Huayi gave me a lot of opportunities. It has a very good team and the spirit of cooperation. I also tried my best. The six years really are a non-stop time. In the company, everyone calls me Astro Boy. I did the most works, and I am the person who able to endure the most hardship. I am 25 years old now, from 25 years old to 30 years old, I think that whatever life will experience or career will confront, the period is a very important juncture, or a crossroad for me, and I do not want to be too hasty to make any decisions.
On the red carpet of the opening ceremony of the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Fan wore an elegant pale strapless gown designed by her friend Christopher Bu, decorated with bright floral designs and stories about the Four Beauties of ancient China. Inspired by a porcelain vase, the ancient vibe of her dress was complemented by her hairstyle, which made her look like a young maiden in the Tang dynasty.
Fan rose to fame in East Asia in 1998–1999 with the TV series My Fair Princess. In 2003, she starred in Cell Phone, which became the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year, and received critical acclaim at the Hundred Flowers Awards. She has starred in many films, most notably Lost in Beijing (2007), Buddha Mountain (2011), Double Xposure (2012) and I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016), where she received awards from prestigious award ceremonies such as the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards, Tokyo International Film Festival, San Sebastián International Film Festival and Asian Film Awards. Fan has participated in many foreign-language films, such as the French film Stretch (2011), the Korean film My Way (2011) and the Hollywood superhero blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Fan debuted in the television series Powerful Woman and played minor roles for two years, before she rose to stardom in 1999 for her supporting role as Jin Suo in the first two seasons of the Chinese television series My Fair Princess, which were adapted from Taiwanese Writer Chiung Yao's story. She had been recommended by Taiwanese Actress Leanne Liu to join the cast. The comedic period drama enjoyed widespread success in Asia, propelling Fan to become a household name in the region. After that, Fan signed an eight-year contract with Chiung Yao's company, which produced My Fair Princess. However, as the company had yet to establish any branches in mainland China, many mainland Chinese television advertising firms had to make calls to Taiwan for negotiations, resulting in a waste of time and effort. When Fan and her mother wanted to end the contract, Chiung Yao's company asked for ¥1 million in compensation, but eventually the court ordered Fan to pay ¥200,000 because the contract was illegal due to her age.
In 2000, Fan joined a company owned by Wang Jinghua, an artists manager in mainland China. At the end of 2000, Wang became the general manager of Huayi Brothers, and Fan followed Wang and signed a six-year contract with Huayi. During her time with Huayi, Fan starred in many television series, such as Young Justice Bao II (2001), Red Poppies (2002), adapted from the Mao Dun Literature Prize novel, and The Proud Twins (2005), adapted from Gu Long's novel Juedai Shuangjiao. From 1999 to 2002, Fan acted in a total of 17 TV series.
Fan also acted in many films. In 2003, she starred in Feng Xiaogang's Cell Phone, which became the highest-grossing film of the year in China. Fan won a Best Actress Award at the 27th Hundred Flowers Awards, a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the 24th Golden Rooster Awards and an Outstanding New Actress nomination at the 10th Huabiao Awards. She also appeared in The Lion Roars (2002), The Twins Effect II (2004), A Chinese Tall Story (2005), and A Battle of Wits (2006). She received a Golden Bauhinia Awards nomination for her role in A Battle of Wits.
Just Begun is Fan's debut studio album. It was released on 21 November 2005 by Warner Music Beijing Co., Ltd.
Fan left Huayi Brothers in February 2007 and started her own studio, Fan Bingbing Studio. She starred in eight films in 2007, winning the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 44th Golden Horse Film Awards for her role in The Matrimony. She also won the Best Actress Award at the 4th Eurasia International Film Festival for her role in the film Lost in Beijing.
In 2008, Fan started an arts school in Huairou, Beijing, and served as its principal, but the school was actually run by her parents. She also became the leader of the acting team of West Movie Group's arts centre. That year, her studio made its first television production, Rouge Snow (2008), adapted from the novel of the same name. Fan played the starring role in the production, portraying a poor girl who fights for freedom against fate after being sold to a wealthy and influential clan.
In 2009, her studio produced The Last Night of Madam Chin, a story about a beautiful dancer's legendary life, adapted from the novel of the same name by Bai Xianyong. That year, Fan starred in Shinjuku Incident and was praised by critics for her performance. She also challenged her first comedy role in Sophie's Revenge alongside Zhang Ziyi. Fan featured in Bodyguards and Assassins, which earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards.
On 13 May 2010, Fan wore a "Dragon Robe" on the red carpet of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. The dress, co-designed by Chinese designer Laurence Hsu and Fan herself, features two leaping dragons and crashing waves on the hem, in the bright yellow colour that was exclusively used by emperors in ancient China. The dress was collected by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on 12 March 2012. Laurence Hsu announced that the dress shown at the museum is a modified version of the original, which was bought by Madame Tussauds.
On 11 May 2011, Fan, wearing a crane dress, appeared on the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 64th Cannes Film Festival. The dress was auctioned off by Fan herself for about a million RMB for her charity project, Heart Ali, on 27 April 2012.
Due to these appearances in Cannes, Fan has attracted notable media attention. In recent years, Fan received various invitations from fashion brands such as Valentino Garavani, Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo Italia S.p.A., Atelier Versace, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, to attend fashion shows in Paris, Beijing and Shanghai. On 3 July 2012, she closed the Stéphane Rolland Couture show in Paris, and was featured in the fashion show's finale. On 31 July, she was ranked number nine on Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed list 2012. On 19 September, she was honoured with the Personal Style Award by Elle (USA Edition). On 2 December, she became the new ambassador of Louis Vuitton "Epi Alma" series of handbags. On 5 December, she was awarded "The Most Beautiful Woman of the Year" by the magazine Esquire (China Edition). On 24 December, she was selected by the website Red Carpet Fashion Awards as the Best Dressed International Star 2012.
Fan returned to television after a 6-year hiatus in The Empress of China, the third television production by Fan Bingbing Studio. Boasting a total budget of over ¥300 million (roughly US$49.53 million), it is believed to be the among most expensive TV series in Chinese history. In the series, Fan portrays the titular character Wu Zetian, the only female Emperor in Chinese history. The 82-episode TV series was broadcast on Hunan Television from 21 December 2014 to 5 February 2015, and recorded the highest ratings for the year. The same year, she starred in wuxia fantasy film The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.
Fan was ranked on Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed list 2015 and 2016.
In 2016, Fan featured in Skiptrace alongside Jackie Chan and American actor Johnny Knoxville, which won her the Best Supporting Actress award at the 1st Golden Screen Awards. Fan starred in Guo Jingming's L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties. The film, which was released on 30 September, is China's first computer-animated motion film. On 24 September, Fan won the Silver Shell for Best Actress at the 64th San Sebastián International Film Festival and Award for Best Actress at 11th Asian Film Award for her performance in I Am Not Madame Bovary directed by Feng Xiaogang.
In 2017, Fan was listed on Time 100 list of Most Influential People of 2017. In April 2017, Fan was announced to serve in the 70th Cannes Film Festival jury. The same year, she starred in Sky Hunter, China's first aerial warfare film.