Mystery Flowers of War Beauty Unveiled

December 13, 2011
Editor: Lin Lin

Ni Ni with Zhang Yimou at the LA premiere.[]

Ni Ni with Zhang Yimou at the LA premiere.[]

Ni Ni in mufti []
Ni Ni in mufti []

Actress Ni Ni's performance in venerable director Zhang Yimou's latest movie, The Flowers of War has brought her overnight stardom.

Mystery shrouded the young actress whose image on the Flowers of War movie poster, albeit from the nose down, pushed that of Hollywood star Christian Bale clad in priestly garb into the background.

The poster highlights the key femme fatale role in the movie while at the same time promoting the actress' mystique. There was not a single shot of this mysterious beauty among the later released still shots from the shoot.
This is a favored publicity ploy of auteur Zhang Yimou.

So-called "Mou Girls"(谋女郎)—actresses who have starred in Zhang Yimou's films—generally polarize movie goers' attention. But until the premiere, Zhang his leading ladies out of public view, presumably to tantalize curiosity, which benefits the box office.

It was hence not until the evening of December 6 that latest "mou" girl Ni Ni made her public debut at the premiere at the Arclight Cinemas, Los Angeles, of Flowers of War. 

The young actress, who plays the part of a sophisticated and patriotic prostitute, arrived at the packed hall dressed in a brown loose sweater, blue jeans, and snow boots, her demeanor that of a fresh but assured college girl.

Ni Ni, born on August 8, 1988 in east China's Jiangsu Province, graduated last year from the prestigious Communication University of China, Nanjing. Her impressive performance in Zhang's latest movie has brought her overnight stardom.

The North American debut brings both Ni Ni and the movie into the media spotlight. The entire crew, including producer Zhang Weiping, who have a long-term cooperative relationship with Zhang Yimou, highly commended Ni Ni's performance. Zhang Weiping intimated that Ni Ni had been picked for the role of Yu Mo as early as four years ago, and that she had trained for the part three years before shooting began.

Ni Ni's glacial composure and relaxed manner makes a strong impression, and her fluent English enables easy interaction with foreign media. Many showbiz seniors predict that she might outshine preceding Mou girl Zhang Ziyi.

Ni Ni's college mentor recalls her as a talented girl with strong leadership skills. In her friends' eyes, Ni Ni is of the type of college elite who prefers to keep a low profile and be nice to those around her.

Her part in the movie as an enchanting prostitute may be the antithesis of her real life role as college senior, but as Ni Ni said at the premiere, "The make-up and well-designed costume transformed me into Yu Mo, so portraying her was a matter of course."
The young actress almost blushed at being described as enchanting and seductive. "I am nothing like that. Before the movie, I never pictured myself in that style." But she also expressed her determination to become a versatile actress able to handle a broad range of characters.

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