Rumors of an acting ban against Fan Bingbing are spreading in the wake of the actress’ disappearance over the last several months. The actress, one of China’s biggest stars, has not been seen in the public eye for more than three months following a tax evasion accusation, which has affected both her acting career and her endorsement deals.
Fan was at the center of a tax evasion scandal in late May. Cui Yongyuan, a retired television anchor, posted documents that appeared to show the actress being paid through two different contracts for work on the sequel to her 2003 movie “Cell Phone.” According to The New York Times, one contract showed a salary of $1.6 million to be reported to tax authorities and another an actual payment of $7.8 million. The documents resulted in the State Administration of Taxation investigating the Chinese entertainment industry over dual contracts, also known as “ying and yang” contracts.
Following the tax evasion investigation, Chinese authorities announced new limits on actor salaries. No actor is allowed to earn more than 70 percent of the entire cast or more than 40 percent of production costs, the Times reports.
The investigation was into the industry at large. Fan was never confirmed to be personally under investigation, nor has she been charged with any crime. The actress denied the accusation of tax evasion in May, but she has disappeared from social media and hasn’t made any public appearances in the subsequent months.
Fan’s last major international appearance was at the Cannes Film Festival, where she joined co-stars Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, and Lupita Nyong’o at the Cannes market to promote the sale of their spy movie “355,” to be directed by Simon Kinberg. The actress has not posted to her Twitter or Facebook accounts since Cannes, nor has she updated her Weibo account, where she has 62 million followers. The Times reports a promotional video Fan appeared in for the diamond company De Beers, published to YouTube on May 24, is one of her last public appearances.
In the aftermath of the tax evasion investigation, Fan’s name was removed from posters for her movie “Unbreakable Spirit,” in which she stars opposite Bruce Willis, and her role in an upcoming sequel to an animated motion-capture film was reportedly edited out. The Sydney Morning Herald reports lifestyle brand Swisse Wellness has suspended the use of Fan’s name in marketing campaigns, while the German accessories brand Montblanc confirmed to the Times it has terminated Fan’s contract.
Fan’s disappearance has resulted in rumors of not just an acting ban, but also rumors of an arrest and her fleeing China altogether. Fan has been acting since the mid 1990s, where she rose to fame as a cast member on the television series “My Fair Princess.” The actress is now considered one of the most popular actresses in China, regularly appearing on lists of the world’s highest paid actors over the last several years. IndieWire has reached out to Fan’s representatives for further comment.