Biography

A Chinese actor who specialized in quietly effective, psychologically complex roles (nearly always in dramas), Liu Ye first took his onscreen bow during the late '90s, but didn't achieve international crossover success until 2005, with the U.S. release of Dai Sijie's period comedy drama-cum-film à clef Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. In that film, Liu tackled one of the lead roles; he played Ma, one of two young men sent to a mountain village during the 1970s Chinese Cultural Revolution and instilled with Maoist principles. Even the Western critics who responded negatively to the film singled out Liu's fine work in it, thus paving the way for many additional assignments. Liu succeeded Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by teaming up with numerous acclaimed Chinese filmmakers, including Lou Ye (Purple Butterfly, 2003), Hou Yong (Jasmine Woman, 2004), and Zhang Yimou (Curse of the Golden Flower, 2006), then took his Hollywood bow under the aegis of Chinese-American director Chen Shi-Zeng, with a lead in the 2007 Dark Matter, opposite Meryl Streep and Aidan Quinn. In that film, based on a true story, Liu played a Chinese student who travels to the United States and tries to advance his theory of dark matter, but finds his attempts complicated by political concerns -- which soon leads to devastating tragedy. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi