Disney’s Live-Action Mulan Has Finally Found Its Star
After a year-long, worldwide search, Disney has cast popular Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, as Mulan in the studio’s upcoming live-action adaptation. Directed by Niki Caro, the film is inspired by both the legendary ballad of Hua Mulan and the 1998 Disney animated classic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, casting directors saw “nearly 1,000 candidates” across five continents for the role of Mulan, the titular heroine who runs away from home and disguises herself as a man to join the Chinese army in the fight against the oncoming Hun invasion.
Earlier this year, Caro described her vision for Mulan as “a big, girly martial arts epic,” so finding an actress with credible martial arts skills, as well as the ability to speak fluent English, was crucial. For Disney, Liu was clearly a girl worth fighting for.
Liu is a well-known actress, model, and singer in China, having acted in English in both 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and 2014’s Outcast with Nic Cage. Although Disney has yet to announce if Caro’s adaptation will feature the memorable songs from the animated film à la this year’s box office juggernaut Beauty and the Beast, Liu’s musical talent only adds to her star power.
Based on a Chinese folktale, the original animated Mulan earned $304.3 million worldwide, and received several Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The popular heroine has since adopted the Disney Princess™ moniker, but that doesn’t make her any less badass. She’s even seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to her appearance on Once Upon a Time, where she’s a bisexual warrior played by Jamie Cheung.
Here’s what we really want to know, though: Who will play Mulan’s guardian dragon, Mushu? Will it be a motion-capture situation or nah? These are the thoughts that keep us up at night.
Mulan is slated for release in 2019.