Fan was born in Qingdao, Shandong, and raised in Yantai, Shandong. She graduated from Shanghai Xie Jin's Star School and Shanghai Theatre Academy.
In 1997, Fan rose to stardom for her supporting role as Jin Suo in the Taiwanese television sitcom Princess Pearl and its sequel in 1998, which starred Zhao Wei and Ruby Lin in the leading roles. Over the next few years, through appearances in many films and television dramas, she became one of the more well-known actresses in mainland China. After achieving success in her acting career, Fan also released albums, posed for magazine covers and became a spokesperson for several commercial brands.
In 2007, Fan started her own studio, Fan Bingbing Workshop (范冰冰工作室). The studio's first television production was Rouge Snow, followed by Jin Da Ban De Zuihou Yiye 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 (西影集团)'s arts center, and was popularly referred to as "China's Monica Bellucci".
In 2010, Fan was ranked 10th in the Forbes China Celebrity 100. She also appeared on the Shanghai International Film Festival's red carpets that year. Fan also appeared on the 63rd Cannes Film Festival's red carpet.
In 2011, Fan's popularity in China rose due to her performances in the films Shaolin and Buddha Mountain.[verification needed] In the same year, Fan ranked 9th in the Forbes China Celebrity 100. She also appeared again on the 64th Cannes Film Festival's red carpet and promoted her new film My Way together with the director and other main cast members.