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Cheng Tai Shen stars in "Biutiful" as Hai.

Cheng Tai Shen was born in Shanxi province, where his father was a worker and his mother a housewife. As a child, he had a vigorous interest in literature. When he was 18 years old, he went to Taiyuan to take on the life of a factory worker, toiling in tough, searing conditions that required her to heave a shovel 500 times a day. Later, he got the chance to take a key role at the local Repertory Theater in a drama based on Qiong Yao's novel "Dream of the Clothes." Tai Shen was surprised to be selected for the starring role in the show since he had no performing experience, but the first role of his life would eventually lead him to the big screen.

Despite being technically too old to study at University, in 1990, Cheng Tai Shen entered into the culture and arts college of the Shanxi province, and began his formal arts education. In July 1993, he began mixing performances at the Central Academy of Drama with his undergraduate classes. After graduation in 1997, he was assigned to the Xi'an Film Studio, where he worked on leading Chinese director Huang Jianxin's "Can't Sleep," serving simultaneously as assistant director, log keeper and supporting actor. In 2001, he starred in the film "Seafood," directed by Zhu Wen, which won the 58th Venice Film Festival Special Jury Prize and numerous other festival awards. In 2004 he worked with director Jia Zhangke on the acclaimed "World," a film set among workers at the World theme park in contemporary Beijing. "World" has played at various international film festivals and garnered a total of 11 international awards.

The Village Voice's 2005 annual world ranking list of the 100 greatest actors included Cheng Tai Shen, the only actor on the list from Mainland China, ranking him No. 67.

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