Joan Chen (born April 26, 1961) is a Chinese American actress, film director, screenwriter, and film producer. In China she performed in the 1979 film Little Flower ("小花") and came to the attention of western audiences for her performance in the 1987 film The Last Emperor. She is also known for her roles in Twin Peaks, Red Rose, White Rose, Saving Face, and The Home Song Stories, and for directing the feature film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl.
Chen was born in Shanghai, to a family of pharmacologists. She and her older brother, Chase, were raised during the Cultural Revolution. At the age of 14, Chen was discovered on the school rifle range by Jiang Qing, the wife of leader Mao Zedong and major Chinese Communist Party figure for excelling at marksmanship. This led to her being selected for the Actors' Training Program by the Shanghai Film Studio in 1975, where she was discovered by veteran director Xie Jin who chose her to star in his 1977 film Youth (Chinese: 青春; pinyin: Qīngchūn) as a deaf mute whose senses are restored by an Army medical team. Chen graduated from high school a year in advance, and at the age of 17 entered Shanghai International Studies University, where she majored in English.