5 Things You Didn’t Know About Joan Chen

Could you imagine Joan Chen jumping off planes as a profession? Us neither! Here are things you didn’t know about the award-winning Asian American actress.

By Adriel Chiun 19 Nov, 2018 4:39 AMTags

We know her as the ravishing woman that played the ill-fated Empress Gobulo Wanrong in 1987's Oscar-winning film, The Last Emperor, the movie that changed Hollywood, and hit television series, Twin Peaks, the David Lynch-directed show that altered the course of primetime television in the United States.

And just known simply as Joan Chen, the multiple Golden Horse Award-winner is set to grace the sunny shores of Singapore to receive yet another award — the Cinema Legend Award, at the 2018 Singapore International Film Festival.

And equally as legendary, here are five things that most people don't know about the Chinese-American actress.

1. Joan Chen, the Parachutist?

Chen did not set out to be an actress. Born in Shanghai and growing up during the Cultural Revolution, Chen thought the profession of a parachutist was an incredibly novel idea.

"The uniforms looked so handsome, and the female uniform actually had a waistline. Ordinarily we weren't allowed to have a waistline. In school, our outfits didn't show our shapes. When you have no physical appearance of being a woman, you seem to have less," explained Chen in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

2. Incredible Gene Pool

Chen's parents are both doctors, and so were her parents' fathers (read: her maternal grandfather was a renowned neuropharmacologist), who were all educated in England and America, and had hoped she would follow their footsteps and read Medicine in university.

"All Asian parents are into your children having a respectable, decent stable job. Acting was unimaginable to my parents," said Chen in a talk.

3. The Last Emperor Reunion

Film buffs and fans of Qing Dynasty period dramas will know that Chen had a little reunion with her TLE co-star, Vivian Wu in the highly anticipated Chinese costume drama Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace. They both played the same royal stations as they did in TLE, albeit during different regimes: Chen, as yet another ill-fated Empress, and Wu, the Noble Consort.

4. Typical Taurus

Born on the 26 April 1961, Chen did not only possess the star sign of Taurus, but, under the Chinese zodiac, also an Ox. A winning combination. You know what they say about a rose by any other name.

Traits include: reliability, compassion, and self-reliance — all present in Chen's personality — who is not only an acclaimed actress, and a writer and director, but also a patron in numerous charities that deal with HIV prevention and awareness, breast cancer and combatting violence against women and children, to name a few.

5. Elvis' Number 1 Fan

Having majored in English at the prestigious Shanghai International Studies University during her formative years as a young adult, Chen would constantly pine for the West and lose herself in backdated issues of TIME that her mother would ship from New York.

In one of the issues, an article stood out that commented about the hoards of Elvis fans that infiltrated Central Park in the Big Apple to catch a glimpse of the King. And after being sent music tapes, Chen fell in love with the song 'Love Me Tender', and the rest, as they say, is history.