eve” which is currently in post-production.