The upcoming China-US co-production drama recounts Express Cixi's (Li) life and her complex relationship with Emperor Guang Xu and Imperial Advisor American Costa, both of whom want to modernise China.
However, due to misunderstandings, Guang Xu's 100-day reform was ended by bloodshed and led to a period of violent revolutions.
Seven Stars chairman Bruno Wu said: "Gong Li was our first choice to play the complex empress. [She] has been applauded throughout her career for capturing the subtle nuances of multifaceted characters and delivering powerful award-winning performances.
"With Gong Li's international appeal, we are confident the movie will excite and resonate with audiences across the world."
No director has been attached to the project but principal photography is set to start in October 2013, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Li has previously appeared in several US films such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising.
The Chinese-born actress has also joined Tarsem Singh's Marco Polo movie, playing a Mongolian Empress.
Watch the trailer for Memoirs of a Geisha below: