A Hong Kong news outlet is reporting that Fan Bingbing, China’s highest-paid actress, has been banned from acting for three years amid allegations of tax evasion, but there has been no independent verification as yet of such a move.
The Apple Daily report comes as the actress’ fans wonder about her recent silence on social media and absence from the limelight. Fan, who starred in 2016 hit “I Am Not Madame Bovary” and played Blink in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” was last seen in public in early July and has not updated her social media accounts, including Chinese Twitter-equivalent Weibo, for three weeks.
Fan has been at the center of a scandal over actors’ salaries and tax evasion since May, when a Chinese TV anchor published documents that appeared to show Fan being paid through two different contracts for work on the same film. The implication was that only one of the contracts would be declared to tax authorities. Fan has vehemently denied the allegations, but Chinese officials announced a few weeks later that they were launching a probe into so-called yin-yang contracts.
Her talent management firm, Fan’s Workshop, has declined to comment on the report of an acting ban. CAA, which represents Fan internationally, also declined to comment.
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According to another report, Fan’s name has been stripped from publicity for Chinese war film “Unbreakable Spirit” (previously titled “The Bombing”), starring Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody, which was to be released in China this month. The movie now looks set to hit theaters in October.
The reports do not say whether Fan is forbidden from acting only in China or also abroad. She has been cast in “355,” an all-female action movie produced by Jessica Chastain, which was the hottest-selling film this year at Cannes. CAA was involved in the sale of China rights to Huayi Bros. for an estimated $20 million.
Fan has already completed shooting on Bliss Media and Kylin Media’s “The King’s Daughter” (formerly titled “The Moon and the Sun”), a fantasy directed by Sean McNamara.
China has banned prominent performers and directors in the past, including actor-director Jiang Wen and director Zhang Yimou, usually because their films are deemed politically unacceptable by China’s censors. Officials rarely announce or publicly confirm such bans, except when the courts are involved, as was the case of Jackie Chan’s son Jaycee, who was convicted of supplying drugs.