Since the tax evasion scandal that saw Fan Bingbing and her related companies pay over Rmb833 million ($123.97 million) in fines, the actress has kept a low profile. But at the end of March there were signs that Fan is finally breaking cover.
In a low-key reappearance in the headlines, a beauty salon under her name opened in the heart of Beijing’s business district Guomao. The actress herself was noticeably absent at the ribbon cutting, but she sent fiancé Li Chen, her younger brother Fan Chengcheng (a pop star in his own right), and a slew of her A-list friends to the grand opening.
“The actress is using the beauty salon to test her star power and whether she still has a job in the entertainment industry,” one blogger assessed. The salon is ultra-high end, with the least expensive package costing Rmb50,000 and Fan has also been quietly updating her profile on Xiaohongshu, the social commerce site (see WiC413), including tips on products that she claims to have remedied her hair loss (a “quite serious” problem, she posted, with implications that has been under a lot of stress).
Fan got another boost last week when Simon Kinberg, the director of the spy thriller 355, which stars Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz, referenced her by name as “not just interested, but committed” to the project, putting to rest rumours that she had been dropped from the film after her 2018 tax scandal.
Kinberg added that they “plan to make that movie this year” and that he’s tweaking the script in the female-led spy thriller.
Separately, when a fan asked the filmmaker Li Yu on weibo when she would reunite with Fan in the workplace, she responded “soon”, stirring speculation that the purdah period may be drawing to a close.
Li is a long-time collaborator, previously working with Fan on Lost in Beijing (2007), Buddha Mountain (2010), Double Xposure (2012) and Ever Since We Love (2015).
Judging from some of the other comments on social media, Fan isn’t guaranteed a generous reception when she returns to the limelight. The comeback is going to be contentious, with many netizens already threatening to boycott her big screen return.
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