Joan Chen (born April 26, 1961 in Shanghai, China) is a Chinese-born actress, director, writer, and producer who has gained stardom on both sides of the Pacific.
She was born in Shanghai as Chen Chong, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. When she was in high school, Jiang Qing (the wife of Mao Zedong) saw her excel in target shooting. This led to the young Chen Chong being inducted into the Young Actors' Training Program of the Shanghai Film Studio. She graduated school at 17, and began acting while studying English in university. In 1979, she starred in Little Flower, and the fame she received from this role led to Time calling her "the Elizabeth Taylor of China."
In 1980, Chen moved to the USA, and studied film. Her first Hollywood role was in Tai Pan. She also acted in The Last Emperor and Heaven And Earth, and played Dragon Lady Jocelyn Packard in the David Lynch series Twin Peaks. But she grew tired of playing the "exotic Asian lady," and began directing both Chinese and American films, such as Xiu Xiu The Sent Down Girl and Autumn In New York.
Chen returned to acting in the 2000s, starring in Jasmine Women alongside Zhang Ziyi. Other roles since her return to acting have been in Saving Face, Tonight At Noon, The Home Song Stories, Lust, Caution, Journey to the West, and Fringe. She also curated the first Singapore Sun Film Festival.
Chen lives in both Shanghai and San Francisco with her husband Peter Hui and their two daughters, and is now an American citizen.
- Little Flower (1979) as Zhao Xiaohua
- MacGyver (1985 episode "The Golden Triangle") as Lin
- Miami Vice (1985 episode "Golden Triangle") as May Ying
- Tai Pan (1986) as May-May
- The Last Emperor (1987) as Wan Jung
- The Blood Of Heroes (1989) as Kidda
- Twin Peaks (1990-1992) as Jocelyn Packard
- Wedlock (1991) as Noelle
- Nightmare Cafe (1992) as the first customer
- Heaven & Earth (1993) as Mama
- Tales from the Crypt (1993 episode "Food for Thought") as Connie
- Temptation Of A Monk (1993) as Scarlet and Violet
- Golden Gate (1994) as Marilyn
- On Deadly Ground (1994) as Masu
- The Hunted (1995) as Kirina
- Judge Dredd (1995) as Dr. Ilsa Hayden
- Wild Side (1995) as Virginia Chow - also producer
- Homicide: Life on the Street (1997 episode "Wu's On First?") as Elizabeth Wu
- The Outer Limits (1995) (1998 episode "Phobos Rising") as Major Dara Talif
- Xiu Xiu The Sent Down Girl (1998) - wrote, directed, and produced
- Purple Storm (1999) as Shirley Kwan
- Autumn In New York (2000) - directed
- What's Cooking? (2000) as Trinh Nguyen
- Avatar (2004) as Madame Ong
- Jasmine Women (2004) as Mo and Mo's mother
- Saving Face (2004) as Hwei-Lan Gao
- The Home Song Stories (2007) as Rose Hong
- Lust, Caution (2007) as Mrs. Yee
- The Sun Also Rises (2007) as Dr. Lin
- Mao's Last Dancer (2009) as Li Cunxin's mother
- Tonight At Noon (2010) as Joan
- 1911 (2011) as Longyu
- Fringe (2011 episode "Immortality") as Reiko
- Seeing Red (2011) - also director
- White Frog (2012) as Irene Young
- Serangoon Road (2013) as Patricia Cheng
- Ava (2020) as Toni
- A Murder at the End of the World (2023) as Lu Mei
- Fake Nationality: As an Eskimo in On Deadly Ground, a Vietnamese woman in What's Cooking?, and a Japanese woman in Fringe.
- Money, Dear Boy: Her roles in On Deadly Ground and Judge Dredd.
- Star-Making Role: In Little Flower (for Chinese audiences) or The Last Emperor (for Westerners).
- Typecasting: As a Dragon Lady.