“A decade before her disappearance, the Angelina Jolie of China hired me as her tutor. I got a crash course in China’s dizzying celebrity-industrial complex.” This is Rian Dundon’s introduction to his eye-opening piece on Medium detailing his time behind the scenes with Fan Bingbing, one of China’s biggest celebrities whose name is now somewhat synonymous with tax evasion, scandal, and the power of the Party.
Dundon’s photos of his time as FBB’s “fake English tutor” have been published in various guises before, but this is one of the first times we’ve come across such a detailed account of his experiences inside her inner circle.
It’s full of fascinating observations — both on Chinese celebrity culture and on Fan herself:
“Depending on the audience or product she was endorsing, Bingbing’s public image could change from objectified sex idol to wholesome girl next door. Privately, she was a cunning businesswoman, highly successful yet isolated by her fame. Warm and gracious, cold and calculating, Bingbing could be many people at once, making it difficult to spot where her personas ended and a real person began. Maybe she wasn’t sure herself.”
Go read the full article here: “My 9 Months on the Road With Fan Bingbing, China’s Biggest Movie Star.”
The piece comes as Fan appears to be making moves back toward the spotlight after her period as a pariah. As we’ve reported before, she is set to star opposite Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Penelope Cruz in spy thriller 355. She’s also increasingly being spotted at brand events, such as a Givenchy promo bash last week, and appeared in a Gentle Monster video late last month.
Fan Bingbing Movie Comeback to Happen “This Year”
Just how tricky this path back to the public eye will prove however, has been highlighted by some particularly cold netizens reporting Fan’s usage of Instagram to post videos about training for 355. Instagram is blocked in China and her posts from a Beijing gym prompted some to accuse her of using illegal methods to gain access to the platform.
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