Zhang Ziyi was born and raised in Beijing, China. As a child, she pursued her interests in dance and gymnastics. At the age of 11, she earned acceptance into a secondary school affiliated with the prestigious Beijing Dance College. Zhang earned countless awards in school, but became frustrated with the pressure. At 15, Zhang opted to focus on acting instead, and enrolled in Beijing's renowned Central Drama Academy.
In 2000, Zhang landed a high-profile part as the headstrong Jen Yu in Ang Lee's film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie because enormously successful domestically as well as internationally, and earned Zhang the Best Supporting Actress Award for both the Independent Spirit and Toronto Film Critics festivals.
Her first appearance in an American movie was in 2001's Rush Hour 2, starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. Her most critically acclaimed works are Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), which earned her nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role; and The Grandmaster(2013), for which she won 12 different Best Actress awards to become the most awarded actress for a single film.
From 2004 to 2010, Zhang ranked in the Top 5 of Forbes China Celebrity 100 list every year. In 2008, she was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema award at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival. In 2013, she received the French Cultural Order at the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Zhang most recently appeared in the J.J. Abrams-produced Netflix film The Cloverfield Paradox (2018). She will star in the upcoming 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a sequel to the franchise reboot film Godzilla.