Chinese actress Liu Yifei, who is also called as Crystal Liu, is set to star as the title woman warrior in Disney’s live-action version of the classic Chinese tale.
A team of casting directors made a visit to about five continents and saw nearly 1,000 candidates for the role, which wanted credible martial arts skills, the talent to speak English and the most indescribable requirement of all: star quality. In respect to cultural precision, the studio focused on finding a culturally Chinese young woman to play Hua Mulan, who camouflaged herself as a man to take her father’s army recruitment in 5th century China.
In Liu, Disney found the whole package. Nicknamed “Fairy Sister” by the Chinese public for her pure and charming looks and image, she has been one of the country’s most popular actresses of the present time since breaking out with a sequence of hit television dramas in the mid-2000s, while she was still an adolescent enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy. Liu is fluent in English, having lived in Queens, N.Y., for part of her childhood, and represented in English in both 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom, alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and 2014’s Outcast, opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. She also starred differing Emile Hirsch in Danish auteur Bille August’s period passion The Chinese Widow, which solved the Shanghai International Film Festival in June.
Liu, who has served as a brand ambassador for Dior, Tissot, Garnier and Pantene lately starred in the fantasy romance Once Upon a Time, which earned $82.3 million in China this summer. Her other credits include 2012’s The Assassins, which received Liu her first major acting award (at the Macau International Movie Festival), Never Gone and The Four trilogy. Just now she has also signed with WME and endures to be repped by Chinese manager David Chen.
Niki Caro, who most newly helmed The Zookeeper’s Wife, is directing Disney’s live-action Mulan, which is being molded by Chris Bender, Jason Reed, and Jake Weiner and eyeing a 2019 release. The 1998 animated version, voice-starring Ming-Na Wen together with Eddie Murphy and B.D. Wong, earned $304.3 million universal as well as Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.