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Hiep Thi Le Dies: Star Of Oliver Stone’s ‘Heaven And Earth’ Was 46

Deadline logo Deadline 20/12/2017 Dino-Ray Ramos

'Heaven and Earth' © Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock 'Heaven and Earth' Actress Hiep Thi Le died on December 19 from complications due to stomach cancer, Deadline has learned. She was best known for her acclaimed role in Oliver Stone’s 1994 film Heaven and Earth opposite Tommy Lee Jones. She was 46.

Born in Da Nang, Vietnam, an eight-year-old Le and her younger sister were put on a fishing boat by her mother to try and reunite with their father in Hong Kong in 1979. After a difficult journey, Le and her sister eventually met their father in Hong Kong and ultimately reunited with her family of nine, taking up residence in Oakland, California.

a little girl smiling at the camera © Provided by Deadline While attending the University of California at Davis as a physiology major, she attended an open casting call with her sister for Heaven and Earth at San Jose State University auditorium. She ended up nabbing the role of author and humanitarian Le Ly Hayslip, with whom she remained close friends.

In addition to Jones, she starred alongside Joan Chen, the late Dr. Haing S. Ngor and Debbie Reynolds, as well as a large cast of Asian professionals and non-professional performers. Le received critical praise for her performance and became a pioneer of Asian American actors in mainstream American films.

After Heaven and Earth, she starred in numerous roles in film and TV including Cruel Intentions, Green Dragon starring Forest Whitaker and Patrick Swayze, as well as Bugis Street.

In addition to acting, Le pursued her passion for cooking and became a celebrated restaurateur and chef. She opened China Beach Bistro in Venice, California, and then the French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant Le Cellier in Marina Del Rey. In 2014, her culinary skills were featured as a contestant on the popular Food Network competition show Chopped.

Le also wrote an as yet unpublished memoir, Daughter of the Sea: My Voyage to Freedom and Womanhood.

Le is survived by her husband, two loving children, along with six brothers and sisters, and her parents, who now live in Los Angeles.

Related slideshow: Stars we've lost in 2017 (via Photo Services) 


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