Already a star in China, U.S. fame comes to 'Farewell' actress

  • Zhao Shuzhen promotes her film "The Farewell.

    Zhao Shuzhen promotes her film "The Farewell. Associated Press

  • Zhao Shuzhen, left, and Awkwafina star in "The Farewell."

    Zhao Shuzhen, left, and Awkwafina star in "The Farewell." Associated Press/A24

By Lindsey Bahr
AP Film Writer
Posted11/24/2019 7:24 AM

LOS ANGELES -- To American audiences, the woman who plays the grandmother in the film "The Farewell" might as well be an unknown. But the 75-year-old Chinese actress is actually a big star in her native country. She's been performing on the stage and screen there for most of her life.

Zhao Shuzhen says she never even considered coming to Hollywood until writer and director Lulu Wang wanted to speak to her about playing the role of Nai Nai. That performance is also getting her some awards buzz, including a Film Independent Spirit Awards acting nomination announced Thursday.


"The Farewell," which is based on Wang's real life story about how her family kept their grandmother in the dark about her terminal illness, is currently available on home video.

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