Disney’s search for the lead actress for their live-action version of the 1998 animation classic Mulan is over as the Chinese actress Liu Yifei has joined the cast as Mulan. The actress is also famous as Crystal Liu and has been chosen after a year-long global search by the studio, which took place after Disney assured in October last year that the cast will be totally Asian. The studio seems to be keeping the promise, but, the report suggests that it was not easy to find the ideal actress to portray Mulan.
The report discloses how Disney had tasked five casting directors who went all over the world and traveled to five continents auditioning over 1,000 actresses for the part. The key requirements for the character were prowess in martial arts, proficiency in English and the “star quality” that the studio ultimately discovered in Liu Yifei. To be culturally spot on, the studio wanted to find an “ethnically Chinese young woman” to play the character of Hua Mulan and Liu Yifei has turned out to be just what they were looking for. She was born in China, but, has spent a great deal of time in America too.
The 30-year-old Liu Yifei was born in Wuhan, in Hubei province of China and she began her modeling career at the age of 8 alongside learning singing, dancing and piano playing. When she was ten, she went to Queens, New York with her mother and spent four years there before coming back to China in 2002 when she got an admission into the reputed Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy and even before graduating from the Academy, she had a thriving career and she debuted in 2004 with Love of May and also featured in the TV show Chinese Paladin which was based on The Legend of Sword and Fairy video games. She played roles in English language films such as the 2008 movie Forbidden Kingdom alongside Jackie Chan, Outcast with Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen and also IP Man 3 with Donnie Yen. Now that Mulan’s remake will start filming in January next year, we are likely to see further casting announcements in the days to come.
After director Ang Lee gave up on Mulan last October, the studio once again focused on it and found director Niki Caro in February who is credited with directing Whale Rider. Although no details about the live-action remake were provided, we believe, it will be based on the 1998 original film Mulan which had Ming Na-Wen giving voice to the lead character and a support voice cast including Eddie Murphy, June Foray, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein and B.D. Wong. The animated original was a success all over the world, and it earned $120.6 million domestically and $304.3 overall.
At the D23 Expo in summer, Disney declared that the film’s release date will be rescheduled. Although, the studio’s initial plan was to release the film in 2018, but, Mulan was pushed back to 2019 from its earlier November 2, 2018, release date. The studio has a couple of unspecified films listed for release on November 8, 2019, and December 20, 2019 and Mulan could be one of them. Renowned in China as “Fairy Sister,” Liu Yifei is among the most popular actresses of the day, and she had recently featured in the fantasy adventure film Once Upon A Time which made $82.3 million in China. The Hollywood Reporter had first revealed about Liu Yifei’s selection for Disney’s Mulan which we hope is the first of many casting news related to this much-awaited film.