Jet Li says his first marriage was out of a sense of obligation, and he didn’t develop a healthy loving relationship until he met actress Nina Li.
Li said he began dating his first wife, a classmate who was two years older, because she took good care of him.
“My family was poor. Her family was well-off. She often took care of me. That’s how it happened. I didn’t know what love was,” the 42-year-old action star says in an upcoming episode of “Life of Art,” a Chinese state television program.
“In terms of how much emotion each person devoted, she maybe gave 90 percent or 80 percent. At most I gave ... I still haven’t figured out,” the actor said.
A clip from the show was posted on the Chinese news Web site Sina.com.
Li, who appeared in 1979’s “The Shaolin Temple” when he was a teen, didn’t name his ex-wife, but the Apple Daily newspaper, which carried the Sina.com report Monday, said she is Huang Qiuyan.
The couple married in 1987 and divorced in 1990. “When we parted, we were really like friends,” he said.
Li married Nina Li, his co-star in 1988’s “Long zai tian ya (Dragon Fight),” in September 1999.
“You realize, ‘I put myself out there. I can give up my fame and success, give up my status, give up my money. I’m even willing to die for her.’ You realize this is love,” he said.
Li’s screen credits also include roles in the Hollywood films “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Romeo Must Die” and “Cradle 2 the Grave.”