Fan Bingbing Emerges From Disappearance To Star In Jessica Chastain's '355'

It's been six months since international superstar Fan Bingbing emerged from her sudden disappearance amid a tax evasion scandal. But with the Chinese film industry all but turning their back on her, she may as well still be missing from the spotlight. However, Fan will soon be making her big-screen return in Jessica Chastain's highly anticipated spy thiller, as part of the 355 cast.

Variety reports that Fan Binbing is confirmed to be part of the star-studded 355 cast, making it her first acting gig since her tax evasion scandal rocked the Chinese film industry. Bingbing was announced to be part of the female-fronted action thriller co-starring Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong'o, and Marion Cotillard in May, but its status was thrown in doubt once Fan's tax evasion scandal surfaced.

"The project is moving forward with the original cast and filmmaker, and a start date announcement with full details will be forthcoming," a source close to the production told Variety.

The project was spearheaded by Chastain and was set to follow "international agents in a grounded, edgy action thriller that aims to alter a male-dominated genre with a true female ensemble." Anticipation was high for the film, which was the hottest-selling item in the Cannes market last May. However Fan, who once held the title of China's top-paid actress, disappeared suddenly amid allegations that she had deliberately under-reported her income to tax authorities through the use of secret contracts — a not-uncommon practice in the Chinese entertainment industry, but one that the country was beginning to crack down on. She re-emerged last October to pay the whopping $129 million in fines, back taxes, late payment penalties and interest to the Chinese government.

355 is set to begin shooting this year with all the stars on board. However, the film has lost the backing of China's Huayi Brothers Media, which dropped out of the project for unspecified reasons. While it's possible that the company dropped out due to Huayi's financial problems, it points to larger issues with Fan's poor standing in China. While Fan avoided criminal sanctions and has not received an official ban from performing in China, her disappearance from the spotlight, including being dropped from billboards and magazine pages, suggest that she is still a toxic figure in her home country. However, her return to the big screen will certainly be splashy, and while China may not be ready to re-embrace her, it's possible that this could be the film to welcome her to the Hollywood big leagues.