EXPIRED: 07/05/10 – Jia Hongsheng, 43, was a Chinese actor who, in the 1995 movie Frozen, played the part of a performance artist who decides to make his own death his final work.
And so life imitates art.
Born in Jilin province and a graduate of the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, Hongsheng used his good looks and rebellious image to gain fame and fortune in the early 90’s with movies like The Case of the Silver Snake, Samsara, Good Morning, Beijing!, A Woman from North Shaanxi, and Hei Hou.
But instant success was difficult, and when he was on the set of Weekend Lover he spent more and more time delving into drugs and rock music (still a no-no in China, I guess), the Beatles in particular. He announced that John Lennon was his spiritual father. He was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for visual and auditory hallucinations and forced rehabilitation in 1995.
When he was released he signed on for more serious movies, like Suicides and the aforementioned Frozen, his teenage fans started to drift, and his role choices became more complex. In the movie Suzhou River, another urban tale about alienation and obsession, Hongsheng became obsessed with his co-star, Zhou Xun, and the two became a couple.
But Zhou Xun ended up cheating on Hongsheng with pop singer with singer Pu Shu, and it was, many say, the catalyst for a spiral of depression and deeper drug dependency of which he would never really recover.
In 2001 director Zhang Yang created the documentary Quitting, depicting Hongsheng’s life fighting drug addiction, mental illness and his families’ struggles to help. In the film, Hongsheng informs his father that he is actually “the son of John Lennon.” It earned him best actor awards at the International Rome Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival.
Hongsheng stopped acting after that.
“I do not want to play this game,” he said. “I want to be alone.”
And for nearly 10 years, he was left alone. With his Beatles music and ocassional walks with his family. The public basically forgot about him.
Then, on July 5th, Hongsheng jumped to his death from his apartment in the Chaoyang District in Beijing, China.
And China remembered.