When the Jade Emperor gathered 12 animals together for a race, it’s unlikely many would have put their money on a rodent finishing first, especially when the competition included a dragon.
But, to the disappointment of the ox, who unwittingly gave the rat a ride across a river, and the pig, who stopped for a bite to eat and dozed off, the rat was able to jump of the ox’s back just before the finish line to claim first place. Spare a thought for the cat in the race, too, whom the rat was supposed to wake up for the race but “forgot.”
Despite winning the legendary race, the rat is not the preferred zodiac animal, easily less desirable than being born a dragon, horse, or tiger, though at least ahead of the lowly sheep for would-be parents. The rat’s craftiness in letting the cat oversleep and hitching a ride with the ox is supposedly mimicked by those born in rat years. Those born in the Year of the Rat (1960, 1972, 1984, and 1996 are all rat years) are said to be intelligent, quick-witted, and thrifty—characteristics you might notice in the five Chinese celebrity rats below:
Wang Gang 王刚
Best known for his role as Heshen, a corrupt Qing Dynasty official favoured by the Qianlong Emperor, in the popular TV program Liu the Hunchback Chancellor (《宰相刘罗锅》), Wang Gang first came to fame in 1986, when he hosted the CCTV New Year’s Gala.
Chris Lee 李宇春
Often referred to as the mother of the “unisex look” in China, Li began her singing career by winning the Chinese singing contest Super Girl in 2005.
Han Geng 韩庚
After leaving the K-Pop industry in 2009, Han Geng returned to China to pursue his solo career. He has since starred in various films, such as The Ex-Files, The Ex-Files 3, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Wang Luodan 王珞丹
Wang first rose to fame with the highly popular youth drama Struggle (2007), before starring in My Youthfulness (2009) and A Story of Lala’s Promotion (2010). He has also starred in films Driverless (2010), Caught in the Web (2012) and The Dead End (2015)
Xu Zheng 徐峥
Best known for acting in various comedic roles, Xu marked his directorial debut in Lost in Thailand (2012) and Lost in Hong Kong (2015), two of the highest-grossing films in China. He also co-produced and starred in the smash hit Dying to Survive (2018)
Here are some famous non-Chinese celebs also born in rat years:
Samuel L. Jackson 塞缪尔·杰克逊
Tim Cook 蒂姆·库克
Gwyneth Paltrow 格温妮丝·帕特洛
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson 道恩·强森; 巨石强森
Olivia Wilde 奥利维亚·维尔德
Scarlett Johansson 斯嘉丽·约翰逊
Tom Holland 汤姆·赫兰德; 荷兰弟
Cover image from SVG Silh & PXFuel