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Actress Fan Bingbing on social media habits, living with 5 cats and why she’s no longer interested in marriage

The first time we saw Fan Bingbing in person was in 2009. She was in Singapore to promote the political thriller Bodyguards And Assassins. We don’t exactly remember who else from the illustrious cast was here on that press junket – we think Nicholas Tse and Tony Leung Ka-Fai? Maybe Leon Lai too?

But we certainly remember Fan Bingbing. So statuesque, she towered over her male co-stars on stage. So fair, her alabaster skin literally glowing under the spotlight and relentless camera flashes.

She’s why the term “screen goddess” exists, we remember thinking.  

Fourteen years later, 8days.sg is sitting opposite Fan Bingbing in the presidential suite on the 53rd floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

We’re relaying to her that anecdote and how, even after more than a decade, she still has that effect on people. She laughs, caught unaware by the compliment. “No, no, don’t say that… but thank you,” said the now 42-year-old.

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST TOLD THAT YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL?

I think it was after I entered showbiz. When I was in primary school, the concept of beauty wasn’t something I understood. It was only in secondary school when people called me the campus belle. But for me that term wasn’t something I felt strongly about.

When I was about 16, 17, at that time in China, there were very few cinemas so we watched a lot of TV. I would think, ‘Wow, these actresses are beautiful!” That’s when I started to develop an understanding of beauty. I would think, “I’m a girl, I want to look like that too.”

DID YOU HAVE THE SAME KIND OF STAR PRESENCE WHEN YOU WERE A KID?

(Laughs) No… Kids don’t have that. Well, maybe the kids now do but in our era, there wasn’t such a thing. I think it’s because my personality is more masculine. I’m direct and I have a righteous spirit. When I was young, I liked to watch wuxia shows based on Jin Yong and Gu Long’s novels so there’s a heroine in me (laughs).

A LOT OF PEOPLE THESE DAYS ARE ADDICTED TO SOCIAL MEDIA, ARE YOU LIKE THAT TOO?

Yes (laughs).

HOW MANY HOURS A DAY ARE YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

I would say two hours? I’m someone who stays home a lot. I don’t go out to socialise. So when I’m looking at social media, for me, it’s ‘cos I want to see more of what’s happening in the world. It’s a way of improving myself, I suppose. And I usually do that before I sleep.

WHAT IF YOU COME ACROSS A PIECE OF NEWS THAT IS FALSE OR UNFLATTERING?

I’m used to that already. I’ve been in showbiz for 25, 26 years. I’ve faced the media for a very long time. They know how Fan Bingbing is like ’cos we’ve done so many interviews together. They know who I am as a person. I believe that time can prove everything. So to me now, fake news, unless it’s clickbait, the majority of time, it’s something I can accept.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET HERE?

Many, many years. It’s a long process.

YOUR MOVIE GREEN NIGHT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS A FEMINIST MOVIE. WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A FEMINIST?

Not exactly. As an independent woman in this day and age, how the world views women is very different compared to 10, 20 years ago. It’s much better now. People say men and women are equal, but I think men and women have never been equal.

WHY?

That’s just how it is. Men are born to think that women and men have different tasks. For me, I think women have to take on a lot of things. Men earn money to support the family. In China, we have this term: Widowed parenting.

Let’s say we are husband and wife, the man is in charge of supporting the family financially. But when it comes to taking care of the kid, the men’s role is nonexistent. As for women, they still have to earn money to support the family. And if you are not a housewife, you have the stress of caring for the kids on top of work stress. So even though we are a married couple, it’s like I’m a widow. Even though women are very strong now, they still need a lot of care and concern.

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT MARRIAGE COMPLETES A PERSON? OR DO YOU THINK A PERSON CAN BE SINGLE AND STILL LEAD A HAPPY FRUITFUL LIFE?

(Laughs and points to her stylist sitting near us) My confidante is there. I don’t know how to answer this. I think a lot of people don’t want to get married these days. (Her stylist interjects: “Yes, don’t get married. It’s enough to have a lot of relationships.”)

A lot of women around me all don’t want to get married anymore. They feel if you manage to find love and a good partner, life is pretty perfect as it is. There’s a quote: You think you find someone who can shelter you from the storm but you sure didn’t expect that at the end, the storm is brought on by this person (laughs). I think all women have been through such disappointment and bad relationships.

Of course, there are also many happily married couples but most Chinese women don’t have high hopes for marriage. In fact, in China, the divorce rate is very high! I think it’s like 60 -70 per cent of all marriages end in divorce? And now in China, there’s a three or six-month cooldown period so you can’t get divorced immediately.

WELL, IN SINGAPORE IT’S THREE YEARS.

Three years?! That’s miserable. So I think…it’s too troublesome.  

This story was originally published in 8Days. 

For more 8Days stories, visit https://www.8days.sg/

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