Chinese actress Yuanyuan Gao is perhaps best known for playing Jackie Chan's lover in the box office hit film “Robin-B-Hood” (2006), from which she was nominated for a 2008 Hundred Flowers Award. Among other films she has acted in include “Spicy Love Soup” (1997), “Beijing Bicycle” (2001), “Spring Subway” (2002), “Shanghai Dreams” (2005), “City of Life and Death”(2009), “Ocean Heaven” (2010, with Jet Li) and “Don't Go Breaking My Heart” (2011). She also starred in the television series “The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber” (2003).
Childhood and Family:
Gao Yuanyuan was born on October 5, 1979, in Beijing, China. Unlike other mainland Chinese actresses, she did not graduate from any drama academic institutions, but entered the showbiz after being spotted off the street at Wang Fu Jing Shopping District in Beijing.
The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
Yuanyuan Gao made her professional acting debut in a television commercial for Meadow Gold ice-cream in her homeland, Beijing, China. Her first film role arrived in 1997 when she landed a minor role in the Chinese comedy “Spicy Love Soup,” the directorial debut of Zhang Yang. The film had its international release in London's East West Film Festival in June 1998 and was generally well received by western critics.
In 2000, Gao appeared in an advertisement for Qing Zui (fresh mouth) mint during CCTV's broadcast of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Following this, she became known to viewers as “fresh mint girl.”
In 2001, Gao landed a supporting role on the Chinese drama film “Beijing Bicycle,” which was helmed by Sixth Generation Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 17, 2001 before being released in cinemas in the United States on January 11, where it grossed a meager US$66,131 in box office over its 24 days on screen. In the following year, she was cast as a photo development salesgirl named Tian Ai in the Zhang Yibai helmed romance film “Spring Subway.” The film has found some success on the film festival circuit, including Udine, Cannes, Seattle and others.
In 2003, Gao played the leading role of Zhou Zhiruo on the television series adaptation of Louis Cha's novel, “The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber,” opposite Alec Su, Alyssa Chia, Florence Tan, Phyllis Quek and Zhang Guoli. The show was first broadcast in Taiwan and Singapore, in addition to China.
In 2005, Gao was cast in the starring role of Wu Qinghong, the daughter of a family sent to the Guizhou Province in the 1960s, in the Wang Xiaoshuai directed movie “Shanghai Dreams,” which became the winner of the Jury Prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. The same year, she also played the role of Piaoxu in the 2005 TV miniseries “Tian xia di yi,” directed by Jing Wong.
In 2006, Gao worked along with Jackie Chan, Louis Koo and Michael Hui in the action/comedy film “Robin-B-Hood” (2006), directed by Benny Chan. The film was released in China and Hong Kong on September 29, 2006 and received mostly positive reviews from critics. It topped the Chinese box Office in October 2006 and made over US$20 million worldwide, despite not being given a release in most European and North American countries. Playing Melody, a student nurse from the Peking University and later love interest of Thong, she was nominated for a 2008 Hundred Flowers Award in the category of Best Actress.
2007 saw Gao star in two films. She first played Xiao You in the Hong Kong film “Love in the City,” helmed by Jingle Ma, and then Xiao Ke in “Unfinished Girl,” written and directed by Er Cheng. She resurfaced two years later when she starred opposite Liu Ye in “City of Life and Death”(2009), helmed, written and produced by Lu Chuan. The same year, she also starred with Jung Woo-sung in “A Good Rain Knows.”
Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2008, Gao appeared in the theatre musicals “Beautiful Encounter” and “Hamlet 1990,” where she played Lin Momo and Ophelia, respectively.
In 2010, Gao appeared as Dafu's mother on the Chinese/Hong Kong drama film “Ocean Heaven,” starring martial arts superstar Jet Li, and then as Zhixiong's former girlfriend in the Chinese romance film “Driverless,” directed by Zhang Yang. She co-starred with Ye Liu, Chen Yao and Joan Chen in the Chinese comedy film “Color Me Love” (also 2010).
Recently, Gao starred with Louis Koo and Daniel Wu in “Don't Go Breaking My Heart,” directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai. The film opened the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 20, 2011 before being released theatrically in Hong Kong on March 31, 2011.
Gao has completed filming the drama/romance movie “Romancing in Thin Air,” which is set to be released in China in 2012.