Zhou Xun wed at her charity event because she didn't want to "waste money"
Last July, Chinese actress Zhou Xun surprised everyone by unexpectedly turning a charity concert into her wedding ceremony.
At her benefit show One Night, which was held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the award-winning 40-year-old film star suddenly appeared on stage in full bridal regalia.
She went on to exchange vows and rings with Hollywood-based American-Taiwanese actor Archie Kao, 45, who is best known for his role as an audiovisual lab technician in US drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Many were stunned by the surprise.
After all, it is not like Zhou cannot afford to hold lavish bashes.
In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Zhou, the lead of movies such as Perhaps Love (2005), The Equation Of Love And Death (2008), Painted Skin (2008), The Message (2009), and The Silent War (2012), explained why the couple decided to tie the knot in such a "sudden, special way".
She said: "I was preparing for One Night and it happened that our wedding registration date was around the corner."
"Both of us didn't want to waste money on extravagance. So we thought: 'Why not celebrate the occasion towards the end of the concert, in front of our family and friends?'
"We just wanted to keep our nuptials simple as our main desire was to let everyone know that we are married."
Added Zhou, who was named alongside Zhang Ziyi, Zhao Wei and Xu Jinglei as the four most bankable actresses from mainland China in the early 2000s: "I think it was also memorable for another reason. Now, when people think of my wedding, they'll instantly remember it as being part of my charity show. It will lead to more awareness and help for my child beneficiaries - children in poverty, trafficked children, left-behind children in rural China."
The couple shuttle between Los Angeles and Beijing.
Local viewers can catch Zhou in new TV drama Red Sorghum, an adaptation of Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan's eponymous novel.
The 60-parter is slated to premiere on Feb 10 on Jia Le Channel (SingTel mio TV Ch 502) and will air from Monday to Friday at 10pm. It stars Zhou as protagonist Jiu-Er, a liquor distillery owner who overcomes adversity in wartime in the 1940s.
Zhou has not acted on the small screen for more than 10 years - her last TV outing was 2003's Business Family - but she said that this time round, she was motivated to take on the project.
"I did Red Sorghum for my ageing maternal grandmother. She doesn't watch movies, nor does she go on the Internet. She only watches TV. One day, she casually remarked that 'It's been a really long while since I saw Little Xun (Zhou's nickname) on television.' I thought hard about it and decided it's about time I do a good-quality drama series for her," she said.
Arthouse movie aficionados will remember Chinese director Zhang Yimou's 1987 hit film adaptation of Red Sorghum, with Chinese screen legend Gong Li in the role of Jiu-Er.
Zhou knows comparisons to Gong are "inevitable" and does not mind them one bit.
"It's normal for audiences to weigh the TV version against the original movie version," she said.
"Gong Li's an actress I greatly admire. I've watched every one of her movies. That said, television and film are very different mediums. One of the biggest advantages of doing a TV drama is that we have a lot more time to develop the character's personality and psyche."
Zhou is also not ruling out another Hollywood stint. So far, she has only done the 2012 sci-fi flick Cloud Atlas, helmed by Lana and Andy Wachowski of The Matrix trilogy fame.
"I've always been looking at (Hollywood) scripts, it's vital that the storyline touches me," said Zhou.
"Of course, the director and co-stars are important too. Horror films are a no-no for me. Other than that, I don't set any boundaries for myself. I'll do another Hollywood movie if my schedule permits."
"Now, when people think of my wedding, they'll instantly remember it as being part of my charity show. It will lead to more awareness and help for my child beneficiaries."
- Chinese actress Zhou Xun
Zhou Xun and Archie Kao meet in Hong Kong and start dating. Chinese website NetEase reports that "language is their biggest barrier". Zhou's English has improved significantly since.
The couple goes public with their relationship. Zhou posts a photo of them on her official Weibo page with the caption: "This is Archie, please look after us."
They hold a "surprise" wedding ceremony during Zhou's benefit concert in Hangzhou.
On stage, she says she has played brides in some movies, but "this time, there's finally a Zhou Xun version". At a private party that night, she reportedly tells friends that she and Kao are trying for a child.
Dressed in T-shirts and jeans, they officially register their marriage at the Hangzhou Citizen Centre in Zhejiang province. They reportedly fly to the US for a honeymoon the day after.
In an interview with Sina.com, Kao says they have a common hobby in "staying at home to watch movies and drink wine". He adds: "When we're in Beijing, her parents stay with us and her mother's a great cook. My mum never treats Zhou Xun like a superstar."
LOOKING GOOD: Hollywood actor Archie Kao with his wife, Chinese actress Zhou Xun, in a promotional photo for H&M's Chinese New Year 2015 campaign. PHOTO COURTESY OF H&M
Swedish retail chain H&M makes them the faces of its Chinese New Year 2015 campaign (above). The Chinese New Year collection is now exclusively available in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Zhou says in a press release: "I am very happy to be in H&M's Chinese New Year campaign together with Archie."