Chinese actress Liu Yifei — also known as Crystal Liu — has been cast to play the lead in the upcoming live-action Mulan adaptation from Disney.
Disney had been determinedly searching for an actress who was ethnically Chinese to play the part, having considered over a thousand of potential individuals in a search process that took a year to complete.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the casting directors were looking for someone with martial arts skills, the ability to speak fluent English and, above all, a certain star quality.
Liu has been selected, meaning she must have all three. She is one of China’s most popular actresses, having broken out in the 2000’s with several TV Series such as The Return of the Condor Heroes and Silver Age. She went on to star in several Chinese films, including The Forbidden Kingdom, Outcast, The Assassins and Ip Man 3.
She has also recently starred in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, playing the character of Bai Qian’.
Liu will play Hua Mulan, the Chinese warrior who disguised herself as a man in order to enter the army in fifth-century China. This will be a live-action retelling of Disney’s 1998 animated Mulan, which featured the vocal work of Ming-Na Wen and Eddie Murphy. It is not yet known, however, whether this adaptation will be a musical as well or whether it will contain the character of Mushu — a talking dragon.
The film is being directed by Niki Caro, who’s known for McFarland, USA and The Zookeeper’s Wife. “Of all the princesses,” said Caro via Independent, “she’s the most kick-ass. I love her the most.”
Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Jurassic World and Planet of the Apes scribes, have been brought in to write the latest treatment for the screenplay following Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin. Chris Bender, Jason Reed and Jake Weiner will serve as the producers.
Mulan is just one of many live-adaption reboots Disney has coming in the future. After having great financial success with Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty in the Beast, they also have Dumbo, The Lion King, Aladdin, Pinocchio, Prince Charming, Peter Pan, Cruella and The Little Mermaid on the way, in various stages of development.
Disney’s live-action Mulan will hit theaters at some point in 2019.