Born into a family of doctors. Educated in China at the Shanghai
Film Academy and the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages.
Discovered by veteran Chinese director Xie Jin while observing a
filming with a school group. Her performance in "Little Flower" won
China's Best Actress award, and resulted in the Chinese press
dubbing her "The Elizabeth Taylor of China" for having achieved top
stardom while still a teenager. Came to US to attend college in
1981, first at the State University of New York at New Paltz, later
at California State University at Northridge. Had a succession of
small parts in movies and TV, with first break coming in 1986 when,
in the true tradition of Hollywood legend, Dino DiLaurentis
discovered her in the Lorimar parking lot and cast her in
"Tai-pan". The film bombed, but led to Chen being cast as the
ill-fated Empress in Bertollucci's "The Last Emperor", which won
critical acclaim. This, and her role as enigmatic mill owner Josie
Packard in the cult TV series "Twin Peaks", are her best-known
roles in the West. However, Hollywood's practice of type-casting
Asians has led to a dearth of major roles for Chen since then, and
in recent roles, she has often been cast as a villainess.
Biography courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).