Even though she was only on screen for 10 minutes, Li Bingbing's appearance in the new Transformers movie has helped propel her career to a new level.
The Chinese A-lister plays the CEO of a technology company in Transformers: Age of Extinction, which has grossed $300.4 million at the box office on the Chinese mainland in just four weeks, and $886 million worldwide.
Li, 41, has received international attention for her head-turning role as a sexy, powerful company executive in the blockbuster film. Those accolades helped her land contracts worth 80 million yuan ($12.9 million) to be the spokeswoman for two international companies and one domestic business.
Li, a native ofHarbin,Heilongjiangprovince, may be best known overseas for her role in Transformers: Age of Extinction, but it wasn't her first appearance on the international stage.
She played a leading role in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, produced by Wendi Deng in 2011, and starred in the 2012 science-fiction action movie Resident Evil: Retribution.
She landed the role in Transformers while vacationing and studying English in theUnited Statesin 2012, when her agent in the country invited her to audition for the film.
Li was initially unsure how it would look for an Asian woman to play a leading role in the action series. However, she was drawn to the project after she saw the exquisite models of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee－two of the Transformers－in director Michael Bay's studio.
"Bay is very nice, with an active mind. He talked about the Transformers with an expressive face," Li was quoted by theBeijingNews as saying.
In the original script for Transformers, Li's character was a man. But Bay told Li that he was willing to change the character to a female so she could play the role.
Li Bingbing attends the New York premiere of Transformers: Age of Extinction at the Ziegfeld Theatre on June 25.
She spoke with Bay often about her character's image while making the film. Li's studio even gave her character a new name, Su Yueming, because the original one didn't sound believable for a Chinese female CEO.
Li wanted Su to appear courageous and resolute, so she took her ideas to Bay, who asked one of his friends, an Asian makeup artist, to work with her. They discussed every detail of her character's appearance, from her eyebrows, eyelashes to the color of her lipstick.
Li, a martial arts fan, performs kung fu in one of the movie's scenes shot in Hong Kong. Bay also asked her to perform in a motorcycle－racing scene, after he found out she was comfortable behind the wheel.
With appearances in international films such as Transformers, Chinese audiences have noticed that Li's English has improved greatly.
Like many other Chinese celebrities working inHollywood, the language barrier was her biggest hurdle, but Li was determined to improve her English. Her secret is never being embarrassed, regardless of whether she makes a mistake.
In the beginning, her vocabulary was limited, but she used all of the words she knew. If Li couldn't understand what other people were saying, she studied harder.
In addition to improving her English while working overseas, Li says her experience in Hollywood has helped her grow as an actor.
Li said working with talented people like Bay has taught her that it's important to give your own opinions and suggestions to the director.
"In a Hollywood blockbuster, you can't just listen to others all the time like a puppet," Li told the Beijing News.
Li, who isn't married, says she's in no rush to leave her busy career and start a family.
"I'm not celibate. It's just that I haven't met my Mr Right. But getting married is not the final aim of my life, and I don't want to be kidnapped by traditional values," Li told the Beijing News.
"As long as I feel peaceful and unrestrained while getting along with myself, it's OK."