Disney's Mulan Finds Its Lead in a Chinese Actress

Posted 2017/11/29 0 0

The Chinese actress Liu Yifei is set to play the titular character.


While Disney ultimately didn’t deliver on its efforts to recruit either an Asian or an Asian-American director for the live-action Mulan, it has followed through on its promise to find a Chinese actor to bring its protagonist to life on the big screen. Niki Caro is directing the film, and dispatched a team of casting directors across five continents, who saw over 1,000 actresses for the role. Among the primary requirements for the role were demonstrable martial arts skills, proficiency in the English language along with that intangible "star quality" that the studio has found in Liu Yifei.

Liu Yifei, 30, was born in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China, and she started out modeling at the young age of 8 while also being trained in singing, dancing and playing the piano. She moved to Queens, New York with her mother at the age of 10, spending four years in the Big Apple, before returning to China in 2002, when she was accepted into the prestigious Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy, but before even graduating from the Academy, her career was off and running, making her feature film debut in 2004 with Love of May and starring in the TV series Chinese Paladin, based on The Legend of Sword and Fairy video games. Mulan is not Liu’s first English-language film; she previously appeared in The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and in Outcast opposite Nicolas Cage. Her most recent film, Once Upon a Time, grossed over $82 million at the Chinese box office this summer. In addition to acting, Liu has represented brands like Dior and and Garnier.

Now that the film has found its lead, hopefully we will get more details as production ramps up. There has been a great deal of back and forth about whether or not the film will be a musical. Beauty and the Beast made the musical elements of the animated film work in live action but the Mulan story has a more serious overall tone so it will interesting to see how they incorporate any musical elements and what balance they strike.