Zhang Yimou on Affair with Gong Li: “They Can Call Me a Bastard!”

Though Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) and Gong Li’s (巩俐) partnership in the last three decades resulted in many memorable films, their affair in the 1990s spurred controversy. Zhang was married when he became involved with Gong, and did not keep the affair a secret. He told his ex-wife,  “I want to be together with [Gong Li]. People can say whatever they want. Let them. They can call me a bastard.”

Their first collaboration was 1987’s Red Sorghum <红高梁>, Zhang Yimou’s directorial debut and Gong Li’s acting debut. They were mutually attracted to each other, and Zhang and Gong became an official couple during the production of 1990’s A Terra-Cotta Warrior <秦俑>. At the time, Zhang was still married to ex-wife Xiao Hua (肖华), whom he later divorced in 1990.

In Xiao’s book, Remembrance <往事悠悠>, she said she discovered the illicit affair through Gong’s letter to Zhang. Gong wrote, “You have left, and you took my heart with you.” Zhang did not hide his relationship from Xiao and told her openly that he wanted to be with Gong. Zhang also told Gong’s boyfriend at the time, “Xiao Hua and I were a mistake.”

Gong Li Wanted Marriage

Gong Li Zhang Yimou 2In 1993, Gong – then 28 years old – wanted to make things official with Zhang. She had hoped to marry before 35 years old and have children. The filmmaker said, “Marriage? I never thought about that!” Gong was crushed by Zhang’s lack of commitment, but she continued to collaborate with Zhang. In 1995, after completing the film Shanghai Triad <摇啊摇,摇到外婆桥>, Gong and Zhang officially ended their romantic relationship and parted ways.

Various claims surfaced in an attempt to explain why Zhang and Gong broke off. The most infamous rumor was the “telephone gate” incident. Zhang and his daughter Zhang Mo (张末) often had long phone conversations. Once, Zhang told Gong to call him one night, but she attempted to call him unsuccessfully for two hours. Gong immediately assumed that Zhang was chatting with his daughter. Gong was furious at having been discarded by Zhang, and decided that it was time to call their relationship off.

Zhang Yimou’s Daughter’s Forgivesness

Zhang Mo has said that Zhang and Gong’s affair had ruined her childhood. When Zhang Mo was only 7 years old, her parents divorced and she rarely saw her father in her childhood. She possessed much anger towards Gong for ruining her family.

To salvage his relationship with his only daughter, Zhang started to spend more time with her as she grew older. He brought her to the set of 1997’s Keep Cool <有话好好说>, where she developed an interest in filmmaking. Zhang sent her to study film in the United States, where she earned a prestigious degree at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York. She then returned to China to work as her father’s assistant.

Perhaps having experienced similar problems in life, Zhang Mo has come to terms to her father’s involvement with Gong. At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival last week, the two women were seen hugging warmly, putting closure behind one of China’s most sensationalized affairs.

Source: ifeng.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. i never really thought that gong li is all the pretty. she looks big compared to other asian celebrities.

    1. Agreed, no body, no face, all just hype to promote her/Gong Li because she slept with ZYM.

      bastard = illegitimate child, child born out of wedlock

      “They Can Call Me a Bastard!”

      Including ZYM’s illegitimate children.

      1. You’ve got to be kidding me. She might not be your type but her physical appearance would be considered as gorgeous and stunning by most people.

    2. Really? I thought she was one of the most beautiful actresses in China.

    3. To m0m0,
      Yes, I agree that her built is rather big. But, most northern chinese have flat face, they look different from Southern chinese for example. I feel she’s not that pretty but she definitely has those classic looks.

    1. Yup, she does and she’s like for her classic look. So this is the beast that changed her view of marriage. That’s too bad.

  2. No matter what, she is a great actress! Let’s leave their private lives alone! Everyone has a past and faults!

  3. It was an open secret anyway. The fact that all parties can talk about it now means ALL of them has moved on.

  4. is gong li now married to her rich singaporean husband? does she resides there? i am confuse…who is the china director that been fine for having more than 1 children? that director was once directing the beijing olympic opening scene…maybe is not zhang yimou as he only mentioned zhang mo as his only child here

    1. is gong li now married to her rich singaporean husband?

      I believe separated? Divorced?

      who is the china director that been fine for having more than 1 children?

      Same guy, Zhang Yimou who directed the Olympic.

      1. To Muse,

        Yes, Funn Lim was correct that Gong Li had already divorced her Singaporean husband.

        Yes, Zhang Yimou was the one directed China Olympics.

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