It took a year of searching and nearly 1,000 candidates, but the Walt Disney Studios has found its Mulan. The studio said Wednesday that Chinese actress Liu Yifei will play the warrior in the live-action epic from director Niki Caro. The 30-year-old actress is well known in China as a model, actress and singer, but less so elsewhere in the world. She has appeared in films like The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Outcast with Nicolas Cage.
Disney says the story will be inspired by the animated film from 1998 and The Ballad of Mulan. Bill Kong, who has produced films like House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is executive producing the film. It is expected to hit theatres in 2019.
The upcoming live-action film tells the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the army. The 1998 musical had grossed nearly $300 million globally. The film had also received an Academy Award nomination for its soulful music.
Earlier, Hollywood was accused of ‘whitewashing’ for featuring white actors in Asian roles. An online campaign demanded an Asian actor to be cast as Mulan. After the announcement of the recent changes, netizens on Twitter celebrated this moment as a win for diversity in Hollywood.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actor Ming-Na Wen took to Twitter and said,” Congrats to #LiuYiFei ! Great choice for live action #Mulan! 👏👏👏👏”
Recently, Ghost in the Shell and The Great Wall were two of the films which were slammed for casting Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon in films that originally demanded Japanese and Chinese cast, respectively.
(With inputs from AP)