Mystery surrounding whereabouts of 'X-Men' actress Fan Bingbing prompts theories about her disappearance

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who played Blink in in X-Men: Days of Future Past and is set to appear in the thriller 355 along with Jessica Chastain.

Bingbing, who is China’s highest-paid actress, hasn’t been seen publicly since July 1 after a charity event, and went silent on social media soon afterward. There are no shortage of theories about what happened to her.

Actress Fan Bingbing attends the screening of “Ash Is The Purest White (Jiang Hu Er Nv)” during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 11, 2018, in Cannes, France. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

The 36-year-old dropped out of sight not long after state-run TV suggested that she was falsifying her contracts to pay less in taxes. Leaked docs were said to show that Bingbing claimed $1.56 million for four days work on an upcoming Chinese film when her actual paycheck totaled an additional $7.8 million. Her studio called the allegations “slander,” according to Channel NewsAsia. According to the Associated Press, criminal cases can be “career-ending for Chinese celebrities” because the Communist authorities have ordered offenders blacklisted. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has long been trying to limit the incomes of movie stars to prevent a culture of “money worship” and “misleading young people to blindly chase celebrities.”

The allegations were followed by a “socially responsible” celebrity-ranking report by a state-affiliated group in which celebrities were reviewed on their work, philanthropy, and personal integrity. Bingbing came in last, getting a zero out of 100.  According to the BBC, celebrities “who voice opinions in line with government rhetoric” typically get more praise and positive press in China.

Hugh Jackman, left, Fan Bingbing, and Peter Dinklage at the Australian premiere of X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 16, 2014. (Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

While there are few facts at this point, there is speculation that Bingbing was arrested by the Chinese government for tax evasion. What made people think this happened was an article ran in the state-run Securities Daily last week which said Bingbing was “under control” and would “accept the legal decision.” However, the article was taken down soon after.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong tabloid called The Apple Daily reported on Aug. 31 that the actress had been spotted at a Los Angeles immigration office. The story — again, in a tabloid — said that Bingbing was seeking asylum in the U.S. at the urging of actor Jackie Chan. (Chan’s company called the story “nonsense“).

And it gets even murkier: A watchdog website covering social media censorship in China noted that Bingbing supporters who posted online wondering where she was have said their posts were removed. And Bingbing’s boyfriend, actor Li Chen, hasn’t been seen since she went missing either.

Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Fan Bingbing at the 355 cocktail party in Cannes, France, on May 10, 2018. (Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

Bingbing, whose career has spanned decades in China, is best known to U.S. audiences for her role in the 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past with Hugh Jackman and Peter Dinklage. She is supposed to appear in the upcoming female-focused spy thriller 355 alongside Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Lupita Nyong’o. The women were together at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but a release date for the film has not been announced.

Reps for Bingbing have not yet responded to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment — and we don’t expect them to as this mystery deepens.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: