Disney Casts Chinese Star Liu Yifei as ‘Mulan’ in Live-Action Remake
Earlier this year, we spoke with director Niki Caro about her upcoming reimagining of Mulan, one of many live-action remakes in the works at Disney. In light of the white-washing controversies surrounding films like Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, there has been some understandable concern among fans regarding Disney’s remake of their animated classic. But as Caro promised, the studio is committed to casting Chinese actors in the live-action update, and they’ve made good on their word (thus far) today by enlisting actress Liu Yifei (aka Crystal Liu) in the title role.
Per THR, Liu Yifei has landed the lead role in Mulan, the upcoming live-action remake of the 1998 animated film. Based on the Chinese ballad of the warrior Hua Mulan, the story centers on a young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to take her father’s place in the military. Liu, also known as Crystal Liu, is a major star in China, where she rose to fame via a series of television roles while she was still attending the Beijing Film Academy.
Liu won the part after an extensive casting search that spanned five continents, with almost 1,000 actors auditioning for the role. The actress fulfilled all of Disney’s requirements for the part, which called for someone with star power who can speak English and possesses martial arts abilities. 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.
Niki Caro, who directed Whale Rider and the Jessica Chastain drama The Zookeeper’s Wife, is helming the live-action remake of Mulan, which is currently eyeing a 2019 release.