Actress is blacklisted over steamy role in latest Ang Lee film

Clifford Coonan
Tuesday 11 March 2008 01:00
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China has blacklisted the actress Tang Wei for her steamy role in director Ang Lee's film Lust, Caution – because the movie supposedly glorifies traitors.

The National People's Congress, which is meeting in Beijing, has put censorship and the need for a stricter moral code in an Olympic year high on its agenda. The main entertainment regulator, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), has blacklisted Tang and pulled a television advertisement for cold cream that she made.

Ang Lee, who is an adviser to this summer's Olympics, appears to have escaped the boycott. It is possible that, following Steven Spielberg's withdrawal from the Games, the authorities felt that to lose another high-profile director could be damaging.

The ban is a surprise, however, as Tang is hardly a threatening figure. Born in Zhejiang province in 1979, she, like her fellow Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, graduated from the Beijing Central Academy of Drama. She played a policewoman on China Central Television's movie channel, for which she won domestic kudos, but her big break came playing Wang Jiazhi in Lust, Caution. She won rave reviews for her assured performance in the erotic drama which unfolds during Japan's occupation of Shanghai in the 1940s. Lee said in a statement: "I am very disappointed that Tang Wei is being hurt by this decision."

Perhaps Tang's performance is too good – she is reportedly accused of "beautifying" traitors. Sarft's censors have previously banned films depicting hardcore sex, rape, prostitution or nudity.

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