Born into a family of doctors and educated in China at the Shanghai Film Academy and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages, Joan Chen was discovered by veteran Chinese director Jin Xie while observing a filming with a school group. Her performance in Xiao hua (1980) (aka "The Little Flower") won China's Best Actress award, and resulted in the Chinese press dubbing her "The Elizabeth Taylor of China" for having achieved top stardom while still a teenager. She came to the US to attend college in 1981, first at the State University of New York at New Paltz, later at California State University at Northridge. She a succession of small parts in movies and TV, with her first break coming in 1986 when, in true Hollywood legend, producer Dino De Laurentiis noticed her in the parking lot of Lorimar Studios and cast her in Tai-Pan (1986). The film bombed, but it led to her being cast as the ill-fated Empress in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (1987), which won critical acclaim. This, and her role as enigmatic mill owner Josie Packard in the cult TV series "Twin Peaks" (1990), are her best-known roles in the West. However, Hollywood's practice of typecasting Asians has led to a dearth of major roles for Chen since then, and in recent roles, she has often been cast as a villainess.After taking a few years off to start a family, Joan returned to the screen in important supporting roles playing women in early middle age, such as the mother of a principle adult character. As a result, her career is flourishing again on both sides of the Pacific. Her two directing efforts were well-received critically, and in a 2008 interview she revealed she planned to direct again but was putting that off until her daughters were grown, since directing took her away from them too much, whereas acting could be done on a part-time basis. Cancelled proceedings to adopt a child when she became pregnant with daughter Angela Frances. [October 1998]Joan was first spotted by Qing Jiang, the wife of Zedong Mao at a Chinese rifle range. She then recommended Joan to movie producers.While preparing to shoot a period piece called "Fu Song" (2002), she discovered she was pregnant. She took a break from the film and eventually gave birth to a second daughter. Selected by Self magazine as one of "The Nine Best Bodies for the 90s".Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival. Her Chinese first name "Chong" means "charge on!" and "to rush".Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world. She is referred to as Chen Chong in Mandarin and Chan Chung in Cantonese.Speaks Mandarin, English and Shangainese.Is friends with Amy Tan.Is friends with Wayne Wang.She went to film school with author Anchee Min in Shanghai. In 1984 she helped Min emigrate from China to the US and is mentioned in Min's autobiography, "Red Azalea".Inspired indie rock band 'Xiu Xiu', named after Chen's film Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998) (aka Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl).Childhood friend of writer Geling Yan.Was member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival. Her grandfather was a famous Shanghai pharmacologist. He protested the Cultural Revolution by swallowing a fatal dose of cyanide at a public meeting, after he was wrongly accused of being a counterrevolutionary and a foreign spy.Chosen by Goldsea Asian American Daily as one of the "100 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time" (ranked #44).During a press conference at the 61st Cannes Film Festival for 24 City (2008), Zhangke Jia, Joan Chen and Tao Zhao observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the 2008 devastating earthquake in China. The film 24 City (2008) was shot in Chengdu, in Sichuan province where the earthquake struck.Attended the 61st Cannes Film Festival. [May 2008]Her performance in The Home Song Stories (2007) earned her 5 awards and 2 nominations for Best Actress.Nominated twice at the 2nd Asian Film Awards for two different roles: for Best Supporting Actress for The Sun Also Rises (2007), and for Best Actress for The Home Song Stories (2007). She eventually won the award for Best Supporting Actress for The Sun Also Rises (2007). [March 2008]Narrated the MP3 audio guide Louis Vuitton Soundwalk Shanghai City Guide, one of the three audio guides for Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong), produced by Louis Vuitton and Soundwalk, and released in June 2008. The Beijing City Guide is narrated by Li Gong and the Hong Kong City Guide is narrated by Qi Shu. Narrated with Amy Tan the audio book version of Tan's novel "The Bonesetter's Daughter". Chen reads the part of Ruth. Appeared alongside James Kyson and Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom in a public service announcement for the Banyan Tree Project campaign to stop HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian & Pacific Islander communities. [May 19, 2008]Friend of author Anchee Min. The two befriended each other at the Shanghai Film Studio when they were teenagers. Min being considered politically incorrect, Chen was told to stay away from her. Nonetheless, the two maintained their friendship and Chen later helped Min emigrate to the USA in 1984. Min said: "Joan Chen was very successful back then in China. She was a budding star. I was an underdog, politically incorrect. Nobody wanted to be associated with me. They told Joan Chen not to be with me. They told her it was good for her, but she always stood by me, showing her camaraderie and support. I'll never forget it".Had her head completely shaved in the film Temptation of a Monk (1993) for the role of Qingshou (Violet).Member of the jury at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival. The jury also included German producer Ulrich Felsberg, Danish director Bille August, Israeli writer Gila Almagor, Japanese director Kaori Momoi, Chinese director Jianqi Huo, and was headed by Hong Kong director Kar Wai Wong. [June 2008]Headed the Altadis-New Directors Award Jury at the 56th San Sebastian Film Festival. [September 2008]She has been called "China's Elizabeth Taylor" for achieving stardom while still a teenager, and "China's Meryl Streep" for her ability to move beyond the role of ingénue and portray strong and complex female characters.Spokeswoman for the Chinese Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Prevention campaign. Made the cover of Trends Health magazine alongside actresses Lan Ke and Yili Ma to promote the Chinese Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Prevention campaign. [October 2008]Attended the 8th Annual Independent Spirit Awards. [March 27, 1993]Attended the 3rd Annual Asian Film Awards, in which she presented with Oliver Stone the award for Best Director to Hirokazu Koreeda. [March 23, 2009]Director David Lynch said of her: "She's the best thing from China since pasta - and much more beautiful".Attended the Singapore Sun Festival as the curator of the 1st Sun Film Festival, whose theme was 'The Art of Living Well'. She selected and curated five films depicting 'The Art Of Living Well' for screening during the festival: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), Dead Man Walking (1995), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Still Life (2006) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). She was also involved in an on-stage interview session called 'In Conversation With Joan Chen', prestented by Ben Slater. [October 2009]Member of the jury at the 3rd Abu Dhabi Middle East International Film Festival. The jury was headed by Abbas Kiarostami and also included Sunil Doshi, Mohamed Khan, Nayla Al Khaja and Michael Fitzgerald. [October 2009]Attended the 14th Pusan International Film Festival. [October 2009]Attended the ceremony for the Family Violence Prevention Fund's International Center, in the Presidio of San Francisco, which is the world's first international center aimed at eliminating violence against women and children. [January 8, 2010]Attended the ceremony for the opening of the first luxury brand MCM store in Shanghai. Chen was wearing an MCM couture evening dress which is the only piece in the world. [January 26, 2010]Friend of actress Ye Chen. Both actresses worked in the Shanghai Film Studio. Joan later starred in Mao's Last Dancer (2009) in which Ye Chen's husband Charles Foster is portrayed by Joan's "Twin Peaks" (1990) co-star Kyle MacLachlan.Member of the jury at the I've Seen Films International Film Festival, founded by Rutger Hauer. [October 2011]Ambassador for the environmental organization WildAid and appeared in a public service announcement for the protection of pythons for WildAid and the Discovery Channel. 2012 honoree at the 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in which three of her films were shown: White Frog (2012), Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (1998), and Saving Face (2004). [March 2012]Recipient of Cal State Northridge's Distinguished Alumni Award. [April 2012]Became a US citizen at age 28. Brother is artist Chase Chen (also known as Chuan Chen). He was born in Shanghai in 1959.